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Our Staff

Directory

Executive Office & Strategic Initiatives

Staff is available for consultation and speaking engagements on a select basis.

Laura Lott
President and CEO

A results-oriented, entrepreneurial, strategic leader with a track record of leading transformative change in nonprofit organizations, Laura served as the Alliance’s chief operating officer for five years before becoming the chief executive officer in 2015. Laura led the 2012 re-launch of the Alliance, including rebranding the organization and redesigning its membership and excellence programs – leading to a 70% growth in membership and the organization’s first five profitable years in a decade. More recently, Laura led the development of the Alliance’s current strategic plan which emphasizes topics that Alliance members strongly believe are vital to the future viability, relevance and sustainability of museums: diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion in all aspects of museums’ programs and structure; changing business models for financial sustainability; and museums’ growing role in the P-12 education ecosystem. Laura is also a passionate advocate for strong and engaged boards, speaking to numerous museum boards each year.

Prior to joining AAM, Laura served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer of The JASON Project, an international nonprofit education program at the National Geographic Society with a mission to inspire and motivate students to learn science through great explorers. In the late 90s, Laura helped launch the MarcoPolo: Internet Content for the Classroom program at the former MCI Foundation and managed its partnerships with 50 state departments of education, as well as MCI’s community relations programs.

After studying in Tokyo, Japan during high school and graduating from American University in Washington, D.C., Laura gained public accounting experience at PricewaterhouseCoopers, with a focus on nonprofit clients. Laura is a Virginia-licensed CPA and a private pilot. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and daughter.

Headshot of Brooke Leonard. Brooke Leonard
Chief of Staff

As chief of staff, Brooke facilitates the execution of the American Alliance of Museums’ strategic priorities, ensures organizational alignment around the strategic plan, and oversees board relations and key partnerships. She joined AAM in 2010 to manage a U.S. Department of State cultural exchange program before serving as director of foundation and corporate relations, where she executed AAM’s fundraising strategy and funder relations. Previously, Brooke worked in Washington, DC, and Moscow, Russia, for an international education nonprofit and later as the assistant director of a DC-based foreign policy institute. Brooke is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Megan Lantz
Director of Social Impact

Megan is responsible for leading the Alliance’s social impact initiative, which explores and advocates for museums’ power to change the world and their essential roles in sustaining resilient communities by enriching education systems, bolstering economies, improving peoples’ wellbeing, and beyond. Since joining the Alliance in 2015, she also has directed key global, community engagement, and education-related initiatives. Her professional experience pre-AAM spanned the federal government and non-profit sectors and has included (and at times blended) projects related to international development, public diplomacy, arts education, youth leadership, and story-telling through public radio and video. She is an avid traveler and enjoys playing in a quartet in her spare time. Megan holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a B.A. in international relations from the University of Virginia.

Grace Stewart
Assistant Director, Equity and Culture

Grace is responsible for leading the Alliance’s diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusion, and anti-racism initiatives. She is also an Adjunct Instructor at Heinz College | Carnegie Mellon University. She has previously held positions as the Director of Collections & Exhibitions at the Metal Museum, Strategic Development Director for Tone, Registrar for the National Civil Rights Museum, and Exhibitions & Programming Associate at the August Wilson Center. She has served in leadership roles on numerous professional committees and currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee for the Metal Museum Board of Directors. Grace is a 2021 participant in the McKinsey Black Leadership Academy Management Accelerator and a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. She holds an MA in Arts Management from Heinz College | Carnegie Mellon University and a BFA in Ceramics from NYSCC | Alfred University. In her free time, Grace enjoys reading, creating art, baking, and spending time with her family.

Kaitlyn Murphy
Executive Assistant

Audience Development & Engagement

For the blog, magazine, and publications contact content[at]aam-us.org. For communications and marketing, contact communications[at]aam-us.org

Natanya Khashan
Senior Director, Audience Development & Engagement

Natanya Khashan is the Senior Director of Audience Development & Engagement at AAM. In her role, she oversees AAM’s audience strategy and initiatives, including external communications and content publications, and serves as AAM’s press contact. Before joining AAM in 2019, Natanya led marketing and communications for a global diversity and inclusion consulting firm after having served in various roles in the arts and culture sector including as a museum educator for teen programs in Boston. Natanya holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MA in arts management from American University with a focus on the intersection of technology and the arts and DEAI in the museum field.

A man stands smiling at the camera wearing glasses and a striped shirt.Dean Phelus
Senior Director, Leadership Programs & Special Events

Dean has oversight for editorial content for Museum magazine, book publishing, leadership programs and the Conference of the Americas. He has been at the Alliance for over two decades where he previously provided supervision for the meetings and professional development department and international programs. He enjoys travel, documentary films, and great stories.

Cecelia Walls
Assistant Director, Content

Cecelia oversees digital content strategy on the Alliance blogs and website. She started her career as a registrar in museums and came to the Alliance as an accreditation coordinator in 2008. Cecelia holds an M.A. in museum studies from the University of Leicester and a B.A. in historic preservation from Mary Washington University. Her favorite animal is a Giant Panda and she enjoys a good ghost story.

Joseph O’Neill
Content Manager and Editor II

Joseph is responsible for editing and publishing online content. He has a professional background in communications and digital publishing, both in and out of the museum field, and an academic background in art history and communication studies.

Rachel Lee
Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications

Rachel joined AAM’s Marketing & Communications team in 2019, bringing with her a range of experience in publication production, business marketing, project coordination, and work for small museums in the Washington, D.C. area. She maintains a deepening interest in public history and digital humanities. She lives in Alexandria and, outside of work hours, is frequenting local bookstores, libraries, or searching for her next new mini-weekend excursion. She holds a master’s degree in Global, International and Comparative History from Georgetown University and a B.A. in History from George Washington University, and has completed training in marketing and digital media.

Center for the Future of Museums

Elizabeth Merritt
Vice President, Strategic Foresight & Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums

Elizabeth is AAM’s vice president for strategic foresight, and founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums—a think-tank and research & development lab for the museum field. She is the author of the Alliance’s annual TrendsWatch report, and writes and speaks prolifically on the trends shaping the future of nonprofit organizations. (M.A. Duke University, B.S. Yale University, Museum Management Institute).

Development

Contact the Development Team at development [at] aam-us.org

Female with light hair smilingJennifer Calvert Hall
Senior Director of Development

Jennifer leads the development team to realize strategic initiatives for AAM and foster a culture of philanthropy among all stakeholders. Previously, she served as executive director for the Fund for Education Abroad, major gifts officer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and associate director of individual giving for Ford’s Theatre. Jennifer holds a BA from F.I.T., SUNY and MA in curatorial studies from the New School, Parsons School of Design. A certified fundraising professional (CFRE), Jennifer serves on the board of the Center for Craft in Asheville, NC.

Eileen Goldspiel
Director, Advancement

Eileen cultivates and stewards individual donors and foundations and develops strategic corporate sponsorships that support activities and strategic initiatives that benefit the museum field. Eileen started her career on Capitol Hill, worked at the Kennedy Center and came to the Alliance in 2001. Her favorite activity outside of work is reading books.

Michelle Lacey
Development Coordinator

Michelle reads every didactic panel when visiting museum exhibitions and gives equal attention to AAM donors in her role as Development Coordinator. Previously, she served as Registration Coordinator for D. Stafford and Associates and the National Association of Clery Compliance Officers & Professionals (NACCOP), responsible for all national and private-institution class management, monitoring registration levels of 90+ national events, and database administration. Michelle holds a B.A. from Syracuse University in marketing. She enjoys cooking, traveling and enthusiastically cheering on her three sons at their various sporting events.

Excellence Programs

To contact the Excellence Team for inquiries regarding:

  • Accreditation, contact: accreditation [at] aam-us.org
  • Museum Assessment Program (MAP), contact: map [at] aam-us.org
  • Core Documents Verification, contact: core [at] aam-us.org

A woman standing outside with trees in the background smiles at the camera with short red hair wearing a patterned white and black collared shirt.Julie Hart
Senior Director of Standards & Excellence

Julie provides leadership and oversight of AAM’s Continuum of Excellence including the Accreditation and Museum Assessment Programs, and other standards and ethics initiatives of the Alliance. She has been involved with accreditation and efforts to nurture institutional excellence throughout her 20 + year tenure at AAM, providing her with insight into the practices, issues, and challenges faced by museums and non-profits of many types and sizes.

A woman smiles at the camera in front of a grey backdrop wearing her hair up, dangly earrings, a red jacket and black shirt.Danyelle Rickard
Accreditation Program Officer

Danyelle joined AAM in 2014, first as a Program Officer for the Museum Assessment Program. She also manages our volunteer team of Peer Reviewers and works with AAM’s other Excellence programs. Prior to coming to AAM Danyelle worked at Winterthur Museum, the Delaware Historical Society, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House. She has a B.A. in History from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Danyelle is also the Vice-Chair for the Registrar’s Committee for MAAM.


Headshot of a woman smiling at the camera with straight shoulder length brown hair wearing a white shirt and dark jacket. Brianne Roth
Museum Assessment Program Officer

Brianne joined AAM in 2018 as Member Services Manager, working directly with AAM’s members to ensure seamless customer service. She now works with museums and peer reviewers participating in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) and with museums participating in the Core Document Verification Program. Prior to joining AAM, Brianne worked in public programming and museum education with the Nantucket Historical Association. She has a B.A. in History from Randolph College and an M.A. in History with a concentration in Public History from American University. She enjoys sharing her passion for museums and spending time outdoors.


Image of a woman smiling at the camera in front of a grey backdrop. She has shoulder length blond hair and blue eyes, wearing a pearl necklace and a tan colored sweater. with a white shirt.Martha Sharma
Accreditation Program Officer

Ms. Sharma returned to AAM and the Accreditation Program in 2014; she previously served as an Accreditation Program Officer from 2005-2008. Before joining AAM she served as the Exhibitions Registrar at the National Building Museum. Prior to her relocation to Washington, DC, she was Assistant Registrar for Loans and Exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Registrar at the David and Alfred Smart Museum at the University of Chicago. Ms. Sharma got her start in the museum field at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has a B.A. in Art History from the University of California, Irvine.

Susan Zwerling
Museum Assessment Program Officer

Susan works with museums and peer reviewers participating in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) to help strengthen operations, plan for the future and meet professional standards; and with museums participating the Core Document Verification Program. She began her museum career in the Education department of an Art and Science Museum and has a background in healthcare and staff training and development. Susan holds an M.A. in Museum Studies from John Hopkins University. She enjoys traveling, food, fiber arts, and visiting museums everywhere.

Finance and Administration

Contact the Finance and Administration Team at accounting [at] aam-us.org

A woman smiles at the camera with shoulder length reddish brown hair wearing a white shirt and yellow sweater.Carol Constantine
Director of Finance & Administration

Carol has been with AAM for over 35 years, starting in administrative support, progressing to office management, and more recently directing Finance and Administration. Carol earned a degree in Studio Art at the University of Maryland and previously worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art as a docent before joining AAM.


Headshot of a woman with a red sweaterAmy Kampf
Senior Accountant

Amy Kampf is Senior Accountant at the American Alliance of Museums and uses her eye for detail and ability to analyze various situations and scenarios to help effectively manage AAM’s financials. Prior to joining AAM in 2019, Amy held positions in Development and Accounting at nonprofits such as the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Bay Area Discovery Museum in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a striking passion for innovative work which addresses today’s most pressing needs within a community, a nation and worldwide, and believes an organization’s operations, along with their internal and external communication, are key to what keeps society evolving and moving forward. Amy graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN and is preparing for the CPA exam.

Vanessa Garcilazo
Staff Accountant

Vanessa Garcilazo is Staff Accountant at the American Alliance of Museums and is responsible for the daily AR and AP duties, as well as month-end close. She works closely with all departments at AAM and enjoys being the foundational support that her team needs. While AAM is the first non-profit organization Vanessa has worked for, she has 7+ years of experience in her field and is currently working towards her B.S in Accounting at George Mason University. Vanessa strives to keep learning and developing her skills in accounting.

Government Relations and Advocacy

Contact the Government Relations and Advocacy Team at governmentrelations [at] aam-us.org

A woman smiles at the camera with short curly dark hair, wearing glasses a dark top and a red necklace.Ember Farber
Director, Advocacy

Ember has been an @AAMer for several years and is perpetually impressed by the work of museums. As Director, Advocacy, she communicates with museum advocates and works closely with AAM partner organizations on field-wide advocacy. Ember is a University of Virginia graduate and holds a Master’s in Political Management from the George Washington University. In her free time, you’ll find her binge-watching The West Wing or Grey’s Anatomy reruns with a good cup of coffee, tea or wine in hand.

Barry Szczesny
Director, Government Relations and Public Policy

Barry Szczesny is director of government relations and public policy where he develops, implements, executes and evaluates the Alliance’s current and long-range public policy goals and legislative objectives. Barry has more than 20 years of federal government relations and advocacy experience representing non-profit organizations, including museums, most recently as principal of Potomac Federal Consulting. As an attorney, he served as outside general counsel to The Art Institute of Chicago. Barry is a return AAMer: from 1996 to 2001, he was AAM’s government affairs counsel and assistant director of the Government and Public Affairs Department and looks forward to once again helping advance its mission to champion museums. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and four-year-old son.

Human Resources

Katherine McNamee
Director, Human Resources

Katherine has enjoyed managing “all things HR” at the Alliance since Halloween of 2005.  Prior to starting her association/museum career, she worked for a credit union in a variety of roles including opening new accounts, approving consumer loans and leading the recruitment process and orientation of new employees.  Outside of the office, you’ll likely find her biking along the Mt. Vernon trail.

Information Technology and Media

A man smiles at the camera with short blond/brown hair wearing a suit with a white shirt.Joshua Morin
Director, IT and Application Services

Josh has over ten years of experience in non-profit IT operations. As the Director of IT and Application Services, he oversees all technology platforms and services. He has a keen interest in analytics and data projects and is an avid Tableau user. Outside of work he enjoys scuba diving and traveling. If you want talk technology or Ctenophora drop him a line!


Anthony Hovington headshot
Anthony Hovington
IT and Digital Media Specialist

Anthony is the IT and Digital Media Specialist at AAM. He has over 25 years of experience as an IT professional. Anthony assists the Director of IT and is responsible for the day to day IT and A/V support at the office. In addition, he is the technical lead for the Content Team and for digital media projects. Anthony is a graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in Afro-American Studies with a Concentration in Computer Science. Originally from Delaware, he is known outside of the office as “The Hip Hop Historian” and you may bump into him at events related to Hip Hop Culture in the DC Area.

Carlos Arroyo
Senior Web Developer

Meetings and Events

Contact the Meetings and Events Team at meetings [at] aam-us.org

Tiffany Gilbert, DES
Assistant Director of Meetings & Events

Tiffany Gilbert, DES, Assistant Director of Meetings & Events, is responsible for managing the session proposal and review process, the Content Advisory Committee, program schedule, and presenter management and training for the AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.  Tiffany joined the Alliance in 2018.

Tieyara Jones
Manager, Meetings & Events

Tieyara Jones, Manager, Meetings & Events focuses on the many logistics for AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo, Museums Advocacy Day, and future virtual events. Tieyara previously worked as a Sr. Program Coordinator at the National Medical Fellowships, where she managed various stakeholders for event logistics, recruitment strategies, and created digital content.

Membership and Revenue Programs

Contact the Membership Team at membership [at] aam-us.org

Bearded male in blue polo shirt with trees in the backgroundRyan Bourke
Senior Director, Membership & Revenue Programs

As Senior Director, Membership & Revenue Programs, Ryan leads the Alliance’s earned revenue programs, including institutional and individual memberships, exhibit booth sales, corporate sponsorships, advertising sales, and other products/services. Prior to joining AAM in 2020, Ryan directed membership growth, benefits communication and experience strategies for AARP, after supporting membership and marketing programs earlier in his career. Ryan earned his MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and his B.A. in Government from the University of Virginia. Outside of work, when he isn’t attending to his adorable daughters or dogs (2 of each!), you might find him on his road bike or at a local venue enjoying live music.

Shelon Atwater, CEM
Director, Exhibits & Revenue Programs

Shelon Atwater, director, exhibits & revenue programs is responsible for the planning, management and execution of the exhibit hall at the AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.  She also assists with the management of non-dues revenue generating operations.  Shelon started off in member services at the Alliance in 1992.

Shelagh Grimshaw, CFRE
Director of Corporate Partnerships

Shelagh came to the Alliance in 2017 and oversees corporate sponsorships and advertising, advancing the impact of the museum sector. Her previous roles include director of development at AAM, director of annual giving at an independent school, and vice president of a direct response marketing and fundraising agency specializing in museums and performing arts. Shelagh holds a BA in Ancient Mediterranean Studies from the University of Bristol and a MSc in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia.


Kristin Herlihy
Senior Manager, Membership

Kristin is the Senior Manager, Membership and works to ensure members can access their benefits and decide which membership is right for them. Coming to AAM from the museum field, Kristin loves hearing from members about projects they’re working on and connecting them with helpful resources. Prior to joining AAM’s staff, Kristin earned her M.A. in Public History and can often be found at local museums talking to friends and family about how much fun history can be. When not out and about, Kristin spends her time reading and learning new skills, right now it’s baking and crocheting, but she is always open to suggestions.

Kyle Johnson
Membership Coordinator

Kyle is a Membership Coordinator, fielding membership inquiries about AAM membership benefits, services, and programs. Kyle earned his B.A. degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. On the weekends, you can find him browsing the antique stores.

Ren Dryzer
Membership Coordinator

Ren is a Membership Coordinator, providing members with information about AAM products, services, and programs and assisting with many aspects of membership operations. Ren holds a B.A. in Arts Management from the College of Charleston. Outside of the office, you can usually spot Ren at any farmers market or local arts festivals.

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