Maria Mitchell Association Announces New Executive Director – Joanna Roche
Nantucket, MA – Helene Weld, the President of the Board of Directors of the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA), announced today that Joanna Roche will take on the role of MMA’s next Executive Director. According to Weld, “While our search allowed us to consider a number of excellent candidates from across the country, we are pleased to welcome a Nantucket resident to this critical role. We are certain Joanna is the person to take our organization to the next level in achieving our mission: to create opportunities for all to develop a life-long passion for science through education, research, and first-hand exploration of the sky, land, and sea of Nantucket Island.”
Joanna is a proven leader who has extensive experience in both the nonprofit and business world. In her past roles, she has led large teams, worked successfully with diverse boards, delivered strong financial performance, increased and strengthened revenue streams, and focused on providing exceptional guest experiences. Her past career successes will serve her well in carrying out the goals of the MMA.
Joanna has articulated a bold vision for the future and for what can be next for the organization, including raising the visibility of MMA not only on the island but nationally; enhancing the overall experience for those visiting and interacting with MMA; and building and diversifying the funding streams for the organization.
Joanna said, “I’m especially enthusiastic about using my passion to help continue to promote the legacy of Maria Mitchell. Mitchell was a true pioneer, not only as a woman scientist, but as a woman leader who was far ahead of her time in advocating for and supporting the next generation of the curious, and those who love nature and learning.”
She has a well-established network of connections on the island and has served on the Town of Nantucket Finance Committee for the past six years. She was also recently named to the Coastal Resiliency Advisory Committee, where she will advocate for and contribute her expertise on issues of importance to both the island and the MMA.
She was most recently the Executive Director of GSN Planet and Foundation, where she led two global nonprofits focused on sustainability and education in the wellness arena. She has consulted on numerous new capital and development projects, managing budgets, financial oversight, and revenue growth. She also served as an executive at the Westmoor Club where she led the vision, revenue growth, and staff of the Club’s Wellness Center. Earlier in her career, she was Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Strategist for Pierce Mattie Public Relations in New York.
Frances Symes, who serves on the MMA Board and co-chaired the search committee, said, “MMA is pleased and excited to have the talents and energy of Joanna as our new leader. With her understanding of the island combined with her passion for the environment, business expertise and commitment to a high-quality visitor experience, we know MMA’s future is in good hands.”
Originally from the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, Joanna has always been active in the communities where she has lived, serving on many local boards and committees. She is also a well-known speaker, hosted a long-running radio show here on Nantucket, and is a wellness and meditation teacher. Roche loves the outdoors, and is a longtime runner.
Weld concludes, “This is an exciting time for MMA, as we look to the future and find new ways to grow our impact and presence both here on Nantucket and nationally. Having Joanna as Executive Director will make us that much more successful in leading the organization into a strong and vibrant future. We are grateful to Interim Director Jason Bridges for skillfully leading the Maria Mitchell Association over the past year.”
The Maria Mitchell Association is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.