The Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards are presented to ASTC members and/or their staff and volunteers in recognition of extraordinary accomplishments that not only enhance the performance of their own organizations, but also significantly advance our field.
The awards are named in honor of Roy L. Shafer, a former ASTC board chair who served as president and CEO of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio. After his death, the ASTC Board of Directors named the Leading Edge Awards for Shafer in tribute to his progressive thinking, dynamic leadership, and devotion to our profession. See below for more information about Shafer.
For 2023, ASTC will again consider nominations in five categories, four of which recognize achievements by organizations, and one by an individual.
These awards will consider separately nominations from large institutions (annual operating expenses equal to or exceeding $3 million for the most recent fiscal year), small institutions (annual operating expenses less than $3 million for the most recent fiscal year), and Allied Members.
Each nominating institution is limited to one nomination per category per year—and the same achievement should only be nominated in a single category. Nomination forms must be signed by the organization’s chief executive officer, board chair, or equivalent.
- Business Practice. Recognizing outstanding accomplishments in the administration and financial sustainability of ASTC-member organizations. This includes—but is not limited to—revenue generation, marketing, public relations, fundraising, human resources, operations, and partnerships.
Nominations will be judged according to how the business practice has achieved a tangible impact and lasting effect on the institution’s business efficiency and effectiveness; applies and demonstrates new ideas and best practices for the field as a whole; and embodies ASTC’s commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity.
- Community Service. Recognizing outstanding accomplishments in addressing the needs of the member’s community, which can be defined as a geographic area but can also refer to other characteristics, interests, or goals shared by a group of individuals. The focus of this award is on service to the community beyond the STEM engagement mission central to the organization.
Nominations will be judged according to how the organization addressed an important community need or priority; the creativity of the program or activity described; the potential to serve as a model of creative thinking and best practices for the field as a whole, and embodiment of ASTC’s commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity.
- Resilience. Recognizing organizations that have overcome a significant and specific challenge with a focus on how the institution approached the hardship to achieve new life, mission, and potential. This includes—but is not limited to—finances, staff, physical space, or community involvement.
Nominations will be judged according to how the organization faced the adversity, steps that it took to address the challenge, the outcome or current status, the potential to serve as a model of creative thinking and best practices for the field as a whole, and embodiment of ASTC’s commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity.
- Visitor Experience. Recognizing outstanding accomplishments in the visitor experience. This includes—but is not limited to—exhibitions, education programs, technology applications, theater and film programming, visitor services, research, and evaluation.
Nominations will be judged according to the visitor experience’s unique application of new ideas and promising practices, demonstrating creativity and extraordinary performance; its role in furthering the institution’s mission by achieving a tangible impact or lasting effect on visitor experience; the potential to serve as a model of creative thinking and best practices for the field as a whole; and embodiment of ASTC’s commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity
- Individual Leadership. Recognizing extraordinary accomplishments in a leadership role for the individual’s organization and/or the field as a whole. This includes—but is not limited to—leadership in developing and applying new ideas and/or enhancing best practices. The award recognizes leadership, regardless of professional position or supervisory status, and we encourage nominations across the entire breadth of an organization’s team.
The committee will consider separately those serving in a chief executive role (i.e., CEO, Executive Director, President), other formal leaders not in CEO roles, and those demonstrating leadership regardless of title or job level. Nominations of staff at all levels—from volunteer to front-line to chief executive—are all encouraged, including those new to the field.
Nominations will be judged according to the individual’s degree of success at developing and/or implementing new ideas and/or enhancing best practices; having a tangible and lasting impact on the organization’s mission and/or operations; building relationships within or beyond the organization; developing the current talents/capabilities and nurturing the capacity of staff; the potential to serve as a model of creative thinking and best practices for the field as a whole; and embodiment of ASTC’s commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity.
Please note that nominations should focus on leadership qualities beyond a specific project or activity. Leadership in the context of a specific project may, instead, be appropriate in one of the organizational award categories. As such, please avoid submitting a nomination for individual leadership for a project that is also nominated in another category. Self nominations are not allowed in this category.
Leading Edge Awards may be presented to ASTC-member organizations in good standing—and their staff and volunteers. This includes both Science and Museum Members and Allied Members. Organizations may submit nominations on behalf of their own achievements or for another ASTC-member organization. Self-nominations are welcome in all categories with the exception of Individual Leadership (though the nominator may still be from the same organization).
Nominations describing collaborations among ASTC-member organizations—including partnerships between science centers and Allied Members are also eligible and encouraged.
Nominations should describe an achievement that has occurred since January 1, 2021.
The ASTC Awards Committee will review all eligible nominations and select award recipients. The committee is made up of individuals from ASTC-member organizations who are knowledgeable about our field and represent a broad spectrum of ASTC’s global membership. Those interested in being considered for the Awards Committee should complete the volunteer interest form on the ASTC website.
Members of the Awards Committee will not be involved in the review of nominations from their own organization.
Award recipients will be honored at the ASTC Annual Conference and other relevant in-person and virtual events. Each will receive an “Edgie” award to display at their organization as well as a special award winner logo to display on their website or other promotional material. Awardees will also be recognized on the ASTC website and in a press release and will receive one free full registration to the ASTC 2023 Annual Conference.
Nominations will open on or around June 13, 2023.
Nominations for all categories are due by 11:59 pm ET on Monday, July 10, 2023.
Nominations must be submitted on the ASTC awards portal, which can be accessed at https://astc.slayte.com/. Nominators must have a valid myASTC account to submit.
Awards will be presented at the ASTC 2023 Annual Conference October 7–10 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and be celebrated throughout the year.
About Roy L. Shafer
Roy Shafer’s science center career began in the 1960s, when he first volunteered at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio. He soon became an important figure at the museum, founding its camp-in program and eventually serving for 13 years as COSI’s president and CEO. Shafer was a member of the ASTC Board of Directors for 11 years, including two years as president. After he started his own consulting firm, the Roy L. Shafer Company, he became ASTC’s organizational coach, helping the association to develop its mission, strategic plan, and core values and objectives. ASTC honored him in 1999 with the ASTC Fellow Award for Outstanding Contribution. After his death, the ASTC Board of Directors named the Leading Edge Awards for Shafer in tribute to his progressive thinking, dynamic leadership, and devotion to our profession.
Past Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2022 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2019 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2018 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2017 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2016 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2015 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2014 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2013 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2012 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2011 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2010 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2009 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2008 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2007 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2006 Leading Edge Award Recipients
- 2005 Leading Edge Award Recipients
2019 Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards Jury
Chair: Jonah Cohen, Manager of Science Education, McWane Science Center, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
- Adrienne Barnett, Associate Director of Programs, Thinkery, Austin, Texas, United States
- Daniel Bateman, Exploration Place, Wichita, Kansas, United States
- Toph Bryant, Visitor Services Senior Manager, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville, Kentucky, United States
- Irena Cieślińska, Deputy Director, Copernicus Science Centre, Warsaw, Poland
- Andrea Durham, Vice President, Exhibits, Facilities, and Digital Initiatives, Science World British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Pody Gay, Director, Discovery Network, Museum of Discovery, Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
- Christian Greer, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
- Eric Godoy, Partnership Programs Coordinator, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, Colorado, United States
- Ali Jackson, Director of National Collaborations, Sciencenter, Ithaca, New York, United States
- Clara Chien Hui Lim, Head of Interpretation, Qatar Children’s Museum, Science Centre Singapore, Singapore
- Megan Ramer, Public Programs Manager, Connecticut Science Center, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
- Jeff Rosenblatt, Director, Science City, Kansas City’s Science Center, Kansas City, Missouri, United States
- Meghan Schiedel, Curriculum Developer, Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, Reno, Nevada, United States
- Janella Watson, Associate Director, Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, Rhode Island, United States
- Tifferney White, Chief Learning Officer, Discovery Place, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
ASTC Staff Liaison: Todd Happer