MAAM Leadership

The Board of Directors includes an Executive Committee as well as one representative each from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and six Members-at-Large.



Kahla DeSmit

Executive Director

Kahla DeSmit is the former Executive Director of the Lewisburg Children’s Museum. Previously she worked as the Interim Visitor Services Manager at Gracie Mansion in New York City. DeSmit holds a B.A. degree from Susquehanna University and an M.A. degree from the SUNY Oneonta Cooperstown Graduate Program. She is a passionate life-long learner and advocate of the special place museums can and should have in our communities.





Michelle Paulus-Baumgarten

Membership and Operations Manager

Michelle currently serves as Membership and Operations Manager. With a Masters degree in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Michelle is passionate about fundraising and nonprofit administration. She has raised over $15 million for nonprofit organizations via Major Gifts, Sponsorship, Special Events, Membership, and Foundation support.

Board of Directors

Executive Committee


President: Deborah Schwartz


From 2006 until 2020 Ms. Schwartz was President and CEO of Brooklyn Historical Society, a nationally renowned urban history center founded in 1863. During her tenure, Ms. Schwartz guided groundbreaking projects including the award-winning Oral History Program; In Pursuit of Freedom: The Brooklyn Abolitionists (in partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center and Irondale Ensemble Project); Teen Innovators (at the Brooklyn Navy Yard); and Public Perspectives: a series of community curated exhibitions. In 2017, Deborah launched a satellite museum in the Empire Stores building in DUMBO. In 2020, Ms. Schwartz successfully led the effort to merge Brooklyn Historical Society with the Brooklyn Public Library.

From 2002 to 2006 she served as the Edward John Noble Foundation Deputy Director for Education at the Museum of Modern Art.  In 2002, she curated the critically acclaimed exhibition, Art Inside Out for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan that featured work by contemporary artists Elizabeth Murray, William Wegman, and Fred Wilson. From 1983 to 2000 Ms. Schwartz was Vice Director for Education and Program Development at the Brooklyn Museum. She has published articles on public discourse and community building in museums. A recognized leader in the field of museum education, she has taught graduate seminars on museum management for NYU’s Museum Studies Program, and at Columbia University Teacher’s College in the Arts Administration Program; Internationally, Ms. Schwartz has offered workshops on museum leadership in China and the Ukraine.

Ms. Schwartz has consulted on a range of governance, institutional leadership, and education matters for institutions including The Pew Charitable Trust, American Federation of Arts, The Berkshire Museum, Harley Davidson Corporation, The Jewish Museum (New York), New York State Council on the Arts, and The Parrish Art Museum.

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Vice President: Amanda Dunyak Gillen

Director of Learning & Visitor Experience, The Frick Pittsburgh

Amanda holds a B.A. in History from Allegheny College and an M.A. in Public History from Duquesne University. In addition to overseeing all adult, student and family programs related to the museum’s diverse collection, she is responsible for several initiatives under the Frick’s Strategic Plan, including the development of a Visitor Experience Master Plan. Her museum career began in the curatorial departments at the Senator John Heinz History Center and at the Frick. For several years her work spanned across both curatorial and education departments as she served as curator of Clayton, the historic home of Henry Clay Frick, and simultaneously developed tours and trained interpretive staff. Amanda served on the design team for the Frick’s $15 million dollar expansion (a new Visitor Center, a renovated Car & Carriage Museum, collections storage, and a new Education Center) to support programming for learners of all ages and needs. Amanda serves on the steering committee of the Pittsburgh Museum Educators Roundtable, a professional organization that builds a community of practice for museum educators by providing opportunity for networking, partnering, and shared professional development. She is also an adjunct professor in the Public History graduate program at Duquesne University, where she teaches a course on public programming.

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Treasurer: David Cole

President and CEO, Science History Institute, Philadelphia, PA

David Cole began his tenure as President and CEO of the Science History Institute in Philadelphia in May 2020. Previously, he served as Executive Director of the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, DE.  Prior to his tenure at Hagley, Dr. Cole served as Vice President at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA and as Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Harvard Art Museums of Harvard University.  A graduate of Vanderbilt University, he received a master’s degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in the history of art and American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.  Dr. Cole has been a Henry Luce Foundation Fellow, a Research Fellow of the Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA) of Harvard University, and has taught at Harvard University, Rice University, and the University of Texas at Austin.  He is a trustee of the Robert Creeley Foundation, the Catalogue for Philanthropy, and the Delaware Council on Economic Education.


Secretary: Dr. Angela Winand (Washington, DC)

Program Administrator, Professional Curation Program, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Angela Winand is currently the Program Administrator, Professional Curation Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Previously, she was the Director of the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage and Diversity Programming at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington where she worked with her colleagues to create engaging educational experiences for visitors of all ages at the Delaware History Museum, and to develop collections focused on preserving black history in Delaware. Dr. Winand currently serves on the board of the Redding House Foundation, which manages the childhood home of Louis Redding, the first African American lawyer in the state and a key figure in a companion case to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.  Dr. Winand created educational programs at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Before starting a new career as a museum professional, she spent 20 years teaching courses in African American history and culture at the college level. She holds a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and is a graduate of the Museum Studies Master’s program at Johns Hopkins University.



New Jersey: Sean Blinn

Director of Programming, Heritage Trail Association: Bridgewater, NJ

Sean Blinn is a museum professional focusing on evaluation and developing participatory experiences. He currently serves as Director of Programming for the Heritage Trail Association in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and has also served as a trustee of that organization. He is a former President of the Board of Trustees of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, a historic house museum in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he remains a member of the Board. His involvement in history museums extends to service on the American Association for State and Local History’s Small Museums Committee, and he has recently start blogging for AASLH about how to advocate for museums with municipal and county government.

Outside the museum field, Mr. Blinn has extensive service in municipal and county government. He is a current member of the Bedminster Township (NJ) Historic Preservation Commission. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Somerset County (NJ) Cultural and Heritage Commission, where he serves on the Arts Committee and History Committee. Prior to this, he was Chairman of the Bedminster Township Environmental Commission and Vice Chairman of the Bedminster Township Planning Board.

Before joining the museum field, he worked in the technology sector, including working as Senior Manager of Quality and Process at AT&T, where he wrote and reviewed process documentation, as well as leading software user acceptance testing projects.

He holds an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in Political Science from Binghamton University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Haverford College.

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New York: Melissa Kiewiet

Executive Director, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance, New York, New York

Melissa Kiewiet is the Director of Development and Community Engagement at the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance. Kiewiet wears many hats in their position, a few of which are: creating and implementing a social media strategy, bolstering individual, corporate and institutional giving, creating new guiding initiatives aimed at bettering the neighborhood, managing the internship program, and overseeing museum operations. They are passionate about museums as drivers for social change and as community anchors. 

Kiewiet earned her Bachelors’ degree in History from Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee. They are a graduate of the Cooperstown Graduate Program at the State University of New York College at Oneonta where they earned their Masters degree in Museum Studies. They have worked in various development departments in the arts and culture sector prior to their current position and serves on the Maryville College Alumni Association Board.

Pennsylvania: Marcus Harshaw

Senior Director of Museum Experiences, Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Marcus A. Harshaw is the dynamic, enthusiastic, and impassioned Senior Director of Museum Experiences at Carnegie Science Center. As the chief fanatic of the guest experience at the most visited museum in Pittsburgh, Marcus leads the team that develops and delivers socially relevant science content in unique and meaningful ways.

Marcus is passionate about the intersection of informal education and the lived experiences of the guests that museums serve. Over the course of almost two decades in the museum field, he has developed a deep understanding of the guest experience by working in progressively more responsible positions in a variety of museums with focuses on science, history, early learning, and natural history. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Marcus served as the Vice President of Education & Exhibits at Kaleideum, strategically uniting the experience teams and laying the groundwork for a $30 million new campus construction.

Marcus’ recent accomplishments include being part of the team leading Carnegie Science Center out of the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming how science exhibitions communicate tough, social topics instead of science 101-level content in the new exhibition Mars: The Next Giant Leap, leading the Science Center’s collaborative 10-year experience planning process, and driving earned revenue strategies through exhibits and theaters.

Harshaw earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus in the Early American Republic from Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky with a minor in Ancient Civilizations, and a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies from The Johns Hopkins University, where he now serves as an award-winning lecturer teaching museum education.

Maryland: Nancy Proctor

Chief Strategy Officer and Founding Director, The Peale, Baltimore, MD

Nancy Proctor is Chief Strategy Officer and founding Executive Director of The Peale, Baltimore’s Community Museum, based in the first purpose-built museum in the U.S. Previously, Nancy was Deputy Director of Digital Experience and Communications at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2014-2016), Head of Mobile Strategy and Initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution (2010-2014), and Head of New Media Initiatives at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum (2008-2010).

With a PhD in American art history and a background in filmmaking, curation and feminist theory and criticism in the arts, Nancy lectures and publishes widely on technology and innovation in museums, in French and Italian as well as English. She edited Mobile Apps for Museums: The AAM Guide to Planning and Strategy in 2010, and coordinated the publication of Inclusive Digital Interactives: Best Practices + Research for MuseWeb with Access Smithsonian and the Institute for Human Centered Design in 2020. Nancy served as Co-chair of the international MuseWeb (formerly Museums and the Web) Conferences with Rich Cherry, and edited its annual proceedings from 2012-2020. Nancy created her first online exhibition in 1995 and went on to publish the New Art CD-ROM and website of contemporary art – a first in the UK – in 1996.

She co-founded in 1998 with Titus Bicknell to present virtual tours of innovative exhibitions alongside comprehensive global museum and gallery listings. The Gallery Channel was later acquired by Antenna Audio, where Nancy led New Product Development from 2000-2008, introducing the company’s multimedia, sign language, downloadable, podcast and cellphone tours. She also directed Antenna’s sales in France from 2006-2007, and was part of the Travel Channel’s product development team 2007-2008.

As program chair Nancy led the development of the Museums Computer Network (MCN) conference programs 2010-2011, and co-organized the Tate Handheld conference 2008 & 2010 with Jane Burton. She started the MuseumMobile wiki and podcast series in 2008, was Digital Editor of Curator: The Museum Journal from 2009-2014, and has served on the Journal’s editorial board, as well as on the Board of Directors of the Omnimuseum Project.


At-Large: Jacqueline Eyl

Chief Program Officer, KID Museum: Bethesda, MD

Jacqueline Eyl is the Chief Program Officer at the KID Museum in Bethesda. Prior to that, she was the founding Director of Youth Education at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. She holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching from the Museum Education Program at The George Washington University and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Archaeology from Emory University. She has over 30 years’ experience working in museums in both exhibition and interactive development as well as educational program and curriculum development. She has worked at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta Georgia, The Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Building Museum, Discovery Creek Children’s Museum and the National Museum of Dentistry. Most recently, Jackie was a creative lead on the reimagining of the International Spy Museum’s exhibitions and move to a new state of the art building in L’Enfant Plaza, DC. She researched and curated various exhibitions and led the development of the new RFID-enabled Undercover Mission interactives. Jackie also currently serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Museum Studies program at Johns Hopkins University and teaches and mentors students in The George Washington University Museum Education Program.

At-Large: David Searles, AIA, LEED AP

Partner, JacobsWyper Architects, Philadelphia, PA

David Searles is an architect specializing in museum and cultural projects including planning, renovations, and the design of new buildings.  For more than 30 years, he has supported institutions such as The Franklin Institute, Independence Visitor Center, Nemours Estate, and the Academy of Natural Sciences fulfill their visions of growth while remaining true to their heritage.  With such a diverse portfolio of work he has honed a unique set of skills to coalesce the built environment with the exhibits, interpretation, and education they serve. Understanding clients’ needs and adapting to ever shifting circumstances, David excels in synthesizing complex projects to enhance the communities they serve. David takes a wholistic, human-centered approach to his work, “born in my interest in solving problems for people…” making their day-to-day lives better, perhaps even enlightening.

At-Large: Annie Storr

Affiliate Scholar, Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center

Annie Storr has devoted her career to exploring the intersection of art history and public education. She holds an M.A.T. in Museum Education for GWU,  Ph.D. in Art History from the U. Delaware and other degrees in Art and Religion. She was awarded a National Graduate Fellowship from the US Dept. of Education for her dissertation on the intellectual history of core themes in American art museum docent tours, traced back to the 18thC. Annie was the founding Chair of Education Studies Department at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Prior to that, she was Head of Education Programs for the American Alliance (Association) of Museums, as well as Director of Arts Management at American University. She has been a practicing museum educator for more than 3 decades, first as Curator of Education at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Canada).  With an evolving group of students and colleagues, Annie created the guided-looking method called, “Exercises for the Quiet Eye” at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, at Harvard’s Museum Studies program, and at Pendle Hill near Philadelphia.  In 2021, she was the Frances Shaw Fellow at Ragdale Art Colony, where she drafted 7 chapters of a book about the philosophy & practice of EQE.  She lives in Greater Washington, DC, is a Terra Foundation Research & Education Fellow at Hull House (Chicago), and teaches one semester each year in New England. She is an Affiliate Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center and teaches at the College of Holy Cross (art history/humanities) and the University of New Hampshire (museum studies).

At-Large: Sonnet Takahisa

Independent Consultant, Arts and Cultural Strategies

Sonnet Takahisa brings years of experience in museums, arts education and schools. Sonnet focuses on public engagement, community building and education and institutional reform. Most recently she served as Director of Education at the Brooklyn Historical Society, and before that was part of the management team at the Newark Museum where she advocated across all Museum divisions to ensure an ongoing and productive conversation with a diverse and growing audience. At the Boston Children’s Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum she has employed innovative leadership, creative partnerships, and strategic planning to emphasize the importance of remaining relevant and inspiring to one’s communities. From 1993 – 2003 she was founding co-director of the NYC Museum School, a groundbreaking public school that engaged secondary school students by providing direct access to the resources of cultural institutions. In her current consulting practice that focuses on program design and evaluation, she brings creativity and intellectual rigor to inspire and create change, pushing and leading the museum, arts and education professions to provide enriching and innovative opportunities for all audiences. She holds a BA from Harvard and a MA from the University of Washington, School of International Studies.

At-Large: Beth Van Why

Senior Project Manager, Becker & Frondorf, Philadelphia, PA

Beth Van Why is an owner’s rep project manager with Becker & Frondorf, focusing primarily on work with museums and cultural institutions. Beth has a variety of museum and design experience, and a deep understanding of the challenges that are intrinsic to the project development process. She has a thorough understanding of Board relations, communication and approval processes, and the timelines needed to complete museum projects. Beth joined B&F in 2018 and has worked with a variety of museums and non-profits throughout the mid-Atlantic.

She has served on MAAM’s Building Museums planning and sponsorship committees since 2019.

Prior to joining B&F, Beth was with the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, where she oversaw exhibitions, education and programming, maintenance, security, and historic preservation teams for the 12 locations associated with ISMHS. She led the in-house design and renovation of six permanent galleries, creation of more than 20 temporary exhibitions throughout the system, and implementation of a new interpretive center. As part of the senior leadership team, she also worked on system-wide strategy development. Prior to working at ISMHS, she was the Director of Exhibition Operations at the National Constitution Center where she led the travel and installation of the award-winning exhibition American Spirits.

Van Why holds a master’s degree in Industrial Design from the University of the Arts and a bachelor’s degree in architecture with a minor in history from Virginia Tech.

Board Member Emeritus: Gretchen Sullivan Sorin

Director, Cooperstown Graduate Program

Gretchen Sorin holds a B.A. in American Studies (Rutgers University), an M.A. in Museum Studies (Cooperstown Graduate Program) and a Ph.D. in American history (University at Albany/SUNY). Dr. Sorin has over 35 years of experience in the museum profession consulting with more than 250 museums. She has served as guest curator for many exhibitions including Through the Eyes of Others: African Americans and Identity in American Art; the nationally acclaimed traveling exhibition, Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews for the Jewish Museum (NY), and the award-winning Wilderness Cure: Tuberculosis and the Adirondacks for the Adirondack Museum. She is Director and Distinguished Professor of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Dr. Sorin writes and lectures frequently on African American history and museum practice.

PO Box 4 Cooperstown, NY 13326


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