Nicole Krom

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!

Tiffany Allen

STEM Experience Manager, Girl Scouts of New Jersey

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 STEM Experience Manager at the Girl Scouts of New Jersey. Prior, she was Manager of Early Childhood Initiatives at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University where she provided 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.

Patrick Wittwer

AVp, Heritage marketing & museums, Wells Fargo

Marketing & Communications Chair, Visitor Experience Group

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Patrick Wittwer, a graduate of the renowned Disney Guest Service training program, has worked in cultural and tourist attractions for nearly 20 years including stints as the director of the Elfreth’s Alley Museum, the manager of Visitor Services at Please Touch Museum, and several other stops along the East Coast. An avid traveler, Patrick enjoys adapting guest service models from institutions around the world to fit his organization. Currently, Patrick runs Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Museum, and is likely the biggest Muppet fan you will ever meet.

Kyle Cantarera

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.

Cynthia Helmstetter

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.

Krista Kusuma

Guest Experience Consultant

Audience Engagement Chair, Visitor Experience Group

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Krista is an avid connector and community builder, having founded and nurtured professional networks on two coasts. As a Guest Experience Consultant, she helps clients optimize and deepen visitor engagement. Formerly the Associate Director of Education at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (ICA), Krista pioneered the widely acclaimed and duplicated Visitor Experience Program of expert cross-trained Visitors Engagement Associates. Her model has since been adopted and adapted at many other institutions including the Queens Museum in New York. She holds MA degrees in Art History (Boston University) and Education (Azusa Pacific University), has 20 years of teaching experience, and is mother to two preschool-age boys. Krista is delighted to join VEX and support the work of the incredible Audience Engagement team of national VEX Ambassadors and Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Fellows.

Daniel Corti

Director, Faith and Liberty Discovery Center

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.

Marketing & Communications Committee

Iso Akpabio, Manager of Guest Sales & Services, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, CO

Wenlu “Lulu” Bao, Curatorial and Marketing Assistant, The Delaware Contemporary, Wilmington, DE

Al 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

Events Committee

Mark Baird, Manager of Guest Services, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ

Ali Van Norden, Events Manager, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee

Elena Bras, Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, PA

VEX Ambassadors

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, CA

Doug Buchanan, Vice President of Membership, Marketing, and Guest Relations, Center of Science and Industry, Columbus, OH

Christine Goerss-Barton, Guest Services Manager, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

Sam Hwang, Manager Guest Services, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ