UWM alum chosen to lead Milwaukee Public Museum

UWM grad Ellen Censky has been chosen as president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Censky has been serving in those roles on an interim basis since the resignation of Dennis Kois in September 2018.

“Ellen’s exceptional scientific achievements, her vision for and deep understanding of the Milwaukee Public Museum, and her commitment to this community make her the right person for the job,” said Susan Martin, chair of the museum’s search committee. Martin led a nationwide search that included interviewing over 118 applicants.

Ellen Censky

Censky is the first female president and CEO in the museum’s 137-year history.

Her appointment comes at an important time in the museum’s history, as it is looking for a downtown location to build a modern, state-of-the-art facility at a cost in the neighborhood of $100 million. Museum directors decided in 2017 that the museum should be replaced rather than renovated.

“I am humbled by this opportunity to lead the Milwaukee Public Museum at such an integral point in the organization’s history and future,” Censky said. “Over the course of my career I’ve developed a vision of how natural history museums can and should continue to thrive as a critical part of local and global communities, and I’m thrilled to now have the opportunity to execute that vision in my home state of Wisconsin, finding new and innovative ways to share the wonder of science and world cultures with our visitors.”

Censky, a Wisconsin native who grew up in Cedarburg, received her Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from UWM. She earned her doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Pittsburgh.

Censky’s career in natural history museums started at the Milwaukee Public Museum in 1977. She has served in other leadership positions at museums across the country, including stints as director of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and director and CEO of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

“Ellen is a proven leader and visionary,” said Tim Byrne, managing director at Baird and chair of the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Board of Directors. “We could not be more impressed with her experience and are enthusiastic about moving MPM forward under the direction of the museum’s first female CEO.”

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