National search for Knock Knock executive director to launch in a few weeks

    In the aftermath of Peter Olson stepping down from his position as executive director of the Knock Knock Children’s Museum last month, museum leaders are planning to launch a national search in the next two to three weeks.

    In the meantime, the Knock Knock Board of Directors is reviewing the position description, says Aza Bowlin, the board member spearheading the search. The board has hired Kittleman, the same Chicago-based firm that helped them find Olson, to begin the national search.

    “It’s not that there aren’t potentially strong candidates within our organization,” Bowlin says. “We feel that Knock Knock is such a unique organization and deserves a far range of candidates. It’s important to cast a broad net to make sure we get the best leader.”

    The children’s museum joins a host of local organizations in its search for a new leader. Others include: The Baton Rouge Metro Airport, BREC, the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District, the Baton Rouge Health District and the Louisiana Art & Science Museum.

    Bowlin says the committee wants someone who can build upon the solid foundation Olson left. Under his leadership, Knock Knock was one of Baton Rouge’s most-visited attractions in the past year and raised over $1.1 million in philanthropic dollars.

    While a specific candidate profile is still in the works, Bowlin says an ideal candidate would be one with “strong leadership skills, a passion for children’s education, strong business acumen and nonprofit fundraising experience.” The person would be tasked with overseeing a staff of 21, an executive committee and an annual operating budget of $2.5 million.

    Olson’s last day of work was Sept. 30. As of Oct. 1, Genny Nadler Thomas, the museum’s former director of finance and administration, is serving as acting executive director—a transition Bowlin says has been smooth thus far.

    “We feel confident with Genny in charge, and we’ll let the process play out,” Bowlin says. “I’ll let Kittleman decide, but I expect it’ll be three to six months, at least, before we have someone else in.”

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