Melissa D. Kaiser is the CEO of DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, a nonprofit educational institution in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kaiser moved to Las Vegas to take the helm of the Museum in May 2018, bringing more than 25 years non-profit management experience with an expertise in fundraising, partnership building and strategic planning to the community.
Under Kaiser’s leadership, DISCOVERY Children’s Museum has increased its support revenue and grown its annual operating budget by 13%. DISCOVERY also became the first museum in Nevada to join the national Museums for All program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which grants families on assistance and foster care families reduced admission of $3 per person. To promote the program and reach more Spanish-speaking families, the Museum launched a Hispanic marketing campaign and added bilingual signage throughout its galleries. In February 2019, the Museum unveiled a new makerspace gallery focusing on STEAM education, incorporating learning tools and modalities including robotics, 3D printing, clay making, and tinkering – a highlight of Kaiser’s first year.
Before joining DISCOVERY, Kaiser served as the Executive Vice President of Development at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, the nation’s first Museum and School of fine arts, boasting one of the top three collections of American art in the world. She led the organization’s capital campaign and development department, which was successful in raising over $20 million for the expansion of its facilities to house a new fine art illustration major and increase storage space for the museum’s collection. In addition, Kaiser and her team contributed to the achievement of eight consecutive balanced budgets for the $17 million dollar organization. Prior to her tenure at PAFA, Kaiser served as Director of Development at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Assistant Director of Development at Pennsylvania Ballet.
Kaiser earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive certification in 2007 and holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Art History and French from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Summerlin Las Vegas Rotary Club, Executive Women’s Council of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Vegas Alliance. She also serves as Secretary of the Board of RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Melissa, her husband Roy live in Summerlin with their dog, a six-year old boxer, named Kiko. Her stepson, Roy III (29), lives in Austin, Texas and her stepdaughter, Cristina (23) also lives in Las Vegas.
The Jameson Fellowship focuses on leadership and recognizes individuals – of diverse ages, races, backgrounds, sectors, and organizations - for their contributions to southern Nevada. The Fellowship is an investment in relationships and aims to build a solid and connected leadership base across the nonprofit sector.