Membership and Outreach Manager, Longwood Gardens
Founder and Chair, Visitor Experience Group
Nicole has worn many hats in her ten-year career in the non-profit arts and culture field and learned a bit along the way about senior management, visitor services & experiences, membership programs, communications, fiscal planning, strategic planning, community engagement, event planning, volunteer recruitment, and public programming. Raised in family businesses from an early age, customer relations has always been top of mind. She has developed a talent in creating welcoming environments for the public and fostering trust, collegiality, and support among workplace peers.
Imagining and executing new ideas are passions. In 2011 she identified a gap in the museum field in quality professional development opportunities for the front-lines visitor services staff. Working with knowledgeable colleagues as resources, they are now 6 years into our annual Visitor Experience Conference and now attracting attendees from all over the country and internationally.
Nicole graduated with an M.A. in Museum Education from the University of the Arts, is the current president of the Museum Council of Greater Philadelphia, and is always looking to learn about and get involved with new projects and organizations. Contact her to talk shop or just to say hello!
Director of Visitor Services and Assistant Director of Operations, The Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians
Marketing Vice-Chair, Visitor Experience Group
Working in Visitor Services since 2000, Daniel has worked at a variety of institutions that include The Franklin Institute, Please Touch Museum, The Independence Seaport Museum, The Academy of Natural Sciences, The Barnes Foundation and the Mütter Museum at The College of Physicians. Not always the Director, his experience has propelled him through the ranks. He has had the pleasure of consulting with a variety of museums on everything from lobby redesigns, way-finding, traffic management and visitor services department development. His ability to relate to staff and guest perspectives makes him the constant champion for both a quality visitor experience as well as an invested and passionate staff member.
Manager of Early Childhood Initiatives, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Program Chair, Visitor Experience Group
Tiffany is a native Jersey girl and has been in the museum/professional development/customer service field for over 10 years. She has a degree in Museum Education from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and has worked at a variety of Philadelphia cultural institutions. Tiffany is currently the Manager of Early Childhood Initiatives at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University where she provides training for teachers. She is excited to have been a part of the founding board of the Visitor Experience Conference and looks forward to many more years of providing professional development at this conference for individuals in the Visitor Services field.
Museum Manager, Wells Fargo Museum
Marketing Chair, Visitor Experience Group
Patrick Wittwer, a graduate of the renowned Disney Guest Service training program, has worked in Visitor Experience for over 15 years including stints at Elfreth’s Alley, Please Touch Museum, the Franklin Institute, and more. An avid traveler, Patrick enjoys adapting guest service models from institutions around the world to fit his organization. Currently, Patrick is the Vice President of the Museum Council of Philadelphia, the Museum Manager at the Wells Fargo Museum, and is likely the biggest Muppet fan you will ever meet.
Visitor Experience Manager, Mt. Cuba Center
Hospitality Chair, Visitor Experience Group
Kyle has been striving to improve guest experiences for more than 10 years with stops that include the Delaware Museum of Natural History, Hagley Museum and Library, and Longwood Gardens. Currently, he is enhancing encounters at Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. Research is kind of his thing (M.A. in History from the University of Delaware), and he has a special interest in visitor studies and their implementation within a museum setting. He also attempts to play golf and loves traveling to faraway places.
Senior Specialist, Administration and Development, Eastern State Penitentiary
Engagement Chair, Visitor Experience Group
A long-time advocate of tourism and cultural institutions in Philadelphia, April O’Brien oversaw the creation of the department of Visitor Services at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. Before moving to Philadelphia, April discovered her passion for working with visitors at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. She believes strongly in the arrival experience; confidence in delivery and competence around the subject are critical components to a successful visitor experience. April is thrilled to be in her forth year working with VEX!
Visitor Services Manager, Museum of the American Revolution
Events Chair, Visitor Experience Group
Involved with museums since her teens, Cynthia has opened two major museums in Philadelphia in under ten years; including, two years staging, opening and managing guest services at the new Museum of the American Revolution. Cynthia was the Visitor Services Manager at The Barnes Foundation during the six formative years before and after its opening, working to tune the new building to meet the demands of the crowds and the leadership. She has also held roles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Betsy Ross House.
The experiences of developing new programs, staffing strategies and floor operations have deepened her passion for problem solving and sharing her knowledge with others. Over the past decade, she has molded her career to include ticketing and systems operations, in addition to consulting on traditional Visitor Services duties.
A Pittsburgh native, she began her museum career as a Teen Docent and then an Education staff member at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in her hometown of Pittsburgh. She received her MA in Museum Communication from the University of the Arts. She enjoys running, yoga and visiting museums throughout the Northeast.
Marketing & Communications Committee
Wenlu “Lulu” Bao, Curatorial and Marketing Assistant, The Delaware Contemporary, Wilmington, DE
Alix Leszczynski, Science Interpreter, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA
Mike Madeja, Museum Programs Manager, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA
Alex Silagyi, Manager of Guest Services, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ
Brittany Wickham, Science Interpreter, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA
Mark Baird, Manager of Guest Services, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ
Ali Van Norden, Events Manager, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA
Donna Tuggle, Volunteer and Visitor Services Manager, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian, Washington, DC
Audience Engagement Committee
Krista Kusuma, Guest Experience Consultant, Fremont, CA
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee
Elena Bras, Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, CA
Krista Kusuma, Guest Experience Consultant
Jennifer Padilla, Senior Director of Visitor Experience, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA
Melissa Falkenham, Manager, Group Services, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Laura Brooks, Visitor Engagement Administrative Associate, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego
Doug Buchanan, Vice President of Membership, Marketing, and Guest Relations, Center of Science and Industry