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Janesville, Wisconsin

Board of Directors

Meet the team behind the museum

Claire Gray

President and Secretary

  • Education: B.A. Cultural Anthropology, B.A. International Studies with a focus in Latin America from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). M.B.A. Supply Chain Management from UW-Madison.
  • Current Career Position: Stay-at-home parent
  • How long have you lived in Rock County? Since 2015.
  • What inspires you? Growth. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent, my professional career was focused on fostering community development in both the non-profit and for-profit spheres. When I decided to stay at home with my children, I was passionate about creating an environment and providing varied opportunities for them to explore, learn and grow. The more I developed my parenting skills, the more I felt that every child should be exposed to environments and experiences that support their growth and development at all age levels, but especially in the formative birth to 4 years.
  • Why did you volunteer to be a board member? I volunteered to be a board member because I am passionate about child development and the prospect of opening a children’s museum right here in Rock County – the community is totally ready for it! I felt my professional skills would be a good match for what we need to open the museum doors. My professional background in non-profit fundraising, administration and program management will be useful as we embark upon a major fundraising campaign and develop the organizational structure for the museum to operate on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, my for-profit experience of managing perishable supply chains provides me with a systemic way of thinking and understanding of how to be flexible and responsive, skills that enable us to build sustainability and innovation into the museum.
  • What’s your favorite type of activity or exhibit in a children’s museum? This is hard! I have been to so many awesome children’s museums. In general, my favorite exhibits are the ones the get kids moving, creating and thinking. One of the neatest I remember encountering was a seasonal exhibit around the holidays. The museum staff recreated a shipping and receiving area where kids could load boxes onto a conveyor belt and then retrieve them to stock a truck or a plane. It was interesting to watch kids interact with the different elements – the carts, the boxes, the rollers on the conveyor belt – and then stack boxes, deliver them or just build with them. It was something mundane that seemed to be magical once kids got creative with it

Macy mcbeth ryan

Vice President

  • Education: B.A. English from Rice University (Houston, TX). Study abroad in Film and Journalism at the University of Westminster (London, England). Graduate courses in Film and Television Production at University of Southern California (USC – Los Angeles, CA).
  • Current Career Position: Freelance writer working on my first novel
  • How long have you lived in Rock County? 4.5 years. 
  • What inspires you? I’m inspired by creativity, because exploratory self-expression leads to new perspectives of life in ways of seeing and understanding ourselves, others, and the world around us. Children are the best exemplars of what it means to lead a creative, unencumbered life, because from where they stand, literally anything is possible. I love watching children make art from mundane objects, engage in dramatic play from whatever is closest at hand, and craft stories simply from what they see around them. To possess a creative mind is to possess strength, resilience, and domain over your own life, and there may be no greater skill. What inspires me most about creativity is that every human being has it, from anywhere, at any time, and the more it is tapped into, the more robust it becomes.
  • Why did you volunteer to be a board member? It almost feels that, in my experience as writer, filmmaker, and fundraiser, and in my role as a mother, that all roads have always been leading me to this. I’m excited to use my skills and knowledge to contribute to the shaping of the Museum’s exhibits, activities, and programming, and my experience with non-profits is a good fit for the developmental stage of the Museum at this time. “Children are the future” is not just a time-tested mantra; it is the truth. I love children, and I wholeheartedly believe that investing in their education and quality of life with the Museum is an investment in the livelihood of Rock County. I believe in this community and want to support it in all I do. 
  • What’s your favorite type of activity or exhibit in a children’s museum? This is a tough question, because different activities and exhibits connect with different types of children! Some children are drawn to dramatic play that lets them imagine themselves driving an excavator through a construction site, for example, while others love exhibits with pieces and parts that can be dissasembled and put back together. Some children love to get their hands covered in paint and create their visions on glass or paper, while others love the opportunity to jump on a playset or disco dance floor with other children. My favorite activities let children free-play with a variety of objects and scenarios, in which they’re inspired to roam around their exquisite imaginations.

susan Duffy

Treasurer

  • Education: B.A. Marketing from UW-Whitewater. 
  • Current Career Position: Stay-at-home parent and substitute teacher
  • How long have you lived in Rock County? After graduating from UW-Whitewater, I lived in Rock County from 2006-2011.  My family and I returned to Rock County in 2018.
  • What inspires you? Change inspires me.  I try to embrace the growth that comes along when life throws a few curve balls my way.  My son also inspires me.  Knowing that someone is watching and learning from me every day makes me want to be great.
  • Why did you volunteer to be a board member?  I volunteered to be a board member because I think a children’s museum in Rock County is a FANTASTIC idea!  As a parent to a busy toddler, children’s museums hold a special place in my heart.  Learning through play is such an important part of a child’s development and I’m excited to help bring that to Rock County. 
  • What’s your favorite type of activity or exhibit in a children’s museum? It’s hard to name just one!  My family is pretty active so we really enjoy exhibits that allow us to climb and move our bodies while learning.

oLIVIA MCCARTHY

Board Member

  • Education: B.A. Public Relations from UW- Eau Claire.  J. D. from University of Wisconsin Law School.
  • Current Career Position: Associate Attorney at Blitch Westley Barrette, S.C.
  • How long have you lived in Rock County? 22 years. I was born and raised in Rock County and I returned not long after graduating from college.
  • What inspires you? Learning and education. I love to learn and I take every opportunity I can to learn something new. I think that learning expands beyond formal educational settings and we can learn something from every person we meet.
  • Why did you volunteer to be a board member? I really want to get involved and give back to my community. Being a mother is a large part of my identity and I was excited that I could converge my formal training in PR and law with that piece of my identity. I also think that a children’s museum will be an important asset to Rock County and is something our community is lacking.
  • What’s your favorite type of activity or exhibit in a children’s museum? I enjoy any activity that mimics the “real world”- farm exhibits, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. I love watching as kids make the connection as they play and imagine

John Westphal

Board Member

John Westphal, Janesville son and CEO of Westphal & Co. Inc., will Chair the Governance Committee.

John was involved in the original formation of the Children’s Museum in 2007-2008. He’s served on many non-profit Boards and is a champion of community stewardship; notably, as a founding member of the Board of Directors for JPAC, a former member of City Council, a founder of the Town Square Gran Prix, a supporter of HealthNet and Rock County Historical Society, and so much more.

John brings his veteran leadership and invaluable insight and experience to the Board as a mentor for the next generation of leaders. He has already contributed to CMRC’s renewed efforts as a sponsor of Giving Tuesday and Rock The Solar System, and in strategy meetings to navigate the organization’s growth. Welcome, John!

Why did you volunteer to be a Board Member?

I was a member of the exploratory committee in 2007-2008 that evaluated the construction of a children’s museum in Rock County. We put the project on the back burner in 2008, given the negative changes to our local economy at that time.

I was excited to learn that a new group of energetic and passionate supporters plan to bring this project to fruition now.

Improving the quality of life in my home county and home town have always been very important to me. With my efforts, time, and money, I strongly support those projects that enhance our communities and our downtowns.

The Children’s Museum of Rock County is just such a project, and it should be at the top of the list for anyone committed to making their community better.