SAM Taps Nonprofit Veteran, Education Expert to Spearhead Development, STEM Efforts

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New hires aim to advance museum’s STEM offerings, programming and elevate museum profile

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina. (Sept. 25, 2023) – Sullenberger Aviation Museum, the premier aviation museum of the Southeast focused on inspiring and elevating the next generation through STEM, this morning announced the appointment of two key hires, both of whom will play an integral role in helping the museum advance its mission. Robert Touchstone, CFE, CSM, has been named vice president of advancement, and Kayla Adams will serve as director of education. These strategic appointments mark a significant milestone for the museum as it continues to build out its robust content and experiential offerings ahead of its expected opening in summer 2024.   

Robert Touchstone joins the museum after five years as vice president of philanthropy at the Arts & Science Council, bringing over 15 years of nonprofit fundraising expertise to his new role. His career has been marked by significant accomplishments at numerous organizations across Charlotte’s nonprofit sector, including doubling the operating budget of Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte and successfully leading a $16 million capital campaign for the Carolina Raptor Center. At ASC, Touchstone has been a driving force in ensuring equitable access to arts and education programs for the greater Charlotte community, making his new role at the Sullenberger Aviation Museum a seamless fit.

“As a longtime Charlottean, I have had the privilege of witnessing the evolution of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum over the past several years and feel incredibly grateful to now have the opportunity to join the dedicated and passionate staff who are shifting the narrative on what a museum can be,” said Touchstone. “I look forward to seeing the re-imagined museum continue to progress as a convener of big thinking and bigger ideas and advance equity and opportunity throughout the Charlotte region.”

Kayla Adams has also been appointed as the museum’s director of education, and will report to Vice President of Education Misty Sweat, M. Ed. Adams, who has a master’s degree in Public History, brings a wealth of experience in educational consulting, program development and hospitality, including the positions at the Georgia Capitol Museum, the Center for Puppetry Arts and MGM Resorts. Adams’ expertise in developing and implementing programming across a wide range of disciplines will be invaluable as she and Sweat work to develop and expand the museum’s educational curriculum.

“As an educator, I know that having equitable access to engaging STEM experiences can be a great equalizer in underserved communities and can help to expose students to career paths they may have never previously considered,” said Adams. “I’m honored to be part of the Sullenberger team bringing these opportunities to students through hands-on learning, immersive exhibits, programming and more.”

With a rich history and one of the foremost collections of flying machines anywhere, including the famed “Miracle on the Hudson” Airbus A320, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum’s expanded mission includes using the wonder of flight to expose young people – particularly those in diverse communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in the aviation industry – to STEM education and career opportunities.

“As we embark on the next chapter of our journey and look to re-introduce the community to our mission, we envision the museum not just as a repository of aviation history but as a beacon of boundless inspiration and a launchpad for innovation,” said Sullenberger Aviation Museum President Stephen Saucier. “Making hires who understand this ethos and who are not only aligned with our mission, but enthusiastic about advancing it, is a key ingredient to the museum’s future success, and we are grateful and inspired by the passion and skillsets both Robert and Kayla bring to our Sullenberger family.”

Founded in 1992 by local aviation enthusiasts as the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum is expected to open a new $30 million, state-of-the-art facility adjacent to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in summer 2024.

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