The new executive director at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland has worn a lot of hats, and she thinks that makes her the right person to take the organization to the next level.

"We've got to work to get (ScienceWorks) to its next bump," said Ann Dowdy, whose hiring was announced Tuesday. "I want to improve and build the organization's programs and infrastructure so it lasts long past my tenure here."

Dowdy, most recently of Florida, replaces Chip Lindsey, who stepped down from the post in June 2016 after about five years to work for the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. Steve Utt, ScienceWorks board president, served as interim director until Dowdy's hiring.

A native Oregonian who grew up in Glendale, Dowdy recalled an exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry where patrons could walk through a model of a heart and see the organ's individual parts. Dowdy remembers the heartbeat sounds that accompanied the exhibit and how it affected her.

"This place is going to be like that," she said of ScienceWorks.

Dowdy's experience includes multiple development, communications and marketing posts in Hawaii, California, Louisiana, Alaska, Texas, New Mexico and Florida.

Her LinkedIn profile lists work at Frameworks, a youth development nonprofit, Santa Fe Children's Museum, Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa Bay, Florida, Tampa Museum of Art, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. She also has worked for PBS and NPR stations and served on several nonprofit boards, her profile shows. Prior to the ScienceWorks post, she worked at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Bay.

"I've worn all of those hats, and so I think I can bring the level of expertise into the organization that the staff need at this period of growth," she said.

ScienceWorks, at 1500 E. Main St., in Ashland, opened in 2002. It is described as a hands-on learning facility with nearly 100 interactive exhibits. Past exhibits have included collaborations with the Smithsonian Institution, OMSI and NASA. The facility hosts more than 60,000 visitors per year, according to its website. It currently works with a budget of about $1.1 million.

Dowdy's immediate goal is to get the facility to the next level, she said. The museum's long-range plan includes growth in the education and outreach, including activities, programs and events that can be shared with the public away from the museum, such as at the Jackson and Josephine county fairs. Major events this year include the facility's 15th anniversary and events related to a solar eclipse in August.

The museum is also looking to hire new coordinators for field trips and birthday parties. Dowdy compared the process to assembling a puzzle; the pieces are already there, it's just a matter of organizing them and putting them together.

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.