When Alison decided at a young age she wanted a career in business who would have predicted she would become the first female President and CEO of the renowned Science Museum of Minnesota? In her current role she is leading programs that encourage and inspire people from all walks and backgrounds. Alison came to Minnesota by way of California where she was the CFO then Chief of Staff at the California Academy of Sciences and was recognized as CFO of the Year in San Francisco. How she oversees the dynamic offerings and drives growth at the Science Museum made Scouts curious to learn more…

Q: If you could try a different job for a day, what would you choose?

Since I was 11 years old, I’ve wanted to be in business, so this is hard for me to imagine. Okay, I’d run away to the circus and be an acrobat!

Q: What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

There are a lot of different entry points into the museum industry, and none are better than the other. I came to the industry from the for-profit world as the Chief Financial Officer. What matters is that you have a vision for the full institution and everything it can do to help society and everything society can do to help the museum. The best museums are permeable. The best employees may have a particular passion for their specific area, yet they reach across the museum to share their passion and learn about what’s going on around the full museum. They reach out into the community and invite the community in.

Q: What is your mantra?

Why not?

Q: How do you get yourself out of a slump?

I walk around the museum floor and watch our museum guests sharing their experience with family and friends. They’re having such a good time, how could I stay in a slump?

Q: What companies or leaders do you admire?

I admire Pixar and particularly Ed Catmull. He wrote one of the few business books I recommend, Creativity, Inc.

Q: What has been the biggest shift you’ve noticed in your industry in the last decade?

It’s actually not technology per se, but technology has allowed people to create strong shared experiences at home. Museums need to create meaningful experiences that people can’t get at home. Also, as the United States population shifts, museums need to shift in their staffing, experiences, and messages to be relevant to the more diverse and younger population in America. STEM careers are growing 3X faster than all other careers combined in the next ten years, and that’s not going to slow down. We can help girls, youth of color, and youth from low-income families see that STEM careers are possible for them. We can spark a passion for science.

Q: Who has been most instrumental in your career?

I was fortunate with both of my parents, but when my father told me “you go girl!” in 1969 when I told him that I wanted to go into business, nothing was going to stop me.

Q: What is your go-to celebration meal, drink or tradition?

I enjoy my husband’s home cooked meals. Any dinner at home with my husband or our kids when they were growing up is a celebration. I tried to never miss a meal at home when they were young. They’ve all launched, so now my husband and I have his wonderful meals and discuss interesting topics each night.