Executive Profile: Greta Brunschwyler, executive director of the Leslie Science and Nature Center
“But it turns out, there actually is no such thing,” Brunschwyler said. She said there’s very little call for zoo design, so she went into museum design instead.
In her new position, she gets to combine a love of animals with her expertise in running nonprofit museums, coming to LSNC from the High Desert Museum in Bend, Ore. where she worked as vice president for programs.
She said she feels almost “selfish” about taking the position as director of the center. “I get to learn all these great things,” she said, adding that she also is excited about working with an enthusiastic and engaged staff.
Though Brunschwyler is still settling in and getting to know the center’s partners and programs, she already has exciting new ideas for the organization.
One idea is getting out into the community more. The parking lot of the center, which is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, is sometimes at capacity — and often overflowing. Brunschwyler said she wants to be “sensitive” to her neighbors, and so the center is looking at ways to bring more programs out into the community rather than always having interested parties come to the center.
Though LSNC already does programs in area schools, Brunschwyler wants to do more with schools and also wants to bring nature programs into non-traditional venues. One of those non-traditional venues is the Ann Arbor Veteran’s Hospital. The center is initiating a pilot program that would provide nature programming both to veterans and to the young siblings of patients who may be visiting the hospital.
Brunschwyler said she thinks this is a good fit, because “a lot of studies talk about the healing power of nature.” She said the center staff is also exploring a program for children at risk of obesity, helping them get out and enjoy nature.
The new executive director said she wants to honor the vision of the founders, Eugene and Emily Leslie, by continuing to focus on programming for children, but she’d also like to see more offerings for adults.
“We need to find that balance,” Brunschwyler said. “We’ll still keep the bulk of our programming focused on kids.”
Age: Old enough to know better.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in studio art; master’s in museum design & planning.
Family: Significant other, but roots spread throughout the country.
Residence: Downtown Ann Arbor.
Best business decision: Innovating and taking chances in difficult times.
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Stay on mission.
Personal hero: Pippi Longstockings.
How do you motivate people? Empowering them to solve problems and come up with creative solutions and paths.
What advice would you give to yourself in college? Take advantage of every opportunity.
Word that best describes you: Curious.
First Web site you check in the morning: NY Times.com.
What keeps you up at night? Working out challenges - sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
Pet peeve: A closed mind.
Guilty pleasure: Watching Eddie Izzard.
First job: Feeding the neighbor’s goldfish.
First choice for a new career: Executive director of my newly created personal philanthropic foundation (not quite a reality yet.)
Favorite cause: Things like kids and frogs that are smaller than me and concepts such as cultural understanding that are much greater than I.
Favorite book: “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”
Favorite movie: “Best in Show.”
Favorite hobby: Messing with horses.
Favorite restaurant: Pasqual’s, Santa Fe.
LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter? Yup.
What team do you root for? I think they are called the Wolverines?
Wheels: 2 to 4.
Who would play you in a movie? Tim Burton would have to create a character.