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Discovery Center board members and staff have set a goal of finding a new executive director by early December.
Discovery Center board members and staff have set a goal of finding a new executive director by early December.

Discovery Center sets ‘aggressive timeline’ for new leader

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Last edited 2:14 p.m., Oct. 24, 2017

A day after announcing she was vacating Discovery Center of Springfield Inc.’s executive director post, the children’s museum board leadership say they’re planning a quick executive search process.

The Kitchen Inc. yesterday announced Spencer, the Discovery Center’s executive director since March 2014, was hired as its next CEO. Her last day at the Discovery Center is Nov. 10; she informed its board members Oct. 13, said board President Karen Brown, director of organizational development and improvement for Brewer Science Inc.

“We have an aggressive timeline,” Brown said. “We’re hoping by early December to have someone on board.”

Brown said a search committee already has been formed — comprising current and former board members and Discovery Center staff — and the position is being posted online. A couple of people already have expressed interest, she said.

Brown said Ashlee Ifland, the museum’s director of marketing and advancement, agreed to take on additional responsibilities through Dec. 1 to ease the transition. Ifland is not interested in the top job at the Discovery Center, Brown said.

Spencer is expected to start at The Kitchen around the end of November, said Roz Palmer, the nonprofit’s community development manager. Spencer succeeds Rorie Orgeron, who exited the post suddenly four months ago for unspecified reasons. Palmer said The Kitchen had 122 applicants for the job.

“We are sad to see her leave. She has stepped up and made some tremendous changes at the Discovery Center,” Brown said of Spencer. “It’s a bittersweet thing for us. We’re not ever going to stand in the way of someone who has an opportunity to grow and take on more responsibility.”

The Discovery Center’s new executive director will inherit a roughly $1.2 million operating budget but also some operating losses. The nonprofit posted combined annual losses of $1.7 million between 2012 and 2015, according to Springfield Business Journal reporting. Brown said the center's 2016 operating loss was $290,000, compared with a 2015 loss of $302,000.

In September, SBJ reported the Discovery Center had 2016 operating revenue of $982,000. That's up from $963,000 in 2015, Brown said.

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