When Greensboro, North Carolina, Assistant City Manager, Chris Wilson, is asked about public-private partnerships, he lights up with the opportunity to talk about the “shining example” of the Greensboro Science Center (GSC).
Now a well-respected model for other such ventures, the GSC was once a small-scale community museum with a petting zoo, content with its status quo. Formerly managed by the City of Greensboro as an extension of its recreation offerings, it lacked a forward-looking vision, and had not grown visitation or support over its many years of operation.
Enter Glenn Dobrogosz, who was appointed Executive Director in 2004, 12 years after the entity had been converted to a nonprofit, 501c3. With Glenn’s vision and empowerment of the staff, it soon became apparent that inspiring growth was underway.
A major catalyst that shifted the organization’s future occurred when Glenn met Chris Wilson, and the two began working together to push for bigger ideas and economic development. This partnership unleashed a public-private partnership that would impact the entire community in unforeseeable ways.
An important lesson to share with organizations considering a major effort like this is that big visions are far more inspiring than incremental improvements. Glenn Dobrogosz brought big vision to the GSC. He delivered on the vision by building a dynamic staff, then earning the trust of potential supporters and making connections that would enable his vision to become reality.
With the belief that the GSC had to change to survive, Glenn began sharing his vision for a “three-in-one campus,” including an AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium combined with an AAM science museum – a one-stop destination for science and tourism. These ideas developed through strategic planning work.