MAPS 2019 Officer Elections

As a member of the Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society, you have the privilege to vote for colleagues who will serve as your representatives on the MAPS Board. MAPS encourages your participation in this key activity that has a lasting impact on our organization.

MAPS members – check your inbox in January for your online voting invitation. All votes must by submitted by January 31, 2019. We thank you for your participation in this election and in MAPS overall.

Election information from MAPS By-Laws

  • Officers shall be elected on a mail-in or electronic ballot by the membership in January.
  • Terms of office shall be for two years.
  • The President-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer shall be elected in odd-numbered years, and the Board Members elected in even numbered years.
  • Officers will assume their positions at the conclusion of the annual business meeting.

Review the candidates’ bios for the positions of President-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer for MAPS 2019 Officer Elections in the table below.



Candidate Statement

Observatory Manager, Kellogg Observatory, Buffalo Museum of Science

Senior Presenter, Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium

Community Education Instructor, Williamsville Space Lab Planetarium

Buffalo, New York


Dear Friends and Fellow MAPS Members

This past year, I had an opportunity to help the Buffalo Museum of Science by becoming the Observatory Manager at the Kellogg observatory, as well as responsibility for the portable planetarium that is available to visiting patrons, in addition to working at the great institutions I have been serving at for so long now. I believe we must remain focused on delivering the awe of the stars and surroundings of our cosmic neighborhood and, both to the developing minds in the schools, and also the general public who still find wonder in space. In any casual conversation with any individual at any time or place, the subject of astronomy may present itself, and it is a great feeling knowing that in an instant, you can change a person’s outlook (young or old) on how they perceive the universe. I have been serving many years on the MAPS Web Committee, and almost as many as Chair, where I have strived to ensure that information is current and relevant to our organization, its members, and vendors. I am indebted to the quality and quantity of experiences and lessons, and always wish to do my best to repay each and every one of you for all of your wisdom and kindness.

I have been so inspired by this field, that as its president, I will work to ensure that we remain a viable resource to others in our field, keep our mission in focus. MAPS is and continues to be an invaluable resource for educators.

Thank you for your time.

Best Regards,

Tim Collins

Planetarium Supervisor, Treworgy Planetarium, Mystic Seaport Museum

Mystic, Connecticut


Greetings, fellow MAPS Members!

Brian Koehler here, from the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT. I am writing to you during the season when I am celebrating my five-year anniversary at the helm of the Treworgy Planetarium. In December of 2013, I was given the chance to dive headfirst into the planetarium field, and it has proven to be the most rewarding decision I could ever have imagined! Like many members of this remarkably diverse field, my background is not in Astronomy. Rather, I am a New York State certified Social Studies teacher for middle school and high school grades. It has always been my passion to educate and inspire, but I never imagined I would find myself in a most unique classroom with a most unexpected “light switch.” As it turns out, my professional strengths align quite nicely with my institution. The subject of celestial navigation, paramount to the mission of the maritime history museum that I call home, provides the opportunity to create interdisciplinary lessons that weave math and history into the sciences normally associated with the planetarium.

One of the first things I was encouraged to do in my new role was to find professional associations with which I could network and grow. I was referred to my regional organization – the Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society – and in the summer of 2014, I attended my first MAPS Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. I met so many wonderful people, and I felt warmly accepted into the planetarium community! I credit so much of my early success here in Mystic to the networking opportunities provided by MAPS. Being able to meet more experienced colleagues in the field and share ideas, success stories, and hurdles is invaluable to the professional development of someone who is still relatively new in the field. In recent years, I have sought to become more involved in the organization that has given so much to me. Hosting a MAPS Regional Meeting here in Mystic back in 2017 was a good start, but last year I was entrusted with an even greater responsibility…

The accomplishment of which I am the most proud during my five years thus far as a MAPS member is hosting the 2018 Conference. It was such an honor to open our doors to an amazing group of planetarians, and we spent four days connecting, sharing, and learning from each other. As all who have hosted a conference before know, it was a tremendous undertaking. But it proved to be a most rewarding venture – my team and I enjoyed every moment!

With five years under my belt (do you think Orion would appreciate that reference?), and increased involvement in MAPS over the last few years, I feel that the time is right for me to pursue a leadership role in this prestigious organization. It would be an honor to serve as President-Elect of the Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society, to give back to the colleagues who have guided me, and to foster the development of a new wave of MAPS members. Thank you for your consideration!

--- Brian

Vice President of STEM Education, Liberty Science Center

Jersey City, New Jersey


Planetarium Experience
My professional experience with planetariums began in 1987 at the Virginia Living Museum as Planetarium Lecturer. I was mentored by Jon Bell and Dave Maness, eventually moving up to full time Planetarium Educator and Assistant Director of Astronomy.

I was Director of the Alexander Brest Planetarium at the Museum of Science and History for ten years, and Director of the Duval County School System Challenger Learning Center in Jacksonville, Florida. During this time I organized and hosted the 1999 Southeastern Planetarium Association Annual Conference.

I then worked at Challenger Learning Center Headquarters in Washington, DC, under Dr. Bill Gutsch, helping to design the Next Generation CLC, incorporating hands-on interactive space science activities using real data sets and some of the first 4K animations of Jupiter, Saturn, its rings, and their moons into two new missions: Journey to Jupiter and Sojourn to Saturn.

After Challenger, I was Informal Education and Public Outreach Specialist for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). You may remember me presenting at numerous MAPS Conferences on how to incorporate Earth Science live data sets in your planetarium programs.

Late Spring of 2015, I accepted the position of Vice President of STEM Education at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, managing a staff of over 40 educators who are tasked with developing and providing the formal educational programming for K-12 both in and out of the science center. Among my tasks included leading the renovation of our IMAX Film Theater into an all-dome video, digital planetarium. With a 27M dome, the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, which opened in December 2017, is the largest planetarium in the western hemisphere.

I have been a member of MAPS, SEPA, GLPA, WAC, and/or IPS depending on where I was working/living/presenting since 1987. I have seen many trends in the planetarium field with hardware going from totally manual to fully digital, and programming going from live to pre-recorded, and various modes in between.

We live in a time when choices for a potential visitor are abundant, while the time they have to explore those choices is limited. It will continue to be a challenge to convince people they should spend their time and resources exploring planetarium programming.

We have a short but crucial window of opportunity in the next few years to hook people on planetarium astronomy, given events that are current and upcoming. In the MAPS regions, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been adopted by 8 States and DC. Earth and Space science are infused in every grade band. School districts will be scrambling for Earth and Space Science Educational programming to fulfill those standards. Teaching cyclical patterns of motion is difficult on a flat classroom smart board; easy in an immersive domed planetarium theater.

The April 8 2024 total solar eclipse passes directly over the MAPS region. Given the excitement and interest in the 2017 total solar eclipse, we can expect similar engagement in 2024. Both the total solar eclipse and the adoption of the NGSS provides a chance for MAPS planetarians to increase our brand recognition as the go-to experts in our area. I would like to see us work, in a coordinated way, on becoming the known go-to experts for earth and space science educational programming (both for students and for teacher professional development) throughout the MAPS region.

I would also like to see a focus on increasing membership in MAPS, and increased attendance at the Annual Conference. Professional Development opportunities need to be dramatically increased at the annual conference so that attendees can engage in presentations that authentically increase their educational knowledge.

I am honored to have been nominated, and I look forward to working with the Executive Committee to help make MAPS a valuable educational resource for MAPS members, schools, and the general public.



Candidate Statement

Planetarium Director, Raritan Valley Community College

Branchburg, New Jersey


Amie has been a MAPS member for more years than she can count. In fact, about ten years ago, someone described her as being an “old timer,” which she still refuses to admit. She is currently director of the Planetarium at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. She prides herself on being the only person she knows who has worked in 3 planetariums without having to move to a new home. I guess we have lots of planetariums in our area. Amie enjoys going to MAPS meetings to meet up with friends and colleagues. She is delighted to always walk away with new information and ideas that she can incorporate into her planetarium immediately. She wishes more members would take advantage of the same professional development and attend conferences. Amie enjoys being a more involved member of our esteemed organization in her current position of Secretary, and would be pleased, should you vote for her, to continue in that role.

Planetarium Education Coordinator, Cradle of Aviation Museum

Garden City, New York


I have always loved museums and knew that is where I wanted to work; this love led me to the Cradle of Aviation and the Jet Blue Sky Theater Planetarium. I have been working at the Cradle of Aviation for 5 years. Our planetarium is dedicated to creating live educator led programming. During my time here, we have created over 20 live shows, put on a musical with a local theater group, and hosted live music nights. Being a part of MAPS connected me to planetariums far and near, so near that we shared a parking lot. Attending the conferences has helped immeasurably; in not only the connections I have made but also the ideas exchanged. I was new to the world of planetariums when I co-hosted MAPS in 2015, which was initially scary but was much less so thanks to the assistance of the MAPS Board. I would love to be a member of that board to give back to a group that has been such a big part of my own professional development.



Candidate Statement

Planetarium Coordinator, Charles Hayden Planetarium

Boston, Massachusetts


Hello MAPS! Let me share a bit about myself. I was born and raised in southeast Massachusetts (where the skies are semi-dark) and got my B.A. in Astrophysics from Wellesley College (where the skies are not dark at all). After several summer research positions (including one in upstate New York where I finally, at the age of 19, saw the Milky Way for the first time!) and a stretch teaching astronomy for college credit, I realized my true love was talking to other people about space rather than doing research on it myself. After getting an M.A. in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University I spent a couple of years working as a research assistant, working with Cassini data. In 2011 I landed my dream job when I joined the team at the Charles Hayden Planetarium in Boston.

Planetarium Experience
Although I started out primarily as a presenter, I gradually accrued other jobs and duties as my time at the Planetarium increased. In 2012 I created the Museum’s evening astronomy lecture series, Beyond the Telescope, to bring in local astronomers (of which Boston has a surprising amount!) a few times a year to give presentations in the Planetarium dome. Some of these presentations have been successfully reproduced at the Adler Planetarium and the National Air and Space Museum. I am responsible for creating the Planetarium’s weekly schedule, coordinating the theater’s timetable with the calendars of each of the nine individual Planetarium staff members. I became the Planetarium contact point for multiple inter-departmental projects happening throughout the Museum. In acknowledgement that my actual role had outgrown my original job title, I was promoted to the newly-created position of Planetarium Coordinator in September 2016.

Growing into the Coordinator position has ensured that I have developed proficiency at keeping track of large amounts of data, managing projects, juggling schedules and priorities, and working with individuals and teams within the Museum, within the greater Boston area, and in other planetariums and museums around the country. I even have some experience with planning conferences! These skills have served me in good stead as MAPS Treasurer and Head of the Membership Committee, to which I was elected in 2017. Most importantly, I love planetariums, I love space science, and I love education, as all MAPS members do, and it would give me great pleasure to continue to do my part to help our membership share their passion and drive with one another to help us all be better at the very important task we carry out.