"Bringing Melissa Russo to San
Bernardino County is a major step toward fulfilling the commitment made by the
Board of Supervisors to put our museum system back on the right track," said
Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos.
An exciting and positive new era for the San Bernardino County Museum
will begin on October 19th, when Melissa A. Russo
takes the helm as museum director.
Russo, who will become San Bernardino County Museum's first female
director, has spent the past six years as Director of Institutional Advancement
at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. Previously she served for
10 years as executive director of the Western Museums Association. She brings
to San Bernardino County 23 years of experience as a high-achieving museum
"This is one of many steps the Board of
Supervisors has taken to provide our county community with a modern, fiscally
healthy, and respected educational and cultural institution that will attract
and engage visitors in record numbers, compete with all other Southern
California museums, and responsibly preserve our county's heritage," Chairman Ramos said.
Certified Fund Raising Executive, has a strong record of fiscal management,
strategic planning, program planning and execution, fundraising, board
development, and building good relationships with the public. She has a
master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois and a bachelor's
degree in economics from UCLA.
am thrilled and honored to have been chosen to lead the San Bernardino County
Museum," Russo said. "I look forward to working with the Board of
Supervisors, the staff and the Museum Association. Together, I am confident we
will reinvigorate the museum and, through vibrant community engagement, keep
this extraordinary institution a truly vital resource in the life of this
Bernardino County Museum includes a main facility in Redlands, the Victor
Valley Museum in Apple Valley, and historic sites in Chino, Colton, Rancho
Cucamonga, Redlands, and Yucaipa.
museum has struggled in recent years with drops in attendance, revenue, and
association membership, as well as economy-driven budget cuts and staff
reductions. A 2014 county-commissioned study by San Francisco-based Museum
Management Consultants concluded the museum has tremendous potential and could
benefit greatly from business-minded management and a greater focus on
fundraising by the independent nonprofit San Bernardino County Museum
pointed out that the nation's best museums survive not primarily on government
support, as has been the case with the San Bernardino County Museum, but rather
on robust and consistent fundraising by non-profit associations. The consultant
advised the museum association to partner with a fundraising consultant,
increase the size and scope of its board, and consider assisting the county in
funding key staff positions. Museum attendance has increased during the
January, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to begin implementing a series
of the consultant's recommendations, including filling the vacant director
position with someone adept at business and management, and forging a more
productive relationship with the museum association.
2015, the board adopted a short-term action plan to set the museum on a
positive track until a long-range strategic plan could be developed under the
leadership of a new director.