Rob Cassetti, the creative way

2020 has been a monumental year. There have certainly been times of difficulty, but also moments of innovation and progress. And for some, that change has been positive, a steppingstone to new roads and new adventures. This is certainly true for Rob Cassetti, who announces his retirement from The Corning Museum of Glass after more than 20 years of service.

A career of creative excellence is something we can all strive to achieve. For Rob, that endeavor has been essential; it’s a deeply rooted way of thinking, a calling, and a joy for him to practice. It’s the only way his brain works. Rob’s professional life has been one steeped in creative people, energy, places, and experiences, and for many of these moments, he has been the instigator, the spark that brought it all together.

It’s no surprise then, that Rob is just as comfortable on the stage with a microphone in his hand as he is in a board meeting, and he’s just as sure-footed on the rolling deck of the GlassBarge as he is walking through the galleries with a group of captivated listeners in tow. His institutional knowledge is second to none and his ability to insert himself into any number of strange and exciting situations is a gift.

Rob on the deck of the first iteration of GlassBarge, 2017.

Rob first joined the Museum in 1999, after working with Corning Inc. for 12 years where he helped shape the Steuben brand. The turn of the millennium was a pivotal time in the Museum’s history and the beginnings of Rob’s influence on the institution’s burgeoning look and feel. With career jumps across many different departments and ascendency to Senior Director in 2007, Rob has acquired a level of recognition that many can only aspire to.

For a more detailed biography of Rob’s career, please see our website here.

A presence like Rob’s will be greatly missed at our Museum, so much so that we’ve convinced him to continue for a few hours each week as he enters his retirement. But his absence will also be felt across New York state where he has helped shape so many other institutions, not least of all The Museum Association of New York, where Rob once served as the President of the Board of Trustees.

Colleagues near and far have shared some memories and parting words as we say, if only temporarily, farewell to Rob Cassetti.

Karol Wight, president and executive director, Corning Museum of Glass

“During the course of my career I have only encountered two individuals who focused their thought and attention on ensuring that our public and working environment met the highest standards of design, and Rob was one of them. He’s always been labeled ‘Mr. Look and Feel’, and that was true. Since I also love design and architecture, these two elements of our collaborative work at CMoG were always richly rewarding for me. Rob has contributed innumerable things to our institution, as I’m sure many others will offer up in their remembrances, but for me, that shared joy at something intelligently and beautifully well designed is what I will remember the most.”

From left to right: Alan Eusden, Jeff Evenson of Corning Incorporated, Karol Wight, and Rob Cassetti, 2018.

Alan Eusden, chief operating officer, Corning Museum of Glass

“Rob leaves a stunning legacy, centered on his role in making CMoG what it is today. He developed and championed initiatives that have fundamentally transformed the public profile and dramatically expanded the impact and awareness of the Museum. His vision can be seen in all aspects of the Museum, from the Admissions Lobby to the Innovation Center to the Contemporary Art and Design Wing, along with all our global hot glass programs on land and water. He was also instrumental in helping develop the creative vision for our branding, marketing campaigns, and in designing systems to understand and react to our guests’ level of satisfaction. I delighted in working with Rob, as his out of the box thinking challenged me to think very broadly and very differently. When presented with a challenge, Rob had the special gift of being able to develop a solution that more than met the needs of all involved. I will miss Rob’s innovation and big ideas, as well as the personal challenge of occasionally having to reign him in. All the best to Rob in this next stage of his life!”

Beth Duane, chief marketing and communications office, Corning Museum of Glass

Rob and Beth onboard the GlassBarge, 2018.

“No one can tell a story quite like Rob! His passion for glass as a material, combined with his engaging storytelling, made for a spectacular combination that has delighted and educated those fortunate to cross paths with him. He is passionate, relentless, ambitious, determined, and resilient. And he knows his strengths. But he also recognized the need to surround himself with those who worried about timelines and deadlines so he wouldn’t have to occupy his thoughts with those “annoyances.” The depth of Rob’s impact on the Museum is vast. And on me? Immeasurable. It’s hard to describe the influence Rob has had on me. Teacher, coach, mentor, advocate, collaborator, confidant, therapist, and friend. Rob hired me in 2001. Little did I know then, the glorious adventure we were embarking upon. From the highest of highs to the most challenging of times, Rob led with style, grace, and a touch of personal flair. He challenged me. He pushed me out of my comfort zone, and instilled confidence in me. I loved our conversations where there were no rules and no end to the possibilities. Rob didn’t see obstacles. He saw opportunities. And then inspired others to seize those opportunities. I, for one, will forever be grateful.”

Eric Meek, senior manager, hot glass programs, Corning Museum of Glass

“It takes a special leader to leave an indelible mark on the way you approach your own career. When I first started working for the Hot Glass Team in 2001, I knew I was part of something special. As a young glassmaker, it was easy to believe that was because of the Museum’s collection, the constant flow of amazing artists coming through, the history and traditions of this town.  It was less clear then, but so clear now as Rob Cassetti’s career comes to a close, that while all of that matters, it was the presence of the driving force of his creative vision that has made all the difference. Working under the influence of a leader who believes we can achieve amazing things and empowers his team to do their best work has shown me what it takes to inspire greatness.  Listing Rob’s accomplishments would be truly impressive, the Museum is forever changed for the better because of him. It has been my honor to help Rob realize some of those accomplishments, but my greatest tribute will be to carry his love for the Museum and his “let’s make it happen” positivity forward through my career.”

Kim Thompson, manager of PR and special media projects, Corning Museum of Glass

“Rob’s ideas are legendary. As the Museum’s PR manager, I had the distinct pleasure of promoting the out-of-the-box, larger-than-life, and seemingly impossible yet absolutely captivating projects that tumbled out of Rob’s imagination and into reality. He’s never been afraid to push the limits as he evangelizes the “power and potential” of glass: a material that has played a central role in his life. And that’s exactly what Rob brought to the Museum: power, potential, and unyielding passion. Ever the inspiration, Rob encouraged those around him to dream as big as he did—and he supported them every step of the way. I will deeply miss working with him but will always be grateful that I spent some time in his wonderfully creative orbit.”

Nedra Jumper, former hot glass projects specialist and assistant to Rob, Corning Museum of Glass, retired

“It was a great pleasure and opportunity to get to know and work with Rob for 25 years. He brought a creative vision and unique perspective that helped put CMoG on the global map, with a constant focus on taking the Museum to the next level while “telling the world about glass.” In retiring, Rob leaves a lasting legacy that will carry on through the Museum’s architecture and strategic vision for success.”

Nedra and Rob during Nedra’s retirement party, 2019.

Steven Bender, Steuben business manager, Steuben

“Rob’s long history as a Steuben designer and head of the Steuben Design Department, followed by his tenure at the Museum, made him a strong advocate for the resurrection of the Steuben brand under CMoG’s direction. His efforts behind the scenes, particularly in the selection of new and reintroduced designs, helped propel the brand forward in a new and meaningful way. His thoughtful guidance and mentorship will be greatly missed.”

Erika Sanger, executive director, Museum Association of New York (MANY)

“In his time on the board of directors and as board president of MANY, Rob Cassetti dedicated countless hours to build, enhance, and advance New York’s museum field by sharing his vision and organizational insight with thousands of colleagues. He helped MANY grow by expanding membership, reshaping the annual conference, aligning the organization with tourism and industry partners, and passionately advocating for NY’s museums with legislative representatives on local, regional, state, and national levels. We congratulate him on his retirement from CMoG and wish him well, knowing that his creative leadership and gracious generosity will continue to benefit our museum community for years to come.”

Brian Lee Whisenhunt, executive director, The Rockwell Museum

“Working with Rob on the creative strategy and marketing for The Rockwell Museum has been—and continues to be—a thrilling, imaginative journey. As one of our biggest cheerleaders, Rob always brings an inquisitive enthusiasm to our ideas, work, and collaborations. He energizes the staff and spurs us onto the next idea, program, event, or concept that will connect our visitors to art about the American experience. Rob is a true friend to the Museum and is always considering the most appropriate context, choicest partners, and clearest perspective on our work.”

Rob’s last day at the Museum will be Friday, October 16th.

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