Alan Eusden joined the Museum in September 2014 as chief operating officer, leading the Museum’s business operations with a strong emphasis on earned revenue and visitation. He comes to the Museum from Corning Incorporated where he led several key businesses. Alan has also been active in numerous regional non-profits, serving on the boards of Elmira College, Southern Tier Network and the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan.
I sat down with Alan recently to learn more about him and about what he hopes to bring to The Corning Museum of Glass.
Most recently, you were head of Corning’s Display Technologies in Taiwan. What brings you now to The Corning Museum of Glass?
I retired as planned from Corning Incorporated, but I didn’t want to completely stop working. I wanted to be a part of a significant non-profit; be on a non-profit board of trustees and give back to the community. When [Museum board members] Karol Wight, Marie McKee, and Jim Flaws approached me to talk about this specific position, it was extremely interesting because this is such a stunningly successful non-profit.
This museum has become an integral part of the community and has a national, if not even a global, reach. On a personal level, the Museum allows me to become part of a broader artistic community.
But you aren’t completely new to the Museum. You were a member of our high-end donor group, the Ennion Society, before you started working at the Museum.
Marie has done this with many local Ennion society members, getting them to join to support a strong local non-profit, which leads to long-term support because of everything the Museum represents.
Talk about being the first chief operating officer of the Museum. What do you hope to accomplish?
I have three high-level goals. The first is to continue this impressive track record of success that Marie has led. The second is to help drive Karol’s key strategic initiatives and her vision for this museum. And the third is to help this organization to continue to succeed by investing in our people and by making sure the people themselves are being given the opportunity to grow and to succeed within this environment.
At the next level down, I look at us in terms of our people, our costs, our numbers of visitors, and simply the size of the enterprise. Clearly one of my other key goals is to help us run smoothly, to anticipate our growth, and to make sure we are doing all we can to delight our visitors.
Is there anything that surprised you or that fascinated you in the short time you’ve been here?
The thing that probably has surprised (and pleased) me the most is the excitement and the passion that people have for their jobs.
It’s also really interesting to hear about how people got here. A few people are here because it was a job. Some are here because they found an opportunity that matched their skill sets. Even more are here because they love museums, or they love glass art, or they’ve been involved with glass in a variety of other ways.
We have quite a few artists who see this as a great way to have two synergistic career paths: one within a ‘business’ structure and the other where they follow their artistic calling. I love the varied career paths and the resulting commitment to, and passion for, the Museum
It sounds like you have a passion for giving back to the community. Why is this important to you?
I’ve always tried to give back to the community and I’ve done that through my involvement with non-profits and through my support of organizations that help the community. My extended family is a family of caregivers, social workers, professors and people that work in universities or other support-giving or developmental areas. I want to continue that tradition and now I have a much bigger and much better chance to be able to focus on that.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I spend a lot of my time with extended family whether travelling to New England to see our immediate family or at holidays and special events. I also enjoy group sporting activities like bike riding and cross country skiing. I will often stop by the YMCA where I frequently see Museum employees. My wife and I appreciate finding excellent restaurants and are willing to travel a little to enjoy them. There is a certain Studio leader who is intent on getting me to learn how to make glass, and I am very appreciative of her early efforts!