William Harris, Space Center Houston: "Space Center Houston’s Plans for the Future"
February 09, 2021
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
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"Space Center Houston’s Plans for the Future"
William T. Harris has more than 30 years in nonprofit leadership including senior positions at a renowned science center and universities, where he led multi-million-dollar capital and fundraising campaigns, principal and major gifts, marketing campaigns, communications, government relations and strategic initiatives. Harris previously was at the California Science Center Foundation as senior vice president of development and marketing. He oversaw all external affairs including capital campaigns, board relations, annual and membership programs, public funding, marketing and communications.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead this exceptional center and help develop its potential as a great science center,” said Harris, who also is president of the board of directors for the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, which owns and operates the educationally focused nonprofit. “Space Center Houston makes a difference in the lives of our guests every day as we strive to fulfill our mission to inspire visitors of all ages through the wonders of space exploration and awaken the limitless possibilities within each of us. This is especially important in Houston, which has many industries requiring a STEM-educated workforce.”
Harris was a leader on the team to bring the space shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center, including its funding, promotion, transport, communications, marketing and exhibit opening. He also directed a $165 million campaign creating a major new expansion called Ecosystems which nearly doubled the center’s exhibit space presenting an unprecedented blend of live plants and animals, and hands-on science exhibits in 11 immersive environments. It also established the Science Center School, a neighborhood science-based elementary school serving 650 children.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth at Space Center Houston and in our foundation in the last several years and William’s leadership will bring us to new heights,” said Fred Griffin, chairman of the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation board of directors, which conducted a national search for the CEO. “William brings a tremendous experience at the national level, great vision and a commitment to excellence and public service.”
Harris is a member of the board of directors for the American Alliance of Museums and co-chairs the Development Committee for the Association of Science-Technology Centers. He holds a bachelor of science in psychology from Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Harris earned certificates in development from The Fundraising Institute at Boston University School of Communications and in community health and the delivery of health services at Tufts.
Other prior leadership roles include the University of California, Los Angeles; the RAND/UCLA Center for Soviet Studies; the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts in Boston; and the Boston University School of Medicine. He served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and is fluent in Spanish.
Harris replaces Richard E. Allen Jr., who is only the second CEO in the nonprofit’s 24 years. During his tenure, the center garnered international media coverage and was called “The Big Draw” in Houston by USA Today. In the last two years, the center debuted a new membership program, obtained Smithsonian Affiliation, held its first gala and set a new annual attendance record in 2015. In January, the nonprofit opened the one-of-a-kind international landmark Independence Plaza, a complex featuring the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905 and shuttle replica Independence. Under Allen’s leadership, the center transformed operations and strengthened the financial long-term growth of the nonprofit organization.
The registration fee from this event will be donated to the IFMA Houston Scholarship fund, as we continue to try to raise money to benefit those students currently in financial need.
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1 Attendee to Monthly Luncheons
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