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Changes a’brewin’ at Coyote Point Museum

By rgordon
Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 at 3:42 pm in Uncategorized.

A new executive director at the once-headed-for-closure Coyote Point Museum could be announced as soon as Thursday morning, according to Linda Lanier, the museum’s president of the board of the trustees. The board of trustees will meet Wednesday night to take a final vote on the new hire.

“We are absolutely so solidly unanimous that this is the person with the skill set we need at this point in time,” Lanier said.

Lanier said that 47 candidates applied for the position. The pool was narrowed to 17, and five finalists were chosen, all of whom came to the museum for extensive interviews.
Coyote Point Museum
Meanwhile, the museum has restructured its education department, and recently laid off a staff member in the process. But Lanier insisted that the change does not represent a shrinking priority of education at the environmental center.

“There was a staffing change made, but it had nothing to do with our focus on education,” Lanier said. “That’s our focus, that’s always been our focus – the education department.”

Michelle Martin, the museum’s acting executive director, said that they did away with the education department structure of a director of and three staff members (though for the last six months, there had only been two).

“We changed our staff model because we were gearing up to do more,” Martin said. “We had to look at a new model because that wasn’t working.”

Instead, the museum will have two people in management positions in the department and hire six people who will be permanent part-time employees, a structure that Martin said will allow for better flexibility for staffing the department’s various educational endeavors, which can occur throughout the day and on weekends.

Beginning in April, the museum will be adding live wildlife shows, with six performances a week, as well as an invertebrate touch pool in the environmental hall (shown above) complete with starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. The department also plans to hire about 10 temporary counselors for its summer camp programs, Martin said.

The 52-year-old museum was on the brink of closure when it made its mounting deficit — some $745,000 — public in July. Headed by Lanier, the grass roots Campaign to Save Coyote Point swooped in with a plan to save the museum and $558,000 in pledges from more than 800 donors. The group secured another $500,000 in grants to help bring the museum into the black. Lanier and the museum’s new board are now overseeing an overhaul of the museum’s exhibits to emphasize environmental threats, balancing the budget and significantly increasing fundraising efforts for the endowment.

The museum had been through eight directors in the last decade.

”This place is really turning around,” Martin said.

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2 Responses to “Changes a’brewin’ at Coyote Point Museum”

  1. Reiko Ando Says:

    This is a letter that I sent to some staffers and board members of the Coyote Point Museum on March 15; I had not received a response as of today (March 18).

    The Museum’s response does not change the fact that the position of the person who was laid off has been reposted on the Coyote Point Museum website (see http://www.coyoteptmuseum.org for the job announcement), and that the restructured model shows a devaluation in the quality of education that is being pursued at the Museum. The new structure indicates that the new staff members are also not valued enough to warrant decent pay or benefits, which all working individuals need when seeking employment in a region with a high cost of living.

    I loved working at the museum; the interaction with the school groups and visitors, as well as the myriad volunteers and staffers, had been a vital part of my career. I hope to see the Museum thrive with not only the best of intentions, but by following the right path.

    Here is the email letter that was sent:

    Subject: What I’d like to see at CPM as a former staff member:

    a) Staff appreciation and retention through adequate pay and benefits
    (with reasonable pay raises and cost of living adjustments), respect,
    fair hiring and retention practices, and mechanism of input/
    accountability for directors/administrators by their staff
    b) Full transparency of objectives on the part of administrators/
    directors/board members
    c) Commitment to educational goals of equity, fairness, personal and
    community accountability/justice, ecological awareness and academic
    rigor while having programs that are experiential, engaging and fun
    d) Become community leaders in green initiatives, and a resource for
    community members – remembering Museum’s mission of being “a learning
    center that inspires each of us to make a lifelong commitment to act
    responsibly in caring for the earth” (from http://www.coyoteptmuseum.org)
    e) Commitment to diversity based on race/ethnicity/class/gender/
    sexual orientation/ability in recruiting members of the advisory
    panel, board of directors and staff (especially in administrative and
    education positions); not enough people of color in key positions,
    and commitment to diversity not emphasized in job announcement
    portion of website
    f) Accountability to the needs of the community – with board members
    consisting not only of big $ donors, but of actual community members
    (both youth and their guardians) who go to the museum
    g) Commitment to cultural, linguistic and religious competency to
    reflect the diverse needs of the community in signage, programming,
    and holiday events
    h) Accessibility to diverse socioeconomic groups through outreach and
    scholarship opportunities

    A responsible community-based environmental education organization of
    the 21st century, especially in the Bay Area, must prioritize the
    above in order to thrive and function. I would love to hear back
    about what the Coyote Point Museum is doing to address these issues.
    If you need input on how the Museum can work toward these goals, many
    of us who are currently and formerly involved with the Museum (both
    staff and visitors) have a lot to offer.

    Thank you. i hope that the museum is on the right path; it still
    holds a special place in my heart.

    Sincerely,

    Reiko Ando
    Former Educator, Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education
    (2002-2005)

  2. Reiko Ando Says:

    Update: I’ve gotten a response from Linda Lanier, President of the Board of Trustees, who thanked me for my message and said that the issues will be taken up at at a meeting between her and the new executive director this week.

    Thank you, Linda!

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