Executive Director Initiates Staff Changes and a New Phase of Organizational Transformation
SAN FRANCISCO (April 28, 2021)—Chris Flink, CEO and Executive Director of the Exploratorium, announced today that he has made the decision to transition out of his leadership role at the nonprofit organization beginning July 1, 2021. Mr. Flink will remain with the organization through December 31, 2021. During the transition period, he will support a process of organizational transformation and strategic visioning to ensure the Exploratorium’s long-term financial sustainability and increase its impact post-pandemic. This process includes staff changes announced today aimed at right-sizing the organization. Four Senior Leaders (of 11) and an additional 13 staff members out of 320 will be departing the organization or will have hours reduced. Through the end of the year, Flink will also support a leadership succession plan and an ongoing Stability and Revitalization fundraising campaign.
“It has been a tremendous honor and phenomenal experience serving as the Exploratorium’s Sakurako and William Fisher Executive Director. I’m incredibly proud of all that we have learned and accomplished together over the past five years, and am extremely grateful to have shared the journey with such inspiring colleagues,” said Chris Flink. “We are saddened that we must make painful changes that affect our organization at all levels, but we are confident that this is the correct step to ensure the viability and vitality of this institution we all love.”
“Chris has led the organization through unprecedented hardship, and his strategic choices in the years prior to the pandemic and steady leadership through it have been absolutely crucial to the Exploratorium’s survival,” said Roberta Katz, Chair of the Exploratorium’s Board of Trustees. “My fellow board members and I have greatly valued Chris’s adept leadership of this organization. On a personal note, we will miss him very much, but we understand and respect his decision to prioritize his family after this isolating and challenging pandemic year. We are grateful that Chris has agreed to remain with us to support the transition of leadership.”
“Chris’s leadership over the last five years has really underscored how much more than a museum the Exploratorium truly is,” said George Cogan, Chair Emeritus. “During his tenure, Chris oversaw a stream of innovative exhibitions coinciding with the Exploratorium’s 50th anniversary in 2019, expanded the organization’s professional development programs to thousands of science teachers throughout California, and tripled its consulting and collaboration portfolio with major projects in Omaha, Singapore, Kuwait, and Brazil. During this year of closure, we have also been particularly pleased with how quickly Chris rallied the Exploratorium to shift its education programs online and provide the community with compelling online resources.”
The Exploratorium has been closed to the public since the evening of March 12, 2020, amid the ongoing pandemic. During this extended closure, the organization has shifted its focus to providing free online educational resources and programs exploring topics of science, art, and human perception. The organization has also instituted a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, and will be initiating a generative process with staff at all levels to consider how the museum can best engage the public on contemporary issues consistent with its longstanding mission and approach to learning. Themes identified through this process will help inform the Board’s search for the next CEO and Executive Director.
“I believe in the values of creative iteration and life-long learning that the Exploratorium celebrates and embodies,” said Flink. “This is a time for the organization to catalyze courageous renewal, embrace change, and make space for fresh perspectives and energizing new ideas.”
“The board and I have the utmost confidence in Chris and the Senior Leadership Team to lead the organization as it prepares to reopen the beloved museum, and to work towards a vision for the future as we look for Chris’s successor,” said Roberta Katz. “The board has established a search committee, and beginning this summer we will be looking to select an exceptional leader who can help the organization deliver on its mission, engage with our creative community, and lead the next stage of meaningful impact.”
Chris Flink, Image courtesy of Drew Altizer Photography for the Exploratorium