New President, CEO at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

New President, CEO at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Following 21 years as President and CEO of the world’s largest children’s museum, Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen has decided to retire. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Board of Trustees has been working closely with Dr. Patchen over the last two years to prepare for his retirement and has unanimously selected Executive Vice President Jennifer Pace Robinson, a 29-year Museum veteran, to succeed Dr. Patchen as President and CEO.

During Patchen’s tenure, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis expanded three times, received numerous national accolades and awards and created several new educational experiences including Dinosphere®, The Power of Children®, Fireworks of GlassBeyond Spaceship EarthNational Geographic Treasures of the Earth and the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience®.

As Patchen announced his retirement to staff Friday morning, he lauded employees and volunteers, “I wish nothing but the best for the museum and its future,” said Patchen. “We couldn’t be here without all of you—every single day, every hour of the day that you’re working here as incredible ambassadors for the museum. I appreciate your dedication and everything you have done to make the museum great and I know you will continue to do so with new leadership in the future.”

The transition process began two years ago when Patchen first considered retirement. Pace Robinson quickly became the prime candidate. She embodies the ultimate success story—beginning her career as an interpreter with a talent for telling compelling stories and now taking the reins of the world’s largest children’s museum as President and CEO.

Pace Robinson joined The Children’s Museum in 1992 and moved up through various roles as exhibit manager, educator and programmer, to curator and director of exhibits before ascending to the role of Vice President of Experience Development and Family Learning in 2006.

During the next 15 years, she oversaw all aspects of exhibit development, design, production, family and school programs, gallery interpretation and collections. Earlier this year, she was promoted to Executive Vice President as part of the Museum’s leadership succession plan to ensure a smooth transition in preparation for her to take over as President and CEO. Making the transition effective immediately facilitates her ability to lead important planning efforts for 2022.

“Jennifer’s flair for design and passion for education consistently captures the attention and admiration of museum experts worldwide,” said Julie Carmichael, chairman of the board, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “Jennifer is so well-respected on the global stage that she has been asked to serve as an international consultant to emerging museums, including those in Egypt, China, Japan and South Korea.”

“This fulfills a lifelong dream of mine to help make a positive change in the world, one child and one family at a time, by opening their eyes to the world around them,” said Pace Robinson. “The possibilities are endless when you work with a diverse and talented team across the sciences, arts and the humanities. At the museum, we can create immersive experiences and then share compelling stories of real people and real objects that will inspire children and families to understand others and ultimately make their own mark on the world. I look forward to continue working with this amazing group of highly skilled, passionate and diverse team members to plan for, implement and operate world-class experiences for all children and families. I am incredibly grateful to the board for allowing me this opportunity to continue doing the work I love.”

Pace Robinson emphasized she is committed to diligently working to elevate under-heard voices while fostering an authentic, inclusive and equitable work environment with the staff and volunteers of the museum, the surrounding neighborhood, the broader community, and partners from around the world to amplify our impact.

Civil Rights icon and longtime museum advisor Ruby Bridges is thrilled to learn about Pace Robinson’s new role: “I have worked closely with Jennifer since 2006 to develop The Power of Children exhibit and I could not be happier that she will be guiding The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as its new President and CEO. I believe history is sacred and it is crucial that we tell it to the next generations as it happened. We can learn from our history only if we know it. Jennifer’s work over the years exemplifies this commitment too. I know that under her leadership, our young people will benefit greatly from the incredible work happening at this terrific institution. I look forward to future collaborations with Jennifer and our country’s largest children’s museum,” said Bridges.

Jennifer Pace Robinson is the new President and CEO of The Children’s Museum effective May 8, 2021.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is proud to partner with Riley Children’s at Indiana University Health, Old National Bank and Ice Miller LLP.

Category People News