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Explore & More Children's Museum names CEO


Wed, Jan 17th 2018 05:10 pm
Michelle Urbanczyk to assume new role in February
On Wednesday, Explore & More Children's Museum announced Michelle Urbanczyk was hired as CEO, effective in February.
"The board of trustees could not be more pleased with the appointment of Michelle Urbanczyk to the chief executive officer position of Explore & More Children's Museum," said Barry Swartz, president of the board of directors of Explore & More. "Michelle joins us at critical time in our transition to Canalside. She has the experience and skillset that will help to ensure we meet the many challenges ahead and provide our community with a vibrant new attraction that will have a lasting, positive impact on our community's children and their families."
"I am both thrilled and humbled by this great opportunity to work with Explore & More," Urbanczyk said. "The museum is in its third decade, yet is on the cusp of such a magnificent opportunity to broaden its scope and positively affect so many more children. I am looking forward to this great challenge and the part I can play in bringing the museum's vision into reality. When you look at the community we serve, the museum's dedicated employees, and its large and committed donor-base, you cannot help but be excited to be a part of this organization."
A resident of West Seneca, Urbanczyk is a seasoned leader and nonprofit executive with over 20 years of high-level fundraising, capital campaign, programming, strategic planning, financial oversight and project/business management experience. With strong local roots and advanced knowledge of the Western New York community, she has successfully held leadership positions with several notable organizations and cultural institutions within the Buffalo Niagara Region. Most recently, Urbanczyk served as president of EPIC - Every Person Influences Children, following a previous role as director of development with the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.
"Michelle's experience as the president of EPIC, another wonderful community resource that focuses on improving the lives of our children, as well as her work with the Buffalo Science Museum and other not-for-profit community and educational organizations, makes her the perfect candidate for Explore & More today, and well into the future," said Tina Zinter-Chahin, vice president of the board of directors of Explore & More. "Michelle is from Buffalo and is a true Western New Yorker who loves our community and has spent her entire professional career with organizations that strive to enhance the quality of life for our area's residents."
A Leadership Buffalo Class of 2011 graduate, Urbanczyk holds an MBA and bachelor's degree, having studied business management and the vocational technology of education at the State University of New York at Oswego. In addition, she completed international business coursework at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College in London, England.
Through her volunteer efforts, Urbanczyk has contributed to a number of local initiatives and organizations focused on child development and the strengthening of families. These organizations include the Care Management Coalition of Western New York, Human Service Collaborative, Birth-to-8 Coalition, Help Me Grow Western New York, West Side Promise Neighborhood, New York State Family Engagement Coalition-executive committee, Lackawanna Community Fun Days planning committee. Urbanczyk also previously served as a volunteer for Buffalo Halfway House, EOC Vocational Technical advisory board, McGowan youth advisory board and UCAWD/SUNY Grant Writer Academy.
Explore & More broke ground on a new museum at Canalside in late spring 2017, with a late-2018/early-2019 facility opening on the horizon. The museum's capital campaign, headed by campaign chair David McNamara of Phillips Lytle LLP, continues to raise funds and currently stands at close to 70 percent of its overall goal, with a large $500,000 gift from Key Bank announced just this past week.
Savarino & Co. has been selected for the museum's interior build-out and Art Guild has been awarded the contract for the construction of the related exhibits.
About Explore & More Children's Museum
More than two decades ago, Explore & More opened in a 500-square-foot room in a school basement. The idea of having high-quality play-based learning for children from all over Western New York had been cultivated in the minds of a small group of dedicated parents, educators and toy designers. The museum, with its all-volunteer staff, saw 1,000 visitors that first year. Flash forward 21 years later, and Explore & More now occupies a space 14 times that size, serving over 60,000 children and their family members each year. Several national and international studies since have continued to confirm the idea on which the museum began: that play is essential to healthy brain development in children.
Beginning in 2007, Explore & More became the first organization to offer free programming at Canalside. The early partnership with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. led to Explore & More being selected as a future anchor attraction on Buffalo's revitalized waterfront - a year-round draw for residents and tourists that will ignite children's imagination, economic development and community partnerships. Explore & More is slated to open its doors on the waterfront in late-2018/early-2019 and is currently completing a multimillion-dollar capital campaign to support the effort.

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