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 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: The 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.
Jill Berkemeier, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Administration, Cincinnati Museum Center, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati Museums Foundation
Jill Berkemeier, a Cincinnati native, grew up in awe of Union Terminal and, since 2015, counts herself among the superheroes working at the Hall of Justice. She brings nearly 30 years of professional finance experience to her role as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Administration for Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. She is responsible for financial, accounting and treasury functions, as well as facilities, human resources and administration. In this capacity, she helped lead the first full historical restoration in Union Terminal’s history – a $228M project through which Jill managed over $175M in sales tax funds from Hamilton County and during which she also led the process to secure more than $45M in historic tax credits at the State and Federal levels. During the two-and-a-half-year restoration project, she oversaw the management of the project budget and timeline as well, coordinating efforts from museum leadership, Boards, owner’s representative, construction manager, architects, government administrations, banks and community partners while ensuring compliance with federal, state and local requirements around the National Historic Landmark’s restoration.
Coming out of Union Terminal’s historic restoration, Jill has managed budgets and timelines for the museum’s $112M Champion More Curiosity campaign that is building over a dozen new permanent exhibits and galleries while again ensuring historic preservation, building code and facilities compliance.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jill successfully secured more than $17 million in critical COVID relief funding, including PPP loans, Employee Retention Tax Credits and Shuttered Venue Operator Grants, while exhausting every viable funding opportunities to minimize the impact of the pandemic on both Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. During the pandemic, Jill successfully oversaw balanced budgets for the organizations at a time of significant uncertainty in the museum and attractions industries. Through her leadership, both museums were also able to invest in staff pay, training and development, increasing organizational capacity and effectiveness. Under her guidance during the pandemic, both museums have been able to continue ambitious goals for the future, completing new exhibits and needed upgrades, while also leading a future-oriented focus on organizational longevity.
Prior to joining Cincinnati Museum Center, Jill held accounting and financial leadership roles with VonLehman & Company Inc. and Chemed Corporation as well as executive suite roles with CBS Personnel and Global Novations, LLC. She has managed company-wide budgets, accounting, finance, human resources and IT functions and mergers and acquisitions. She is a graduate of Thomas More University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Further, Jill holds American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Not-for-Profit Certificate: Core Concepts and is an active member of the AICPA and Kentucky Society of CPAs.
Dave Duszynski, President, 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.
Cody Hefner, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Mercury Museum Services, Cincinnati Museum Center and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Cody Hefner joined Cincinnati Museum Center in 2011 as Manager of Visitor Services. In 2013, he joined the Marketing team and has been involved in the development and implementation of marketing and communications plans for over a dozen major exhibitions and 15 OMNIMAX® films, winning industry awards for his execution, ingenuity and effectiveness. Hefner has climbed trees as a lemur for Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, hauled giant LEGO bricks to local landmarks as part of the #WhatTheBrick campaign for The Art of the Brick, garnered national media attention for the Freedom Center’s and Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center’s Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz: 70 Years Later exhibition and encouraged a mountain climber to safely rappel down Union Terminal for National Parks Adventure.
Cody helped rally support for Union Terminal’s Yes on 8 campaign in 2014 that paved the way for the National Historic Landmark’s restoration and led communications efforts around the $228 million restoration project from 2016-2018. During the restoration, he also led communications for the Curate My Community initiative, during which the museum displayed over 700 museum objects across Greater Cincinnati. Since the reopening of Union Terminal in 2018, Cody has led marketing and communications efforts around the reopening and installation of new permanent exhibits and is working with Cincinnati Museum Center’s Philanthropy team on communications around the $112 million Champion More Curiosity campaign to build the museum’s future.
Cody has a BA in history and American Studies and MA in history from Miami University as well as a MiniMBA certificate. Outside of Cincinnati Museum Center, Cody serves on the board of Junior Achievement of Butler/Warren Counties, the George Washington University Digital Marketing Advisory Board and the Movers & Makers Editorial Board.
Cody also serves as Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
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, The 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.
Scott Schuster, Vice President, Philanthropy and President of Cincinnati Museums Foundation
Scott Schuster is a results focused senior philanthropy and nonprofit executive with a proven history of building collaborative teams focused on elevated impact and results. A devoted advocate of the power of education and lifelong learning, he serves as the Vice President, Philanthropy at Cincinnati Museum Center and President, Cincinnati Museums Foundation. He is currently guiding the nationally acclaimed museum through a period of reinvention and growth through their $112 million Champion More Curiosity campaign, the largest fundraising campaign in its history.
As CMC’s Vice President, Philanthropy, he is responsible for overseeing individual giving, planned giving, corporate and foundation relations, and government relations at the local, state, and federal levels. In addition, Scott provides leadership and oversight for all operational fundraising areas including database management, data analytics, gift administration and finance, stewardship and donor relations, and development communications.
A career fundraiser, he has seen firsthand the transformative impact of philanthropy in the communities he serves. Scott is passionate about creating authentic, longstanding relationships with people and organizations who have a shared vision for the community. He is recognized for his servant leadership approach in driving organizational change and his expertise in building partnerships with the private and public sectors as well as with community and philanthropic leaders. Prior to joining the Cincinnati Museum Center, he was a part of two, billion dollar+ fundraising campaigns at the University of Cincinnati and University of Cincinnati Foundation where he played a key role in the planning, funding, and completion of a new state of the art, $120 million, 225,000 sq. ft. business school (opened in 2019).
He holds a Master of Science in marketing, a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing, and two graduate certificates in corporate marketing and organizational leadership from the University of Cincinnati, Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Scott serves as an adjunct instructor within the marketing department and is a member of the Lindner Alumni Council at his alma mater. He was chosen as a 2023 Forty Under 40 awardee by the Cincinnati Business Courier and is currently going through Leadership Cincinnati, Class 47. Scott and his wife, Molly, are born and raised Cincinnatians and are proud to raise their children, Sophia, Zachary, and Olivia in their hometown.
David Zlatic, Chief Technology Officer, Mercury Museum Services, Cincinnati Museum Center, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
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.
Woodrow “Woody” Keown, Jr., President & Chief Operating Officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Woody is the President and Chief Operating Officer for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC).
Woody brings proven business and community leadership to NURFC, building on his career as a business executive, entrepreneur, business investor, philanthropist and community leader. Prior to joining NURFC as President and COO, Woody was an executive retiree (+35 years) of global consumer goods leader The Procter & Gamble Company, with a career that was highlighted by the instrumental role he played in the creation and development of the Swiffer and Febreze brands. He currently chairs three non-profit boards and serves as a mentor to young African-American males in underserved K-12 schools in the Greater Cincinnati area. Woody’s entrepreneurial experience includes being a founding member of Legacy Acquisition Sponsor I, LLC; Founder and Managing Director of CoValCreã, LLC (business consulting); founding director and officer of Allen Temple – Tryed Stone Development, Ltd (commercial real estate development). Woody served three years active duty as a U.S. Army officer.