Elizabeth Pierce, President & CEO
Elizabeth Pierce has earnest passion to fuel curiosity, unleash wonder and celebrate knowledge. As the CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center, she sees limitless potential to evoke a spirit of discovery, creativity and critical thinking for people of all ages. At the heart of her leadership is a deep understanding of CMC’s impact on the lives of people in this community and across the globe.
She is an advocate for early childhood education and lifelong learning, beginning her career at Chicago Children’s Museum. She carried that passion to Cincinnati in 1999, serving as a communications consultant to Cincinnati Museum Center in 2001. Her relationship with CMC grew deeper through regular visits to Union Terminal with her young sons. She joined the Duke Energy Children's’ Museum Advisory Board in 2004, serving as the chair of the advisory board and as a CMC trustee before joining staff as vice president of marketing & communications in 2007.
She has been a key member of the senior leadership team for the past eight years, driving financial success through robust museum admissions revenue, OMNIMAX® films and blockbuster special exhibitions including:
BODIES: The Exhibition (2008), Freedom Sisters (2008), America I AM: The African American Imprint (2010), Dinosaurs Unearthed (2010), Cleopatra (2011), Pompeii (2012), Dead Sea Scrolls (2013), Ultimate Dinosaurs (2013), Diana: A Celebration (2014), Mummies of the World (2015), Science of Sports (2015), Art of the Brick (2015), Da Vinci: The Genius (2016) Vikings: Beyond the Legend (2016), and Star Wars: The Power of Costume (2017).
Two community programs that she helped to establish in 2008 are still thriving: Duke Energy Children’s Museum Difference Makers and the annual Learning Through Play Conference.
Elizabeth helped secure the 2009 National Medal of Museum & Library Services award to CMC and the 2012 Accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums.
In 2012, Elizabeth served as a key leader for Cincinnati Museum Center in the merger with National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, bringing together the two organizations to help leverage museum expertise.
During her tenure, Elizabeth has dynamically engaged CMC curators and exhibition staff to leverage the vast collections for community impact and fundraising growth, including the celebration of Union Terminal’s 75th anniversary year (2008), the series of CMC Treasures exhibitions (2012-2015) and the Daughters of the Queen City initiative (2014). From local history to premiere global exhibits, Elizabeth will guide CMC as future content and programs are kept relevant, fresh and prolific for valued visitors.
Elizabeth has been a leader in the efforts to secure public support for Union Terminal. She served as a key staff leader of the 2014 Cultural Facilities Task Force. She helped drive the Save our Icons community engagement campaign in partnership with Music Hall resident companies and Landor and she established a vital partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Elizabeth guided the Union Terminal sales tax campaign, resulting in the passage of this vital community support by 62% of Hamilton County voters.
Cincinnati Museum Center is pleased that Elizabeth will continue to passionately lead the organization building on her extensive experience as a leader in Cincinnati and at other notable museums over the past 20 years. Early in her career, Elizabeth gained experience in the photo archives department of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.; public program development at The Corcoran Gallery of Art; special events and fundraising at The National Endowment for the Arts and the Chicago Children’s Museum. She stepped outside the museum industry for a period of time gaining strategic communications skills, community engagement and media relations expertise.
Elizabeth Pierce deeply treasures the unique range of subjects that CMC presents. Her personal and family experiences have given her a healthy fascination with biology and the natural world; an enthusiasm for geography and an appreciation for layers of context revealed by history. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and studied at the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg. Her experiences overseas as a student of history, architecture and economics ultimately inspired her to pursue a museum career. She holds a Masters of Museum Studies/Administration and American Studies from The George Washington University.
She is a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati, Class 32. She has been a leader in several parenting/school groups, a member of Kindervelt #50, a contributor to Impact 100 and is a current member of the Women’s Capital Club. Elizabeth and her husband, Brad, and their children have been residents of Cincinnati for 15 years and reside in Indian Hill.
Dave Duszynski, President of Mercury Museum Services, a subsidiary of Cincinnati Museum Center
I came to the Museum of Natural History on Gilbert Avenue in 1985 as the planetarium director, just in time for Halley’s Comet. In 1990, along with the opening of Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, I assumed responsibility of the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater operations and have been an executive producer or consulting producer on many OMNIMAX® films during the past 20+ years, including Journey to Space, National Parks Adventure, and Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation. I am a founding officer of the Giant Dome Theater Consortium, a group of seven museums with similar OMNIMAX® theaters, for the purpose of providing financial and production support for promising new films.
Currently, I am also responsible for guest service operations, retail operations, marketing & communications, IT, and for developing featured exhibitions. My degrees are in Astrophysics and Communications from Michigan State University. For me, working in a museum provides the ideal opportunity to spread knowledge about the wonders of culture, the wonders of science and the wonders of the universe — and it keeps me learning, too.
Jill Berkemeier, Vice President for Finance and Administration & Chief Financial Officer
As a Cincinnati native, I grew up in awe of Union Terminal, a National Historic Landmark. Now, I am proud to say that I work there, just another superhero at the Hall of Justice. As a finance leader with over 20 years of professional experience, I’m happy to bring that experience to Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC). I serve as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance and Administration, responsible for financial, accounting and treasury functions, facilities, human resources and administration. In this capacity, I was thrilled to play a critical role in the first full historical restoration of Union Terminal, from the facilitation of the diverse funding sources — including county sales tax levy, federal and state historic tax credits, state grants and private philanthropic gifts — to the management of the project budget and timeline while ensuring compliance with all federal, state and local requirements in collaboration with leadership, Boards, owners’ representative, construction manager, architects, government administration (federal, state and local), various banks and community partners.
Prior to joining CMC, I held the top financial role with Global Novations, LLC. I successfully managed the completion and integration of three acquisitions, which led to an exit strategy that resulted in the acquisition of Global Novations by Korn/Ferry International. During this time, I implemented new systems and processes to form the backbone of the business while providing improved financial and operational data to improve results and facilitate growth. Throughout each acquisition, I integrated the business model from a finance and accounting perspective, as well as the operating business model which included human resources, legal, technology infrastructure and systems, pricing structure, business processes and related impacts to sales and client teams. Prior to that, I held the Director of Financial Analysis position at CBS Personnel, where I focused on budgets, analysis, acquisitions, financing and due diligence; Assistant Controller at Service America; Internal Auditor at the Chemed Corporation and Staff Accountant with concentration on audits and corporate taxes at VonLehman & Co.
I graduated from Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, with a Bachelor of Arts in Accountancy and Associate of Arts in Business Administration. I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) and hold an AICPA Not-for-Profit Certificate: Core Concepts. My passion for accounting continues by serving as an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Whitney A. Owens, Chief Learning Officer
Whitney Owens is Chief Learning Officer for CMC, where she oversees the Museum of Natural History & Science, Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, education, community engagement, and exhibit content development. Owens has spent 20 years in informal science education, creating dynamic visitor experiences to engage and inspire audiences of all ages. From creating compelling stories and learning experiences at The Field Museum in Chicago to leading public, school and out-of-school-time programs as Vice President of Education & Guest Experience at Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, she has helped lead institutions through periods of transformation and growth that guide them to be more relevant, responsive, and exciting places within their communities. In Cleveland, she increased educational interactions by 51%, founded an award-winning teen program, and created fresh initiatives to reach new and underserved audiences and enhance strategic partnerships; in Chicago, she traveled the world with the T. rex “Sue,” created thought-provoking exhibitions, and brought one-of-a-kind experiences to The Field Museum. As a global Noyce Foundation Leadership Fellow, Owens dug deeply into community engagement, leading a major initiative to bring together the Maker and Manufacturing fields in Northeast Ohio and connect kids to STEM where it lives in their community. Owens graduated from Northwestern University and holds a Masters in Cultural Management from the City University of London. She is Board President for the Association of Midwest Museums, an Advisory Board Member for the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, and a proud graduate of Leadership Cincinnati.
Kathleen Bodenlos, Vice President of Marketing, Mercury Museum Services, a subsidiary of Cincinnati Museum Center
Passionate about the lifelong learning benefits and fun experiences that museums offer, Kathleen joins us from her most recent position as director of marketing for Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) in Pittsburgh.
As a research-oriented marketer, she pioneered a movement to better understand CMNH audiences to improve their marketing strategy. Conducting most of the research herself through focus groups and surveys, the approach contributed to increased attendance, visitation and membership across all audience segments. She also enjoyed using her writing skills to find the “cool” in each story, which significantly increased earned and social media reach. She led the museum’s in-house marketing team through several award-winning marketing campaigns promoting large exhibitions, a visitor-inspired rebranding exercise that culminated in a new brand style guide, rewriting and designing the new website (carnegiemnh.org) and writing for and curating a popular blog. She also conceived and filmed “Scientists Live,” a live streaming series later featured on NPR that streams museum scientists discussing their work on obscure collections followed by a live interactive Q&A. The inspiration for this series came from a discussion with her oldest daughter, a teacher at Colerain Elementary, who was looking for fresh ways to introduce her fourth grade students to science.
Prior to working for the museum, Kathleen worked in large corporations, like ITW, and smaller manufacturers like Aladdin primarily in business development and marketing roles. She also worked in consulting positions in various sectors including a university, a law firm, a medical device company and a hospital. She believes these experiences helped her to think about creative ways to unpack complex technical or scientific information for diverse audiences in order to make them more meaningful.
Her ties to Ohio include family that currently resides in Blue Ash and her own experience of living and raising two daughters in Springboro, which is when she discovered and enjoyed the many benefits of Cincinnati Museum Center. She lives in Mt. Adams and is thrilled to work in the newly restored CMC.
David Zlatic, Chief Technology Officer
I first joined Cincinnati Museum Center as a Traveling Exhibits Technician in 2002, after I graduated from the University of Dayton. After moving on to multiple positions elsewhere in Cincinnati — I was director of business operations and technology at Xavier University for 11 years — I returned to Cincinnati Museum Center as Chief Technology Officer in June 2017.
I provide strategic direction to teams to steer them towards success. I practice the use of design thinking and human-centered design as I develop empathy for customers and team members. I believe in the power of adopting and leveraging digital assets and technology. By harnessing this fresh technology, we can improve efficiency, increase productivity and achieve our goals sooner.
I am accomplished in building new ideas from the ground up – providing the foundation for long-term growth. I unite stakeholders and prepare them for change as we reimagine and redevelop existing structures and operations. Additionally, I am an effective educator and trainer with experience in Higher Education and Corporate Training. I thrive on helping others (and myself) realize their visions and dreams!
In my free time, I love spending time with my amazing wife and daughter, Meghan and Maeve. I’m a Cincinnatian at heart, and I love the great strides our hometown has made over the last decades.
Dion Brown, President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Dion Brown brings a wealth of museum, management and branding experience to the position.
Brown was the founding executive director of the National Blues Museum from June 2015–February 2018. He helped the start-up grow and flourish, gaining recognition from CNN, National Geographic and the New York Post as a “must see” museum. His previous role was as executive director of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi. While museum programming, tours, and attendance greatly expanded under Brown’s leadership, he simultaneously raised funds, balanced the organization’s budget and positioned the organization as a viable business and a strong community resource and champion. In 2013 he was recognized by the Delta Business Journal as one of its Top Minority Business Leaders. Prior to his leadership at the BB King Museum, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas. He directed a staff of more than 70 people, and managed the day-to-day operations of the museum and its $5 million budget.
Brown holds a certificate of fundraising from the IUPUI School of Philanthropy, a bachelor’s of science in human resources and a master’s of science in leadership from Southwestern College. He is also retired from the United States Air Force after 21 years of service.