ThinkingAhead Executive Search Seeks New Leader for Creative Discovery Museum

April 25, 2023 – Creative Discovery Museum (CDM) in Chattanooga, TN, has selected ThinkingAhead Executive Search to lead its search for a new president and chief executive officer. Henry Schulson will retire this fall after leading the museum for 26 years. The search firm’s Kay Linder is serving the partner in charge of the assignment.

“I am so thrilled and privileged to be working with CDM on this journey of finding Henry’s successor,” said Ms. Linder. “He has built a legacy that is so significant, not only for the Chattanooga community but for all visiting families, educators, and the many users of their education programs. The selection committee is focused on finding the best leader for the next chapter of the museum.”

Mr. Schulson began his tenure in 1997, just two years after CDM opened its doors in downtown Chattanooga. He has led the museum through many changes and substantial growth. “It has been so exciting to see the growth and development of both the museum and Chattanooga over the last 26 years,” he said. “When I arrived, Creative Discovery Museum was just beginning to establish roots in the community. I am proud to see how deeply those roots have grown over the years. The museum has become a vital educational resource for schools and an institution loved and embraced by children and families throughout our community.”

Finding the Right Person

CDM is committed to continuing Mr. Schulson’s legacy as the search for his successor begins, said the museum.  A selection committee made up of current and former CDM board members is tasked with the important challenge of finding the right person to lead CDM, and they will partner with ThinkingAhead Executive Search to lead the recruiting. ThinkingAhead has established itself as a leading boutique, non-profit executive search firm.

“We have engaged with CDM’s staff and many stakeholders to help guide our search, and we are now focused on identifying exceptional candidates for this role,” said Patrick Stowe, chair of the search committee and former CDM board chair. “We are thankful to Henry for his dedication to CDM and the high standard he has set.”

The Creative Discovery Museum is one of Chattanooga’s most dynamic and innovative cultural resources, earning accolades for innovation and quality. The idea for CDM dates back to 1989 as the board of the Hunter Museum of American Art evaluated the viability of developing a children’s wing. The board recommended a separate children’s museum be created as part of the revitalization of downtown. CDM was incorporated in 1992 and opened in 1995. It quickly evolved into a multi-disciplinary, educational institution, utilizing interactive programs and exhibits to explore art, music, science and technology. In 2004, CDM acquired the NewsChannel9 Science Theater in Northgate Mall which has become a key component of its science education efforts. The Science Theater relocated to the museum’s main campus in 2010. In 2005, the museum completed a major renovation which included the installation of the RiverPlay exhibit, an outdoor rooftop exhibit focusing on simple machines, and Buzz Alley exploring the world of bees.

Seven Specialty Practices

Founded in 1982, Nashville, TN-based ThinkingAhead Executive Search recruits candidates for a list of global clients ranging from emerging growth to the Fortune 500. In 2022, its team placed 388 professionals with over 250 client organizations worldwide. The firm recruits across seven specialty practices including banking and commercial finance, non-profit, sales, life sciences, legal, energy, and a cross-discipline team based in Europe. ThinkingAhead has been regarded as one of Nashville’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, designated by Manage HR Magazine.

Ms. Linder is a partner and fellow with ThinkingAhead Executive Search. She is dedicated specifically to working with mission-driven non-profit organizations nationally, placing executive leadership. Her primary focus is working with clients and professionals dedicated to the fields of environment protection/conservation/climate change, zoos and aquariums, children’s and science museums. Prior to her current and long tenure with ThinkingAhead, Ms. Linder served as a lobbyist at the Tennessee General Assembly representing the Tennessee Conservation Voters, the state chapter of the League of Conservation Voters, a coalition of the state’s environmental and conservation organizations. In addition, she worked as the development director for the state’s largest non-profit environmental coalition organization, the Tennessee Environmental Council, and also cowrote a grant funding her and a colleague creating a curriculum for middle school students focused on the plight of Neotropical Migratory Birds.

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

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