By Ohio.org Staff
Posted On: Jan 5, 2022
When Great Lakes Science Center President & CEO Kirsten Ellenbogen, Ph.D., was in the sixth grade, her mom, who grew up in Cleveland and raised her family in Detroit, set out on an unusual path.
Yearbook photo of Kirsten's mom.
She wanted to show that women can achieve whatever they set their mind to, including completing their education, balancing work and family, and breaking through the barriers in the male-dominated worlds of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). So, she re-enrolled in the college she had left to raise her family and graduated with a degree in computer science the same year as Kirsten.
It's safe to say that a childhood environment with a mother like that greatly contributed to Kirsten's love of science and education, ultimately leading to her assuming the helm in 2013 as the third president in the Science Center's history.
"When my family and I moved here, I was impressed at how much had changed since the days of traveling here as a child to visit family. It was exciting to arrive here in Cleveland some 30-odd years later and see how the city has rallied and grown, hosting everything from the NFL Draft to the Republican National Convention," Kirsten said. "I quickly found that many leaders in the community were on the same page as I was, which made the new STEM workforce development projects we launched at the Science Center a natural fit."
Kirsten has appreciated the civic-minded leadership in Cleveland that has allowed her to forge meaningful partnerships with many of Northeast Ohio’s education, science, and technology based institutions, including the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, NASA Glenn Research Center and numerous corporate partners, such as Timken, Rockwell Automation and PPG.
Kirsten and her family enjoy having a wealth of museums as well as a robust theater and arts scene. Ohio's central location puts almost any Midwest or East Coast city an easy road trip away. They chose to settle down in Shaker Heights, a first-ring suburb, because it more than meets their desire to be in a live-work-play community with restaurants and shops in walking distance.
She recalls coming home from work the first day in their new home and finding two children from down the block looking to invite her eldest out for a bike ride. Making friends for the adults in the family was just about as easy.
She and her husband, a teacher in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, were happily surprised at how quickly they were made to feel at home. They're both active in multiple organizations, serve on volunteer boards, and are definitely not treated like newcomers.