FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A scientist and former university administrator will be serving as interim director at the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) while the search continues for a new permanent director.

The MNA Board selected Dr. Laura Huenneke because of her research background and extensive leadership experience.

Huenneke has been a MNA trustee since 2017, but has resigned from the board to be interim director.

Huenneke is an ecologist and conservation scientist with a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. Huenneke spent 16 years at New Mexico State University, where she became Regents’ Professor and department chair in biology. In 2003 she moved to Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University, where she served as dean, vice president for research, and provost.

She has been elected three times to the governing board of the Ecological Society of America (most recently as President for the 2018-19 year). Huenneke has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including the Las Cruces Natural History Museum, the Arboretum at Flagstaff, and the Arizona Chapter of The Nature Conservancy; currently she is also a member of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund board.

“The museum has always been an institution that I’ve admired and valued,” Huenneke said. “It is exciting that we’re in the 90 year celebration. It’s also imperative for us to think strategically about the next 90 years.”

Huenneke sees her role as interim director as keeping the day-to-day operations running smoothly while the MNA Board engages in a thorough, nationwide search for the next permanent director. MNA is working with an executive search firm and is already reviewing candidate resumes. However, the search is expected to take several months.

 “We will get this done as quickly as we can,” said Bob Gunnarson, MNA Board vice-chair, who is leading the search committee. “But what we don’t want to do is rush it. We want to find the best possible person to take us from 90 years to 100.”

Information provided by the Museum of Northern Arizona

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