South Florida Science Center COO has spearheaded expansion projects

South Florida Science Center COO has spearheaded expansion projects

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Sunday, July 5, 2015

By Susan Salisbury - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


 

Kate Arrizza, chief operating officer of The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, formerly the South Florida Science Museum, oversees the non-profit’s budget, daily operations, capital projects and staff of 42.

The 54-year-old science and education center is a very different place today. In 2008, the planetarium and Motorola Theater were renovated and renamed through the support of the Dekelboum Family Foundation.

Another expansion was started three years ago, and resulted in an 8,000- gallon aquarium, a Conservation Research Station and an Everglades exhibit. It’s a popular school field trip location as well.

“We have expanded and doubled in size in the past two years,” Arrizza said.

There’s more on the way, too.

In September construction is slated to begin at the West Palm Beach center on a $1.5 million mini-golf course and a renovated 5-acre science trail. It will feature a “run-through” fountain, 40-foot tall dinosaurs, a “physics forest,” music stations, a bandstand and misting stations.

Name: Kate Arrizza

Age: 34

Hometown: Jupiter

Where you live now: Palm Beach Gardens

About your non-profit: Opening in 1961, The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium now operates as a “best-in-class,” community-based science center.

How your non-profit has changed: In April 2012, with a successful $6 million capital campaign, we broke ground on an exciting expansion project.

Guests now enjoy a 6,000 square foot building addition that houses the “Aquariums of the Atlantic” gallery and Florida-themed permanent exhibit hall with a “River of Grass” Everglades exhibit, an interactive NOAA Science on a Sphere exhibit, and a Student Science Showcase area. Most recently, we completed re-construction of our Hall of Discovery, containing 30 new and rehabilitated hands-on exhibits, an upgraded planetarium, a new early childhood education room with water play, photo booth, seating area and a light/bright wall; an upgraded theater, and a new science laboratory.

First paying job and what you learned from it: Officer in the US Navy. The biggest and most valuable tool I learned was how to deal with people from varying backgrounds and realizing that the type of leadership that works for one person might not work on another.

First break in the business: I received my honorable discharge from the Navy after almost 10 years of service. As a former volunteer at the old Science Museum, I came here to visit and asked about any job openings — and low and behold there was an opening for a Science Educator.

Best business book you ever read: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen Covey

Best piece of business advice you ever received: “Nothing great ever happened from staying in your comfort zone.”

What you tell young people about your business: Don’t enter the world of a non-profit if you want to be a millionaire…it will never happen. Enter this field if you are passionate and want to make a real difference in community.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Great things are on the horizon…tourism is picking up, large construction projects are on the way and I couldn’t think of a better place to live, work and raise my two children.

Where we can find you when you are not at the office: I am a long distance ocean swimmer and my home feels like the ocean — so you can always find me swimming in the ocean

Favorite smartphone app: StarMap 3D+ - you point your cell phone up at the sky and it shows you everything you could possibly want to know about what is up there.

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? I focus on the personality of the person just as much as I focus on their resume and accomplishments. You can always teach someone how to do the technical aspect of their job but you can’t teach someone how to have a good attitude.

 

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