Just in time for the holidays – the final episode of Open Admission Season One! We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, our supporters, for listening in this year. Stay tuned for information on Season Two in 2017. For now, we are taking a brief holiday hiatus, but we look forward to continuing our journey with you soon – from both coasts!
JASON PORTER is the Director of Education and Public Engagement at the San Diego Museum of Man. He is an experienced educator, educational leader, and curriculum designer with a long history in progressive and informal education. After receiving degrees from Tufts University and Seattle University, he worked as a classroom teacher for thirteen years, teaching Humanities and Special Education at the middle and high school levels in alternative, independent, and traditional schools. In the course of his teaching career, he served as a department chair, an administrator, a dean, and a student case manager. Jason’s doctoral dissertation from UCLA examined the ways that new charter schools can best prepare to serve the needs of students with disabilities. Prior to moving to San Diego, he served as the Associate Director of Education at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where he oversaw content and programs for family, school, and teacher audiences, including programs associated with the award-winning exhibition Noah’s Ark at the Skirball. His work has allowed him to pursue relationships between cultural institutions and community organizations in the interest of expanding the social role of museums and providing visitors with tangible ways to affect change in the world. Papers and conference presentations at various convenings and events across the country have provide platforms from which to share this perspective with the museum community more broadly.
BETH REDMOND-JONES is Senior Director of Public Programs at the San Diego Natural History Museum where she oversees exhibitions, education in the US and Baja California, and volunteers. Beth has developed, designed, and project managed exhibitions and public programs for numerous cultural institutions, and has held a number of senior and executive management positions in museums over the past 27 years. Beth holds a Masters in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University and a BA in Art History from the University of New Hampshire. She serves on the board of the National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME), a Professional Network of the American Alliance of Museums. Beth is very active in working to create safe spaces in museums for all visitors. A majority of her recent work has been working collaboratively with young adults with autism to create social stories for several museums in Balboa Park. You can learn more about the Social Stories: SPECTRUM Project here (recently funded by IMLS!).
PAIGE BARDOLPH is an Associate Curator at the Autry Museum of the American West, where she has curated a variety of exhibitions on Native American material culture and environmental history. She is currently finalizing two new galleries and an accompanying ethnobotanical garden, opening October 2016. She is also collaborating with KCETLink to produce content for an accompanying documentary series on traditional ecological knowledge in California. Prior to joining the curatorial department at the Autry, she has held positions in both collections and education at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. She is passionate about developing visitor centered exhibitions and exploring the connections between culture, art, and science.
CATE THURSTON is an Assistant Curator at the Skirball Cultural Center. She holds a BA in American History from Franklin Pierce University and an MA in History from California State University, Northridge. Her academic work explores the intersection of community and revitalization projects in Downtown Los Angeles. Most recently, she served as the lead curator on two baseball exhibitions at the Skirball Cultural Center. Before joining the Skirball, she was the Education Manager of Objects and Exhibits at the Autry Museum of the American West.
OLIVIA FALES works in the Academic Programs Department at the Hammer Museum where she coordinates family programs and supports the museum’s school and gallery interpretive programs. She has been a gallery teacher at LACMA and the Skirball Cultural Center, an art writer, and a professional cook. She has a master’s degree in art history and archaeology with an emphasis in Greek art – but don’t let it fool you: she is just as enamored with the art of our time.
THERESA SOTTO is assistant director of Academic Programs at the Hammer Museum, where she oversees educational programming for college, family, and K-12 school and teacher audiences. Theresa has been working at the crossroads of education and the arts since 2001. Prior to joining the Hammer, she has held positions at the Getty Museum, the University of Arizona Poetry Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and has served as a consultant for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.
GUSTAVO LOPEZ has been a part of the education staff at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for the last 10 years. He began as a Gallery Interpreter, then moved on to be a manager of the interpretation team by becoming a Lead Gallery Interpreter. As a Lead, he was also active in training both volunteers and docents on a daily basis on the interpretation skills that help create an educational experience for the museum’s guests. In working with the Gallery Interpreter team, Gustavo helped to assess the Interpreters on both formal and informal programing, worked closely with School Programs, Guest Relations, and helped to train the Interpretation team. Gustavo really enjoyed working with all the staff at NHM and interacting with the guest of all ages and backgrounds, and always saw the museum as a hub for all people of the world. Today, he is part of the Spiritual Care Center at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. He is very excited to continue using his skills to help connect with people.
MARGARETE VILLALOBOS is the School Programs Coordinator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Over the course of the last 6 ½ years, she has worked in a variety of positions within the Guest Relations and Education departments. With the School Programs team, she serves pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students visiting the Museum during the school year – always striving to ensure an enriching experience for students and teachers. Margarete facilitates guided programming for school groups, coordinates special programs (i.e. the ever-popular Homeschool Days), and leads professional development opportunities for educators. On any given day, what’s her favorite part of the job? Greeting students as they come through the Museum Entrance. While at the NHM for the majority of her museum career, Margarete knew she wanted to pursue a career path in museums during a work-study position as a museum educator at the Fowler Museum at U.C.L.A. To continue growing as a museum professional, she is currently finishing up her Master’s degree in Museum Studies through Johns Hopkins online program. On her free time, she visits museums in Los Angeles, brunches on Sundays, and obsessively keeping tabs on the Griffith Park mountain lion, P-22.
BRIAN MEREDITH, ILANA GUSTAFSON, and ELI PRESSER make up the leadership team for the Performing Arts Program at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Unique to a typical natural history museum, the in-house Performing Arts Program uses theater to help guests connect to museum exhibits and special events. With their signature programs, Dinosaur Encounters at the Natural History Museum and Ice Age Encounters at the La Brea Tar Pits, the Performing Arts team brings the thrill of seeing a giant T. rex, Triceratops, or Saber-toothed cat puppet to guests in a dynamic weekly live performance. You can also find them performing shadow puppetry, storytelling, toy theater, song, poetry, stilt-walking, and more at many museum events.
NINA SILVER is the Head of Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Nina balances life as a museum educator, actor, puppeteer and mom. She was born and raised in New York City and now calls Los Angeles home with her husband and 2 kids. Nina has a B.A. in Theatre and Spanish from Middlebury College in Vermont. Prior to her work at the Skirball, Nina was a teaching artist in L.A. area schools for Pre-K through 6th grade students. She is a longtime actor and theater creator with the award-winning Rogue Artists Ensemble, a multi-disciplinary theatre and puppetry company. Off-Broadway, Nina has appeared with PTP/NYC at Atlantic Stage 2, the NY Fringe Festival, and Theatre for the New City. In L.A. she has appeared at the Getty Villa, South Coast Repertory, L.A. Theatre Center, Pasadena Playhouse and many, many more. Bringing people together to share stories in eye-opening ways is a passion and priority in her life.
JEN MAXCY is currently the Head of Family Programs and Community Engagement at Skirball Cultural Center where she develops and manages educational programs for family audiences connecting to a wide range of exhibition content. With a mission to inspire wonder and create connections between and across communities, Jen’s work spans from managing a drop-in art studio, an outdoor archaeology dig, a weekend program for pre-k children and families, large family festivals like The Skirball Puppet Festival, to programming a summer amphitheater series. Prior to her role as Head of Family Programs, Jen worked for three years as the Associate Educator in Family Programs at The Skirball where she gained experience in developing curriculum as a museum educator. The path leading to the Skirball for Jen was paved with many years as a professional actor in Boston, New York and Los Angeles—doing theater in countless little houses, acting in dozens of commercials, and a handful of independent film projects. Along the way Jen discovered a love of jewelry design and operated her own company (Jen Maxcy Designs) where she handcrafted every piece. Rounding out Jen’s work experience over the last decade was a stint as PTA President of Roosevelt Elementary School in Santa Monica where she oversaw a budget and programs that helped to fund arts and enrichment programs. Jen lives in Santa Monica with her two children, Benjamin (14) and Juliette (12), her partner Timm and his son Gear (13), their two doggies. and one rabbit.