Former Chancellor of University of North Carolina School of the Arts and current PBS North Carolina CEO unanimously selected as next leader of San Francisco’s iconic learning institution
SAN FRANCISCO (February 10, 2022)—The Exploratorium is excited to announce that Lindsay Bierman has been selected as the museum’s new Executive Director and CEO. Bierman, who previously served as Chancellor of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) and is currently CEO of PBS North Carolina, one of the nation’s largest PBS affiliates, was chosen for the position after a nationwide search.
“I’m honored and humbled to be chosen as the next Executive Director and CEO of the Exploratorium,” said Bierman. “Its immersive exhibitions have sparked curiosity and wonder for generations of visitors, its professional development programs have inspired thousands of public school teachers, and its prolific team of scientists and designers have prototyped, built, and shipped exhibitions around the world. I’m excited to work with all the skilled individuals and diverse communities who’ve dedicated their lives to championing the integration of art, technology and science. Together, I hope to ensure a more equitable, just, and sustainable future for our planet by galvanizing the next generation of leaders, advocates, and educators.” Bierman, who was unanimously selected by the organization’s Board of Trustees on February 7, will officially join the Exploratorium on April 15. He will replace Chris Flink, who served as Executive Director of the Exploratorium for five years before stepping down at the end of 2021.
“The Board of Trustees is thrilled to welcome Lindsay aboard as the new Executive Director of the Exploratorium,” said Roberta Katz, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “During the interview process, we recognized the creative genius of Lindsay, who has proven himself to be a strategic, disciplined and compassionate leader. I also want to commend Chris Flink for his terrific five-year tenure at the Exploratorium. Chris ushered us through the difficult times of the pandemic with great poise and leadership. Additionally, interim Executive Director Rob Semper and Managing Director Phoebe White have been invaluable during this leadership transition.”
As Chancellor of UNCSA from 2014 to 2019, Bierman oversaw a $65 million budget, led nearly 500 faculty and staff, and served more than 2,500 students across undergraduate, graduate, high school, summer, and community programs. As a fundraiser, he secured the largest gifts in the institution’s history, raising nearly $55 million in the three-year quiet phase of a record-breaking $65 million campaign to support scholarships, curricular programs, and strategic initiatives. As a brand builder, he led a total overhaul of UNCSA’s website, social media, and recruitment strategies, driving a 30 percent year-over-year increase in applications.
Additionally, he completed comprehensive master plans for the main campus and the university's 1,300-seat performing arts center, developed plans and secured approval for the first new residence halls since the 1970s, and launched a Media and Emerging Technologies Lab to support virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality research and development.
As the CEO of the statewide public television network PBS North Carolina, Bierman and his team expanded its education offerings in partnership with the state’s Department of Public Instruction by launching the At-Home Learning Initiative, providing 41 hours of daily, curriculum-informed educational programming for PreK-12 students across multiple platforms, making it accessible for free to households without broadband in communities most impacted by the COVID pandemic.
Bierman also secured major corporate and state grants to support science content and curriculum development, as well as original math and literacy programming in Spanish and English. Under his leadership, the network joined Firelight Media, the premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color, and the Center for Asian American Media to launch a documentary series that provides grants and production support for BIPOC filmmakers in the American South. Earlier this month, PBS North Carolina was one of three PBS affiliates in the nation to be named a “Regional Digital Center for Innovation” by PBS Digital Studios. Together, the centers will oversee the production of up to 15 new digital series that are authentic and inclusive of all audiences, and will be rolled out across digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and/or IGTV later this year.
"Throughout our conversations with Lindsay we found him to be a creative thinker, a talented problem solver, and a person of high integrity," said George Cogan, Chair Emeritus." He loves a challenge and his curiosity fits perfectly with the culture of the Exploratorium. He is a quick study and a confident and experienced strategic leader who will guide us as we build our model for 21st century learning and discovery."
An architect by training, Bierman started his career as a ghost writer and designer for the renowned New York firm Robert A. M. Stern Architects. He went on to a 17-year run with publishing giant Time Inc., where he helped launch and reposition several national consumer brands, eventually serving as editor in chief of the iconic flagship magazine “Southern Living.” Throughout his career, Bierman has developed significant partnerships and strategic alliances in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, including collaborations with state governmental agencies, and has recently served on many boards including the NC Media Equity Project and North Carolina Governor Cooper’s Advisory Council on Film, Television, and Digital Streaming. He will be the first openly gay man to lead the Exploratorium in the 53-year history of the museum.
Bierman will work with Chief Science Officer Rob Semper and the Exploratorium’s senior leadership team on a series of initiatives, including expanding the organization’s cross-disciplinary learning programs, sharpening its focus, promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, and strengthening the foundation of the institution.
“I’m eager to connect with Lindsay to address the challenges of the day and to push forward with a new vision for the Exploratorium,” said Semper. “I know that Lindsay values respectful collaboration and creative partnership with his staff and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of the Exploratorium under his leadership.”
Originally from Michigan, Bierman’s parents and extended family moved to San Diego in the 1980s. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in 1987 and his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Virginia in 1993. He has been in a relationship with his husband Alan Henderson for 25 years, with the two getting married in 2015 in San Diego. In his free time, he enjoys Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting, training with Emeryville-based coach Max Aita.