Noetic Search Fills CEO Post for National Children’s Museum

Noetic Search places Crystal Bowyer CEO National Children’s Museum

September 8, 2017 – Executive search firm Noetic Search has recruited Crystal Bowyer as the president and CEO of The National Children’s Museum (NCM). Rhyan Zweifler, president of the Chicago recruitment firm, led the assignment.

In this role, Ms. Bowyer will oversee and manage all aspects of NCM’s redevelopment, design and exhibition planning as the museum prepares to reopen in Washington, D.C. “Crystal brings unparalleled experience to the National Children’s Museum, and we are delighted to welcome her as the president and CEO,” said Ross Hechinger, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees. “Her professional background is in alignment with the museum’s priorities, and we are confident she will lead us to a successful next chapter as we come home to D.C.”

Proven Leader

Ms. Bowyer, who has 15 years experience in nonprofit and government administration, was previously with the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago. At MSI, she managed individual philanthropy and membership, and contributed to board development and strategic planning for the organization’s $380 million capital campaign.

In addition to her time at MSI, Ms. Bowyer has dedicated her career to serving children. She also held roles with the Chicago Children’s Choir and the Boys & Girls Town of Missouri. She currently holds a seat on the board of directors for the Driskill Foundation, which supports educational and after-school programs designed to encourage curiosity in children and inspire future innovators.


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“I am excited to work with such a dedicated board of trustees to build a world-class children’s museum in our nation’s capital,” said Ms. Bowyer. “Joining the team during this phase will allow me to jump in at the ground level and play a large role in development. Washington, D.C. deserves an incredible children’s museum, and I want to provide every child with innovative, exciting exhibits that spark imagination and inspire them to change the world.”

Founded as the Capital Children’s Museum in 1974, the museum served children and families for thirty years in Northeast Washington, D.C. In 2003, it was renamed when Congress designated it the National Children’s Museum.

Veteran Recruiter

Throughout her 30-year career, Ms. Zweifler has focused on the non-profit sector through her work in executive recruitment, museum management and development. She launched Noetic Search in 2010. Specializing in CEO and senior management searches, she has placed more than 170 national leaders for cultural, human service, educational and grant making organizations. Ms. Zweifler has overseen all aspects of the search process, including marketing and sales, client management, candidate development and closing.

Ms. Zweifler recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the search and recruiting senior executives for the non-profit sector.

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Rhyan ZweiflerRhyan, what made Crystal the right fit?

The National Children’s Museum is in the process of rebuilding and the board was seeking a candidate to oversee and manage all aspects of NCM’s redevelopment, design and exhibition planning as the museum prepares to reopen in Washington, D.C. Crystal’s was the perfect fit, having devoted her career to serving children. She came to NCM from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Her 15 years of experience in non-profit and government administration coupled with her dynamic, can-do personality, passion for the mission of the museum and enthusiasm to create a world-class institution made her the ideal leader for the museum at this point in its history.

Can you share some similar search work that you have completed or are currently involved in? 

Our client list is very diverse. We work with organizations across the spectrum of the non-profit community: advocacy/ civic, cultural, human services, education and policy. Current projects include work with the Academy of Urban School Leadership, a school management organization working with the Chicago Public Schools. We have worked in the past with the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center as well as the Museum of Science and Industry.

Can you discuss the current non-profit talent supply and demand curve?  

Finding the perfect candidate for each unique search is always a challenge which is why our clients retain us. With that said, we are able to put together a highly qualified pool of candidates (typically eight to 12 resumes) for our clients to review.

“While the demand for talent is very high, the supply is growing with individuals who are moving from the public and private sectors to the non-profit sector in greater numbers.”

We have always tapped into all sectors for our searches but with the shifting economic climate, there is greater openness to exploring a role in the non-profit arena.

There seems to be an overwhelming amount of searches taking place right now for non-profits, why do you think this has occurred?  

I think that there are a couple of reasons for the high volume of searches right now. One is the aging Baby Boomer who is now retiring. This transfer of leadership has been anticipated but was somewhat delayed due to the financial crisis which decreased retirement funds for many. The other is the shifting needs of the non-profit community. There is a greater understanding and emphasis on the need for candidates to bring business acumen and experience as well as the ability to be a lead fundraiser. Many of the traditional sources of revenue, particularly for human service organizations, are no longer available as local, state and federal government funders are less able to provide the support that they have in the past. Similarly in the private sector, corporate giving remains strong but the rules of the road have shifted somewhat. In summary, the demands of the job and skill sets required for leaders of non-profit organizations today have changed dramatically from even just a decade ago.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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