Reprinted with permission from The Republic newspaper, December 8, 2022

Ben Wagner, executive director of kidscommons, Columbus’ Community Children’s Museum, will leave his position on Dec. 30th.

He is beginning a new role as the executive director of the Tipton Lakes Community Association (TLCA) on Jan. 3, kidscommons officials said.

Wagner, a Columbus native, has been with kidscommons since 2014. Prior to working with the museum, he served as associate director of Foundation for Youth and then director of the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department.

TLCA Board President Andrew Simms said Wagner is a good fit for their organization because of his non-profit leadership experience as well as his expertise managing outdoor spaces. “Ben brings a unique set of skills and experience that dovetails nicely with the needs of our 1,290+ household association. His leadership will be key in not only preserving the legacy of his predecessors, but also charting the course for the future of TLCA,” said Simms.

The association’s current executive director, Staci Likens, who has led the organization for six years, will retire Dec. 31.

kidscommons Board President Erin Hawkins said, ‘While the museum’s board of directors is sorry to see Wagner go, he is leaving the museum in good shape. kidscommons is in the strongest financial position in its history. We thank Ben for his leadership and the numerous contributions he made during his tenure.”

One of Wagner’s successes at kidscommons is the extensive camp kidscommons exhibit, where kids can learn about nature on the museum’s third floor. “We put a lot of heart and soul into that exhibit, and I am so thankful to all the people who worked hard on its completion and those who contributed to make it a reality. This is a special community and I’d like to thank everyone for supporting kidscommons,” Wagner said.

The kidscommons board of directors has appointed the museum’s assistant director, Whitney Hartwell, to the role of interim executive director, effective Jan. 1.

Hawkins said she is grateful for the mentorship Wagner has provided to Hartwell. “Several months ago, Ben approached the board about promoting Whitney to assistant director. He has been working with her for quite some time to bring her up to speed on the financial and operational aspects of running the museum, so we feel confident in her abilities and value her institutional knowledge.”