Maryland Science Center CEO to retire; top fundraiser named next executive

Maryland Science Center CEO Van Reiner is retiring and the institution will promote its chief fundraiser to lead the institution in October.

The center's board of trustees has voted unanimously to appoint Mark Potter as the next executive, they announced Monday. Potter has served as the center's vice president of development for six years, leading an ongoing capital campaign that has raised $5 million toward a $7.5 million goal.

The former Archbishop Curley High School teacher and administrator says he foresees "great possibilities" for the Inner Harbor attraction as a resource for educating children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"The role of informal science education in encouraging STEM achievement in our youth will only grow in the coming years," Potter said. "Witnessing the hard work and dedication of Van Reiner, I'm humbled and excited to succeed him and lead this institution in such an exciting time."

Reiner joined the science center in 2004 from Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point division in Baltimore County, which he led from 1998 until 2003.

Under his leadership, the center has invested in "learning-by-doing" activities and exhibits and has invested in sustainability, with projects including a green roof, solar panel array and porous paving.

Reiner informed the center's trustees around the beginning of the year that he planned to retire later this year, board chairman David Amy said. The board launched a search committee that quickly decided "we had the ideal candidate already at the Maryland Science Center," Amy said.

"[Potter's] impact has been phenomenal in terms of his outreach and the connection he has with the Baltimore community," Amy said. "He's a really impressive guy in terms of the qualities he brings to the table."

Potter worked as a teacher and administrator at Curley for 16 years and spent 11 years at the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust, serving as director of development and as executive director.

At the science center, he launched the current fundraising campaign and a strategic plan that the organization credits with a 30 percent increase in donors and a six-fold increase in volunteers.

Science center donations and grants have grown from $3.4 million in donations and grants in its fiscal year 2014 to $6.4 million in fiscal 2016.

Reiner said he is "grateful" that he will be succeeded by Potter, who he said "clearly has a passion for our work."

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