Museum Team

Gillian Thomas, President & CEO

Gillian Thomas has been with the Miami Science Museum since early 2003 as President and CEO. During her tenure with the Museum, the Miami-Dade County Building Better Communities General Obligation Bonds were approved by voters, awarding $175 million towards the construction of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in downtown’s Museum Park. Under Gillian’s leadership, ground was broken on the new project in 2012 and more than $70 million has been raised in pledges to support it. The new Museum is slated to open in 2015.

Before working at the Miami Science Museum, Gillian was the CEO of @Bristol, where she led the team in developing the award-winning $150 million waterfront Millennium project in the UK, which opened in 2000. With a science center, an environmental center, planetarium, IMAX, art installations and public space, this project revitalized the downtown heart of Bristol and has had a substantial economic impact on the surrounding area. Gillian was awarded a “Grant of the Dignity of an Ordinary Officer of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth in January 2000 for her work on @Bristol.

Prior to @Bristol, Gillian was the Director of Eureka! The Museum for Children in Halifax, UK. She developed its educational concept and led its design, development and construction. This won the UK “Visitor Attraction of the Year” award. As Assistant Director at the National Museum of Science and Industry in London, she was responsible for new building projects and created a series of galleries.

Gillian received a Bachelors degree in Chemistry from Oxford University, followed by a Masters in Science Education from London University. She has also acted as an international consultant on science center and museum projects for trusts, foundations and governments.

Frank Steslow, Chief Operating Officer

Miami Science Museum’s Chief Operating Officer, Frank Steslow, has over 30 years of experience as a scientist and executive manager in science-based non-profit organizations. As the Museum’s COO since 2008, he oversees overall operations for the Museum in the areas of Finance, Communications, Marketing, Exhibits, Animal Husbandry, Environmental Conservation, Public Programming and Visitor Services. Before joining the Museum, he was CEO of the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he led the institutions’ expansion and successful opening of a new science center.

Frank has spent the majority of his career directing the aquatic science, education, exhibition development and operations of public aquaria. He has held executive leadership positions at the Florida Aquarium and New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences including 5 years as the Academy’s COO running the day to day operations of the New Jersey State Aquarium and several satellite facilities. His previous positions have included directing water quality, pathology and animal health laboratories, animal husbandry operations, aquatic life support systems, aquatic research/conservation efforts, educational programming and exhibition development. He has been involved in the construction and startup of several new aquarium facilities and major exhibition expansions.

Frank’s research interests have included investigations into the transport and animal husbandry management of many pelagic fish species and in applied water quality management of closed seawater systems. Frank has developed several artificial seawater formulas including two that have been commercially produced and early in his career, led the aquarium industry understanding of the control and use of ozone in marine life support systems. He was responsible for leading the efforts of the successful transport and long term animal husbandry of the first blue shark in a US aquarium.

Before his career in public aquaria Frank worked as an Environmental Consultant in Pennsylvania, as an Environmental Scientist for the State of Florida and as a Biological Scientist for The National Marine Fisheries Service in the Bering Sea. Frank received a M.S. degree in Environmental Health and Science from the University of South Florida where he researched uses of ozone and U.V. light to remove pathogenic bacteria and toxins from shellfish. He also holds a B.S. degree in Microbiology from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Eldredge “Biff” Bermingham, Chief Science Officer

Dr. Eldredge “Biff” Bermingham, former Director and Senior Scientist for the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute, will oversee all science content and scientific research and ensure the accuracy of science throughout every aspect of the Museum’s planning and development of exhibits, programs, and publications.

Dr. Bermingham comes to Miami following more than two decades with the Smithsonian Institution, where he served in several scientific research and executive roles. He most recently led the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, which is one of the world’s leading centers for investigating biological diversity. There, he oversaw a budget valued at $35 million annually and supervised a resident staff of 400 people, along with 1,400 visiting scientists.

Dr. Bermingham’s career includes a number of research and academic posts at some of the world’s top universities and institutes. He has held a professorship at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and has also served as an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University. He has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed publications around the world and edited the book, “Tropical Rainforests: Past, Present and Future.” He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a PhD in genetics from the University of Georgia.

Roxanne Ortiz, Chief Financial Officer

Roxanne Ortiz is responsible for financial oversight of the current Museum’s operations and the new Museum project. She has over 15 years of experience in non-profit accounting and auditing. Roxanne also oversees the Museum’s Human Resources function. Before joining the Museum, she worked as CFO of Easter Seals South Florida and as CFO and Chief of Staff at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Roxanne also worked as an audit manager in the non-profit group at Goldstein Schechter Koch, CPAs where she began her career.

Roxanne is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida and has a Bachelor and Master of Accounting from Florida International University.

Dr. Judy Brown, Senior Vice President, Education

Dr. Judy Brown, Senior Vice President of Education for the Miami Science Museum, serves as the Executive Director of the Museum’s Center for Interactive Learning, a joint venture with the University of Miami to strengthen the connection between informal science education and the research community.

Dr. Brown has played a leadership role nationally in broadening participation of underserved groups in STEM and has received many prestigious awards.  She is a recipient of the 2005 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, our nation’s highest honor for mentoring, and the 2005 Eleanor Roosevelt Award from AAUW.

Currently, Judy is the lead PI for the Institute of Education Science- funded Early Childhood Hands-on Science Efficacy Study, a randomized controlled trial to determine the effectiveness in advancing school readiness with 90 Head Start Centers in Miami-Dade County.

Sean Duran, Vice President of Exhibitions

Duran has over 20 years of experience as an exhibition developer, designer and art director. He administers the planning and implementation of the Museum’s exhibit and all exhibit development, production, and evaluation. Sean also oversees the Facilities and Collections sections. Sean is also an integral part of the new Museum team.

Under his leadership, the Miami Science Museum received from the National Science Foundation its most significant project grant to date. Titled Amazon Voyage: Vicious Fishes and Other Riches, Sean produced a 2.3 million dollar effort toward a national touring exhibition that explored the biodiversity of the Amazon River system. The exhibit has traveled the country and recently had its European debut in London. Mr. Duran has also pioneered efforts promoting bilingual communication as a standard practice in all museum exhibitions, often consulting with other museums in the nation, interested in effectively serving spanish-speaking audiences.

Prior to joining Miami in 1999, Sean held a progressive series of positions at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia ultimately leading development teams that interpreted the research of the Academy’s Biodiversity Group. These projects included the development of significant permanent installations such as Discovering Dinosaurs: The Dig, 1998, and Butterflies, 1996; both were replicated by museums nationwide. In 1995 Duran collaborated with veteran Warner Brothers cartoon director and artist Chuck Jones to create an art and science exhibition titled Crazy Critters: The Animated Animals of Chuck Jones. In 2011, Sean was selected as a Noyce Leadership Fellow for the Noyce Foundation.

Jennifer Santer, Vice President, Content Development & Programs

Jennifer Santer is responsible for developing content and approaches consistent with the Museum’s mission, vision and values, and for overseeing content delivery through Public Programs. In this capacity, she works with other key staff to develop and test new content and delivery approaches, using the current facility as a platform for experimentation for the new Museum.

Before joining the new Museum team, Jennifer spent eight years securing funding and managing the Museum’s award-winning federally funded education programs.

Prior to joining the Miami Science Museum in 1999, Jennifer worked for ten years as an international development specialist for Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a consulting firm based in Washington D.C. At DAI, she was responsible for designing and managing multi-year economic assistance projects throughout Africa, Asia, and the former Soviet Union, with an emphasis on micro-enterprise, small business development, gender issues, and information dissemination. Jennifer holds a Master’s Degree in Geography/International Development from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Resource Management from San Diego State University. In 2013, Jennifer was selected to be a Noyce Leadership Fellow for the Noyce Foundation.

Brooks Weisblat, Vice President of Technology

Brooks Weisblat has been with the Miami Science Museum for over 15 years and currently manages the Museum’s technology infrastructure, website development projects and leads technology research and planning to keep the Museum’s technology current, efficient and within budget.

Prior to working for the Museum, Brooks worked for The Florida State University and Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University teaching Biology and Computer classes as well as managing computer labs and audio/visual installations.

In the local community Brooks is a Leadership Miami Graduate, has assisted Kristi House and Junior League of Miami with their website and technology needs as well as served on the Technology Advisory Board for Keiser College.

Brooks has Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from The Florida State University in Tallassee, FL and also did Post graduate studies in Viral Immunology at University of Miami in Miami, Florida.

Jennifer Gibbs, Senior Vice President of Development

Jennifer Gibbs joined the Miami Science Museum as Senior Vice President of Development in 2012. Jennifer will lead the Capital Campaign project to build the $275 million Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, which broke ground in Downtown Miami in 2012. She will build on the momentum ensured by major gifts from Patricia and Phillip Frost, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jack Taylor Foundation and several board members that include Board Chairs, Trish and Dan Bell, Vice Chair, Joe Falk, and Paul and Swanee Dimare.

Before joining the Museum, Jennifer was vice president of development for WPBT2 public television station. In this position Jennifer directed major gift fundraising, on-air fundraising, corporate underwriting and membership services, generating more than $5 million in annual donations. Prior to that, she was vice president of development for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, the fourth largest Make-A-Wish chapter in the world, granting more than 500 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions annually. Jennifer was also the Associate Director of Advancement and Public Relations at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

G. Trevor Powers, Vice President of Engineering & Facilities

Trevor is a recent addition to the new museum team.  He is responsible for developing the facility operational program and will manage the program following construction of the new museum.  This program includes the operation & maintenance of the building’s architectural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems as well as specialty systems such as the life support systems for the aquarium tanks.  Trevor will also oversee the start-up and commissioning of the building systems prior to completion of building construction.

Trevor’s engineering career began in the U.S. Navy where he served as a submarine nuclear power plant operator and quality assurance inspector.  Trevor was responsible for operating and maintaining all mechanical systems related to the submarine’s nuclear plant including reactor safety systems, reactor coolant systems, steam turbines for power generation & propulsion, emergency power generation systems, filtration systems, etc.  In addition, Trevor was responsible for the operation & maintenance of the submarine’s auxiliary systems such as the HVAC, water distillation, bearing lubrication & seawater coolant systems.

Prior to joining the new museum team, Trevor was the Director of Technical Operations for an engineering services firm headquartered in Atlanta, GA.  Services provided by Trevor and his team included system & building commissioning, energy modeling/auditing & management, sustainability consulting, indoor air quality assessments & remediation, building forensics and facility operation & maintenance.  Clients included state and federal agencies as well as major universities and corporations located throughout the United States.

Trevor holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and a Certificate in Management Essentials from Emory University.  He is a registered Professional Engineer in Florida & Alabama.  He is also a Certified Energy Manager and LEED Accredited Professional.