Story 11: Learning to Lead

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Roles of the Players

Written by Mike Spock

I marveled how members of our staff found different ways to contribute different skills, experiences, and attitudes to our work. I found that, at least in my mind, they seemed to cluster into distinct roles.


Unique in both the depth of their passions and the persistence of their visions, visionaries were apt to be a handful: often uncompromising, difficult to manage, sometimes stuck on un-useful approaches. However, what they contributed to their clients, to the museum, and to their professions was profound. We thought they were definitely worth the trouble. Their work made us especially proud to be associated with the museum. Examples were Joan Lester, Bernie Zubrowski, Jeri Robinson, Phylis Morrison, Karen Ann Zien, Sue Jackson, BJ Clemson, Anne Hawley, and me working on What's Inside?, the Grouping Birds MATCh Kit, and the Visitor Center, in my early tenure at the museum in the '60s.

Developers and Doers

Insightful and flexible practitioners they seemed to successfully balance their commitments to their clients, their content, and their favorite media. They worked wherever they were needed, and were willing schleppers. Examples of insightful developer/doers were Ruth Green, Judy White Marsolini, Jenefer Merrill, Nancy Olson, Binda Reich Colebrook, Sharon Williamson, Ed Grusheski, Janet Kamien, Aylette Jenness, Dottie Merrill, Sylvia Sawin, Leslie Bedford, Leslie Swartz, Sonnet Takahisa, Kyra Montagu, Sue Jackson, and me while working on starting the Metropolitan Cultural Alliance, the Cultural Education Collaborative, and the move downtown in the '70s.

Designers and Producers

Inventive and skillful, they had style. They made things that actually worked and made the museum look terrific. They loved to work on problems, even taking on challenges where none might not have actually existed. Examples of these creative inventors were Michael Sand, Eric von Schmidt, Duncan Smith, Bob Horn, Sing Hanson, Lennie Gottlieb, Andy Merriell, John Spalvins, Bill Mayhew, Tom Goldsmith, John Sloan, Chuck Redmon, John Stebbins, Paul Dietrich, and Andy Bartholomew.

Strategists and Organizers

Division, department, and project managers and collaborators led the work of their teams in the planning and management of their programs, projects, and budgets. They were tough but fair. They were smart and analytical, and they loathed going over budget. Among the great team leaders were Phyl O'Connell, Fred Kresse, Cynthia Cole, Betty Nicol, Dorothy Clarke, Pat Steuert, Jim Zien, Elaine Heumann Gurian, Anne Butterfield, Janet Kamien, Eleanor Chin, Suzanne LeBlanc, Susan Porter, Natalie Faldasz, Jonathan Hyde, Judy Flam, Tom Sisson, Bob Lloyd, Susan Jackson, Jeptha Wade, David Burnham, Kyra Montagu, Yori Oda, John Bok, Sue Pucker, Elvira Growdon, Drew Hyde, Andy Fallender, Polly Price, Duncan Smith, Bob Corcoran, Dave Berlew, Dan Prigmore, George Hein, and finally me trying to figure out how to lead the museum in the '80s.

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