Why she’s interesting: Winner became the 10th director in the 98-year history of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in July. A voracious reader and globe-trotting traveler, she’s equal parts visionary and fundraiser — the perfect person to oversee University Circle institution’s $150 million expansion and renovation as it nears its centennial in 2020. “We’re telling the story of life here. It’s an ongoing and complicated story and the most compelling thing about my work.”
Century Mark: Phase 1 of the museum’s Centennial Project included the additions of the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears Garden, the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden and an energy-efficient parking garage. But the departure of former executive director and CEO Evalyn Gates in late 2017 has made the organization rethink its priorities. For Winner, the biggest challenges of the museum’s expansion are more cerebral than structural. “How do we position ourselves for the next 100 years? It’s not about the building itself, it’s about what’s happening in that building. It’s a whole new framework of engaging with new audiences.”
Business Sense: The former associate dean at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management and Law School spent six years at Columbia University, where she was part of a team that raised $6 billion for the school. “If you have a big idea you can share with others, great things can be accomplished.”
History Lesson: Winner marvels at the 400,000-plus people who visit the museum each year — a recent Think and Drink with the Extinct event drew a crowd of 1,500. “I see parents with toddlers, school groups and couples out on dates. It’s really a nurturing experience. There’s a sense of wonder here that can make you feel like a child again.” //
Global Citizen: Winner was born at Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Philippines, and moved 14 times while growing up. “I was always the new girl who had to meet new people. I was exposed to different cultures and I was always curious about people. That has served me well.”
By the Book: The granddaughter of a coal miner, Winner was the first in her family to attend college, graduating from Bowling Green State University. Regular trips to the library with her parents sparked a love of reading. “I’ve always been fascinated with history because of my love of books. In my heart of hearts, I’m really a nerd.”
Frequent Flyer: Winner’s near-constant traveling has earned her million-mile status. “I know it sounds crazy, but I’ll leave for Hong Kong on a Thursday and come back on Sunday or fly to Mexico City on Friday and be back in the office on Monday. I’m endlessly fascinated by how we are all connected.”
Three and Out:
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Two years ago I went to Machu Picchu in Peru and climbed the ancient Sun Gate Trail. It’s not something people do by themselves. I’m an adventurer.
What’s your most treasured item?
My grandmother’s ring that I received when she died. I was very close to her. She was very generous of spirit and heart.
If your life was a hashtag, what would it be?
#WorkHardPlayHard. I do spin classes with an amazing group at Harness Cycle Hingetown.