Discovery museum

Children’s Discovery Museum at Rancho Mirage appoints interim director

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert has hired a local businesswoman, Cindy Burreson, to serve as interim executive director and lead a fundraising campaign for the museum.

Burreson will work part-time for the Rancho Mirage-based museum for 20 hours a week or less, said Katie Stice, co-chair of the museum’s board and CEO of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce.

It’s an administrative position, Stice said.

Closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum’s board announced on November 30 that the facility would remain closed indefinitely and its 23 employees would be laid off, due to the lack of revenue caused by reducing admissions, memberships and camps.

At that time, the council launched a “Save Our Museum” fundraising campaign to generate revenue so that the museum could be reopened when permitted by the state.

“The council knew we would need someone to lead the Save Our Museum campaign,” Stice told the Desert Sun on Tuesday. “We needed someone to be the glue and who has strong administrative experience to help the effort.”

Burreson will also oversee routine maintenance of the museum while it remains closed, Stice said.

A fundraising campaign was launched in November to raise money to reopen the nonprofit museum, which features interactive exhibits for children of all ages, when state and county health officials le say safe.

Burreson, a resident of the Coachella Valley for 15 years, brings a diverse background to the museum, ranging from executive positions in the corporate sector to companies such as Tommy Bahama and Marriott International. She will continue to work as Senior Director of Catering Sales for the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells.

She lives in Palm Desert with her husband, Derek, and two children, Dyson, 10, and Dylan, 8.

“The museum has a rich history in our valley, and I am thrilled to take on the role of interim executive director,” Burreson said in a press release announcing her appointment Monday.

“As a mom, I look to the museum for the fun and educational experiences it provides for our local families and visitors to our destination. As a businesswoman, I see our cherished museum as a strength and a community benefit, which must be preserved and reimagined for today’s world,” said Burreson.

She has been recognized as Businessperson of the Year by the Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce and the Excellence in Hospitality and Service Award from the Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

She is a board member of the Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce and Vice President of the Palm Springs Chapter of NACE (National Association of Catering Executives).

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Burreson also volunteered as a reader for the Friday Night Bedtime Story for United Way of the Desert and served as secretary of the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert.

The Children’s Discovery Museum, at 71-701 Gerald Ford Drive, has been in the desert for 30 years – 20 years at its current location. Officials say it attracts around 80,000 families a year and ended the 2018-19 fiscal year with $188,000 in reserves. This amount fell to $98,000 at the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which ended the last quarter due to the pandemic.

“I am honored that the museum board has asked me to serve and lead the established organization. I look forward to renewing CDMoD community relationships and partnerships and building new ones to secure the future of CDMoD. We need the support of our community now more than ever,” Burreson said.

Prospective donors, partners, corporate sponsors and volunteers can reach Burreson by email at [email protected]

Previous reporting by Desert Sun editor Colin Atagi.

Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherryBarkas