BREAKING NEWS: Putnam Museum names new president, CEO

Subhead:  Cindy Diehl Yang named to leadership position

Cindy Diehl Yang

Cindy Diehl Yang has been named the new president and CEO of the Putnam Museum & Science Center in Davenport, the Putnam’s Board of Trustees announced on Friday, June 7.

She will begin her new role in early July.

Ms. Yang has more than 20 years of leadership experience in innovative non- profit organizations and 18 years’ experience in executive leadership. Currently, she is a vice president at VGM Group of Waterloo, Iowa, and leads the online education division of this national company comprising 22 divisions dedicated to healthcare and corporate business solutions.

Prior to that, Ms. Yang was the director of the Center for Educational Transformation at the University of Northern Iowa. She has extensive membership and fundraising experience in earlier roles as executive director of the Executives’ Club of Chicago and from 2004-2010 was executive vice president of Associated Colleges of Illinois, where she spearheaded important statewide partnerships between colleges and high need public schools and communities.

 Her record  includes earned revenue development, fundraising, membership and program development, strategic planning, and online learning systems. 

She replaces Rachael Mullins, who retired earlier this year, and served as president and CEO since 2019. Ms. Mullins was hailed by trustees for her efforts guiding the museum through the pandemic, refining the mission of the organization for the modern era, and driving a series of facility improvements.

A national search for a new president and CEO was launched soon after Ms. Mullins announced her retirement last October.

“Cindy brings a breadth and depth of leadership experience perfectly matched for the Putnam’s needs and vision for the future as the leading center for history, science and hands-on learning in the region,” stated Putnam Board President and search committee co-chair Kerry Smith.

“Since its founding more than 150 years ago, the Putnam has been about discovery, learning and connecting the sciences and history to the community,” he added. Dana Wilkinson, Putnam trustee and search committee co-chair stated, “Cindy brings many years’ experience developing innovative programming, membership development and exceptional fundraising success. She is an entrepreneur and seasoned nonprofit leader.”

Ms. Yang has a master of arts degree in interdisciplinary arts non-profit leadership from Columbia College in Chicago and throughout her career has served on many community boards, and committees. She has been a member and volunteer of national and regional organizations including the American Alliance of Museums, Hawkeye Community College Foundation Board, Northeast Iowa Food Bank, Women in Leadership Mentorship Committee at VGM, and the National College Access Network.

 “I am thrilled and honored to be selected to lead the Putnam Museum & Science Center as it enters its next phase of growth and sets strategic direction for the next generation of visitors,” noted Ms. Yang. “As I reflect on the importance of the Putnam, I marvel at its long history of service to the community and the thousands of visitors who have been inspired by its programs, collections and exhibitions. It was my career start as Education and Outreach Director at the Peoria Art Guild many years ago that set me on my path of nonprofit service to communities…and now to lead Putnam is truly exciting.”

“I am thrilled to welcome Cindy to the Quad Cities cultural community,” said Jen Lewis, executive director of the Quad Cities Cultural Trust and member of the search committee. 

She noted, “The Quad Cities Cultural Trust has invested annually in the Putnam for the last 17 years because we know culture matters here and it always will. Attracting and retaining talent like Cindy is indicative of the growth our region continues to make. Great things are ahead for the Putnam and QCCT will remain a proud investor.”

“I was honored to be a member of the Search Committee, and excited to recommend Cindy as the Putnam’s next CEO.” said Greg Schermer, a Putnam Trustee. “The Putnam is a great institution and resource for the Quad Cities. There is work to be done to drive this museum and learning center forward in the community, and Cindy is the right executive to realize the potential of this fine institution. The Putnam will do wonderful new programs, outreach, and exhibits for the community under her leadership.”

Ms. Yang will begin work right after the Fourth of July holiday. She currently lives in Cedar Falls with her husband and two daughters. 

The national search was conducted by Daniel Keegan of Museum Leadership Placement.

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.