Jessie Goodwin on leading The Children’s Museum
School is out for summer, and parents are now looking for ways to keep their kids entertained and off screens during the relentless heat of the season. One option is The Children’s Museum of Wilmington, a downtown destination for kids of all ages. At its helm is Jessie Goodwin, who was promoted to executive director earlier this year and is already channeling her knowledge and experience with great impact.
“The museum has served the Wilmington community and area visitors for 26 years, and we are having our most visited year yet,” says Goodwin. “I’m excited to see the museum continue to provide a safe place to play and grow but look forward to reaching more of our community and serving all children.”
Goodwin began her career with The Children’s Museum of Wilmington in 2019 as the education, membership and volunteer coordinator. She was then promoted to director of operations in 2021 before serving as the interim executive director in 2022. Since becoming the executive director, the museum has seen record-high admissions, membership, and profitability, which will lead to an even better experience for all.
“The museum has entered an exciting chapter,” says Goodwin. “We have a great team full of positive energy, collaboration with our community partners keeps things exciting and we get to watch our visitors play, learn and grow. How lucky am I to work in a fun environment that supports a great mission?”
Goodwin’s love for teaching began at an early age and only grew with time and her own education. “I love asking questions, analyzing and learning which led me to pursue an education degree and teach,” says Goodwin. “Graduate school brought me to Wilmington where I learned more about museums and the value they provide their communities.”
These values and experiences inform Goodwin’s approach to her current position. “Serving as Executive Director has combined my experiences in a meaningful way greater than just ‘going to work,’” she says. “Community service and true dedication to our mission drives my work ethic. Honest communication, trust in and support of staff animate my leadership style. I’m an advocate of leading by example and feel that inspires others to be their best.”
Part of her success is the emphasis Goodwin puts on a strong work-life balance for herself as well as her staff. “It is always a work in progress,” says Goodwin. “While I encourage the rest of my team to establish a healthy balance, we all know it is easier said than done. I have multiple weekly group activities that not only help ‘end’ my work day but give me something to look forward to, as well. Other days, I really embrace doing little things for myself.”
As Goodwin and her team chart the organization’s course, she hopes to welcome more of the community to the museum. “I’d love to invite readers to reach out if they have never been to the museum as we’d be happy to give them a tour to see firsthand all we have to offer,” she says.