Bryn Parchman, president and CEO of the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, will retire this fall after more than 23 years with the museum.
Port Discovery’s board of directors will lead a transition committee to immediately begin searching for a new CEO.
Parchman has served as president and CEO of the organization for 18 years, following roles as vice president of marketing and chief operating officer.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the journey of Port Discovery – from opening the doors to where we are today,” Parchman said in a statement. “Surrounded by an amazing team of co-workers, board and other volunteers, it’s been simply an honor. The Museum is well-positioned for its next chapter and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Museum officials said Port Discovery serves thousands of children each year, including at one time Parchman and her husband’s own children, now adults.
Parchman aided the growth of the museum’s “state-of-the-art interactive educational exhibits” and programs, and helped “ensure that all children, especially those from under-resourced communities, have the opportunity to benefit from child-driven playful learning both in the Museum and throughout Maryland,” museum officials said.
Parcham led the completion of a $10.5 million capital campaign for the museum, the construction and opening of new exhibits, the opening of the museum’s first temporary satellite location, and new in-person and virtual programs to continue serving patrons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under Parchman’s leadership, Port Discovery in May launched a new PlayMakers access program, reducing admission costs for low-income families. General admission to Port Discovery is normally $19.95 for visitors age 1 and older, but PlayMakers lowered that cost to $3 per person for families with EBT or WIC cards.
“The impact of Bryn’s passion and dedication for community service, for play and learning, and for the children and families of Maryland has been tremendous – not only at the Museum, but throughout the communities we serve,” Dennis Rasmussen, Chairman of the Port Discovery Board of Directors, said in a statement. “Bryn’s leadership and vision have led Port Discovery to be one of the top Children’s Museums in the country, and positioned us to continue that trajectory as the Museum moves forward.”
The Daily Record recognized Parchman as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, named her one of the Most Admired CEOs, and inducted her into the publication’s Circle of Excellence for Sustained Achievement.
The Baltimore Business Journal also named Parchman an Enterprising Woman, and she was inducted into Smart CEO’s Brava! Hall of Fame.
The museum also announced that it received a $1 million gift from philanthropic partners The Sylvan Laureate Foundation, with support from Douglas and Erin Becker and Robert Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, to continue providing Maryland families with opportunities for play, learning and exploration; to build the museum’s endowment; and to support community initiatives such as PlayMakers and Fathers at Play.
“Port Discovery Children’s Museum is an important institution and resource for all of Baltimore and Maryland’s children and families,” Douglas Becker, the museum’s founding board chair and former president of the Sylvan Laureate Foundation, said in a statement. “Our family is proud to make a contribution in support of the Sylvan Laureate Foundation’s gift to help Port Discovery continue to bring children and families together to benefit from the power of play, and to do so in ways that will have a positive and significant impact on the Baltimore community.”
Parchman said playful and educational opportunities are integral to the happiness and success of children and families.
“Children and families need play and learning in their lives – it’s how they learn, imagine, grow and heal,” Parchman said. “We are so grateful for this extraordinary gift which will support the important work we’re doing at Port Discovery to bring play to more children – both at the Museum and through our work in the community. The remarkable, long-standing commitment to Port Discovery demonstrated by the Becker and Meyerhoff families and the Sylvan Laureate Foundation is truly inspirational.”