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Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer

Education: MA, Folklore, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. BA, English Literature, Haverford College, Haverford, PA. Certified Interpretive Planner, National Association for Interpretation.

Experience: Chicago History Museum Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer 2019–present; Shedd Aquarium, Senior Director/Director, Exhibits and Experience Development, 2011–19; Instructor, Johns Hopkins Museum Studies Program 2013–present; Shedd Aquarium Assistant Director of Exhibits/Senior Exhibit Developer, 2007–2011.

As Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, Nesbitt coordinates large scale initiatives and strategy across the Museum, including the implementation of the major construction of the Richard M. and Shirley H. Jaffee History Trail and renovation of Russell L. Lewis, Jr., Research Collection Facility. She is a former member of CHM’s Anti-Racism Task Force (2019–20) and collaborated with the team to bring to fruition the first DEI strategic plan for CHM. She currently serves as leadership sponsor for the organization’s strategic priority around equitable work processes.

At Shedd Aquarium, Nesbitt provided operational oversight and strategic vision for Shedd’s exhibition planning, library and archive, exhibit maintenance and horticulture departments, ensuring a welcoming and inspiring experience for Shedd’s 2M visitors each year. She spearheaded new exhibition projects and capital renovations including Underwater Beauty, winner of the overall excellence award from American Alliance of Museums in 2019, as well as creative renovations of permanent exhibitions such as Amazon Rising and At Home on the Great Lakes.  She collaborated interdepartmentally to strategize integration of conservation education across experiences, and worked closely with Marketing, Design, and Evaluation colleagues to develop and implement branded communications and campaigns to tell Shedd’s stories.

Nesbitt initiated and led Shedd’s transformative Accessibility and Inclusion initiative, an organization-wide effort to improve the experience for people with disabilities, which won both the AAM and American Zoo and Aquarium Association Diversity and Inclusion awards. She was a steering committee member of the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium from 2015-2019, and now serves on its board.

In 2019, Nesbitt received the American Alliance of Museum’s John Cotton Dana Award, a lifetime achievement award for exemplary leadership designed to recognize those outside the field of museum education who promote the educational responsibility and capacity of museums.

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