Senior Staff

Get to know more about our Senior Staff members at Exploration Place.

Adam Smith

President

Adam joined Exploration Place on November 11, 2019. He has led museums or has served in museum leadership positions since 2001 and has served in the museum field since 1997. He most recently was Executive Director for Comic-Con Museum in San Diego, California. Before Comic-Con Museum, Adam served as Executive Vice President at Commemorative Air Force, the world’s largest flying museum. He led the organization’s move from Midland, Texas, to new headquarters in Dallas. The new museum location includes an Aviation Education Center and STEM innovation hangar, classrooms and exhibit space.

Adam also spent 11 years as Museum Director and Vice President with the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he elevated its STEM-based learning, career development programming, distance learning and summer camps. Adam served with other museums as well, including National Museums of Scotland, Lower Methil Heritage Trust and Pendle Heritage Centre.

Adam earned a postgraduate diploma in museum and gallery studies (Awarded with Distinction) from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and a Bachelor of Arts in Modern History (First Class Honors) from the University of Leeds, England. Originally from England, Smith has lived in the United States since 2001, but especially cherishes the time he spent in Wisconsin and is happy to be back in the Midwest.

Kent Shank

Chief Financial Officer/ Human Resources

Kent has worked in the museum industry for 27 years. He is responsible for the financial and human resource functions of Exploration Place. Kent spent 16 years at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center as vice president of finance and human resources where he was responsible for the finance and human resource functions as well as many operations functions throughout his career there. Before Exploration Place, he worked for Via Christi Senior Services, Inc. as regional director of finance. Kent received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Kansas State University.

Dustin Hendricks

Director of Visitor Services

Dustin has been a part of the Exploration Place team since before the museum opened. He is a lifelong Wichitan and has more than 20 years of customer service experience. At Exploration Place, he oversees gallery experiences, guest relations, volunteers, facility rentals and the Explore Store. Prior to becoming the Director of Visitor Services, Dustin was the Visitor Services Manager for 10 years.

Laura Roddy

Chief Advancement Officer

Laura joined Exploration Place in 2021 after five years in a similar role at Mark Arts. She is also a former president of the Junior League of Wichita and has worked as a contributing editor for The Journal of the Kansas Leadership Center, copy editor for the Dallas Morning News and public information officer for the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

Laura earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in communication from Wichita State University. She has been an Exploration Place member since 2006, spending countless hours enjoying the exhibits. Once, as a Girl Scout leader, she and her troop even camped out overnight in the Where Kids Rule exhibit.

Laurel Zhang

Director of Education

Laurel has worked in the education field for more than 23 years. She oversees development, delivery, and evaluation of all directed education programs for schools, youth organizations, libraries, after-school programs, birthday parties, camps, preschool classes and more. Laurel joined Exploration Place in 2005 as program coordinator for the education department. Over the years, she has filled many roles at the museum, most recently director of special projects. Laurel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language at Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Science in Management from Friends University.

Victoria Mitchell

Director of Exhibits and Programming

Victoria joined Exploration Place in 2014 and worked in the education department for over 7 years before being promoted into her current role. She has participated in a wide variety of projects and programs, including the epic Rube Goldberg Machine that launched the museum’s reopening in July 2020. Her role as Director of Exhibits and Programming includes overseeing new traveling exhibits, floor programs, live science shows, dome movies and special programs.

Victoria graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Biology in 2012 from Southwestern College. She is a Wichita native, having graduated from Wichita North High school in 2008. She participated in Wichita’s Finest Heroes 2019 and is an active member in W Young Pros.

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