Discovery museum

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert at Rancho Mirage has a new CEO

Cindy Burreson will transition from acting director to full-time CEO of the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert at Rancho Mirage starting Monday.

The museum has been closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some online programs were offered at the start of the pandemic, but on Nov. 30 the board announced the facility would remain closed indefinitely and its 23 staff would be laid off due to a shortfall from reduced admissions. , memberships and day camps for children.

Burreson was named part-time interim executive director in January to lead the “Save Our Museum” fundraising campaign to generate revenue aimed at reopening the museum.

The museum’s board of trustees announced Burreson’s appointment on Thursday as the 30-year-old nonprofit begins a complete overhaul of exhibits and programming, in preparation for a safe reopening in 2022.

“Cindy started working in the interim part-time position and was doing a fantastic job laying the groundwork for the museum’s new strategic plan and fundraising efforts,” said board co-chair Davis Meyer.

“The primary focus at this time is to raise funds to revitalize the museum and with her leadership demonstrated thus far, the Board was confident that Cindy was the best person to achieve the strategic and fundraising goals. of the museum,” Meyer said.

Burreson’s salary will be $85,000, she said.

“The museum is a community treasure in our valley,” Burreson said, adding that she was thrilled with the opportunity.

“We have a huge journey ahead of us that involves not only operating, but also nurturing collaborations with local and regional partners and building community relationships so that we can reopen with a reimagined vision that will be sustainable for years to come. “, said Burreson.

The council’s vision will require a major fundraising initiative, she said, adding that the museum looks to the community, civic and corporate partners as well as families and invested individuals to help achieve these goals.

“We need the support of our community now more than ever,” Burreson said.

There are no plans to bring in additional staff at this point, Meyer said.

“But as fundraising progresses and new exhibits begin to take shape at the museum, we anticipate those roles will begin to return,” she said.

Meyer did not specify the amount of the target to be raised in order to be able to reopen.

“We are finalizing a plan with our exhibitor partners now and will have those numbers and plans to share in the coming weeks,” she said.

The Children’s Discovery Museum at 71-701 Gerald Ford Drive has been operating in the desert for 30 years – 20 years at its current Rancho Mirage 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, when it closed during the last quarter due to the pandemic.

Indoor museums have remained closed since March 2020, when Governor Gavin Newsom issued the first stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Burreson is a 15-year Coachella Valley resident, who has worked in hospitality and community leadership roles. She brings a wide variety of experiences to the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert through leadership positions in the corporate sector for organizations such as Tommy Bahama and Marriot International.

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

Professionally, Burreson was recognized as “Businessperson of the Year” by the Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce and received the “Excellence in Hospitality and Service Award” from the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

She is an alumnus of Leadership Coachella Valley and has completed Marriott Global University’s Sales and Service Training Program.

Burreson’s many volunteer leadership roles in the nonprofit arena have included serving as a member of the board of directors of the Coachella Valley and Palm Desert Chambers of Commerce and vice president of the Palm Chapter. Springs from the National Association of Catering Executives.

She also recently served as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Discovery Museum.

For the past year, Burreson has devoted her time as a reader to United Way of the Desert’s “Friday Night Bedtime Story” program.

Board co-chair Katie Stice said she’s excited about the museum’s future.

“It feels like a rebirth,” Stice said. “It’s the right thing to do for our community.”

Potential Desert Discovery Museum for Children donors, partners, corporate sponsors and volunteers can contact Burreson by email at [email protected]

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