Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Natural History Museums of LA County Announces Board Leadership Changes; Heather de Roos to Lead Board

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC), announced a slate of new volunteer leaders for the Museums’ Board of Trustees and Board of Governors for the next fiscal year, effective July 1, 2021.

Heather de Roos has been named Board of Trustees President, succeeding Shannon Faulk, who has served as Board of Trustees President for four years and will become Board of Trustees Chair. Megan McGowan Epstein has been named Board of Trustees Vice President. Kermit Crawford has been named a new Board of Trustees member and Naomi Rainey-Pierson has been elected to the NHMLAC Board of Governors by 4th District Supervisor, Janice Hahn. Sarah Meeker Jensen, FAIA, former Board President and most recently Board Chair, will no longer be an officer on the Board.

“NHMLAC is incredibly fortunate to have a Board of Trustees with an inspiring vision, boundless enthusiasm and a progressive commitment to building and uplifting community through our lens of nature and culture,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director. “We could not have gotten through this past year without their fearless and steadfast leadership. In partnership with Heather, Shannon, Megan and our new members, we join our county in recovery and reopening, and are filled with optimism and excitement as we discover new ways to bring our mission to life, as museums of, for, and with Los Angeles.”

De Roos has served on NHMLAC’s Board of Trustees since 2012 and served as Vice President of the Board from September 2019 through June 2021. (Full disclosure: This writer served with her on the NHM board). She follows a family tradition of service to NHMLAC where her father, Kevin W. Sharer, served as Board President leading a major renovation of the Exposition Park facility that included three major exhibition halls.

“He’s been very encouraging,” de Roos told the Buzz. She also serves as Director of The Carol H. and Kevin W. Sharer Education Foundation which has recently started a scholarships program to provide assistance to community college students who are transitioning to four year universities.

Initially, de Roos said she was hesitant to step into the role she felt her predecessor Shannon Faulk had so ably filled; but she’s more comfortable now as she should be. De Roos is hard working, hands on board member with a great deal of experience.  She also serves on the board of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation and as Vice President of Fundraising for scholarships for the Neptunian Woman’s Club as well as the PTA President for Mira Costa High School.

She laughed when we suggested that serving as the PTA president is one of the hardest jobs we’ve ever done!

“Yeah, it’s nice to coming into a meeting and seeing the food already set up,” she joked.

While it’s a challenging time, De Roos said she was very excited to be leading the effort to re-open the museum to visitors after was closed for so long due to the pandemic.

“We are fortunate to have donors and the leadership of the County of Los Angeles that support our mission so we are close to regaining our earned income back in the form of tickets sales and revenue from our shops and cafe back to pre-pandemic levels,” said de Roos. She’s hoping that people will respond to new membership effort and news of an exhibit coming this fall on Jane Goodall’s life and work. De Roos said Goodall is planning to visit, noting that her work is perfectly aligned with the museum’s mission of inspiring the next generation of scientists.

“Fortunately, we were able to maintain all our staff thanks to shuttered venue grants, the continued support of the county and our endowment,” said de Roos. “The silver lining to this pandemic has been that we have been able to bring the museum to so many people. We have really begun to balance ourselves from purely location based institution to have really having a larger digital presence. Because of the virtual programing we and the mobile museum we added, we have really improved our outreach beyond our walls and I am really proud of that.”

De Roos is also proud to lead an increasingly more diverse board with the addition Naomi Rainey-Pierson, appointed as an NHMLAC Governor by Fourth District Supervisor, Janice Hahn, and will begin in July 2021. Rainey-Pierson was sworn into the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners in October 2020 by Mayor Robert Garcia, and is an award-winning educator, philanthropist, entrepreneur and civil rights activist who works with thousands of community members, including many at-risk children. She previously served as Vice President of the California State Conference NAACP and has served as president of the NAACP’s Long Beach Branch since 2000. Rainey-Pierson holds a Bachelor of Arts from California State University, Long Beach in theatre arts, as well as two master’s degrees in education, and several teaching credentials. She also has certifications in cultural diversity and human relations.

Also joining the board as a trustee is Kermit Crawford. He served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Rite Aid Corporation from 2017 to 2019 and was an Operating Partner and Advisor with private equity firm Sycamore Partners from 2015 to 2017. He retired from Walgreens as Executive Vice President and President of Pharmacy, Health and Wellness Division in 2014 after 30 years at the company. Crawford holds a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Faulk who has served on NHMLAC’s Board since 2008, when he was appointed by then Second District Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke to the Board of Governors will now serve as Chairman of the Board.

“We have a very active effort to increase inclusion and diversity of the museum’s staff and leadership,” said de Roos. We want to have the most welcoming and inclusive environment that we can for the community.”

Before the end of the year, the museum will break ground on The Commons, a new welcome center on the southwest side of the museum grounds in Exposition Park. The plan is to be ready for opening of the Lucas Museum which will draw more visitors to Exposition Park and NHMLAC hopes they will walk across the street and check out the museum as well.

“This will be a new programming area for the museum where people can visit without a ticket, ” explained de Roos. The project called for a renovation of the current theatre, a new cafe and landscaped gardens designed by Studio-MLA who also designed the Museum’s Nature Gardens.

Plans are also underway to reimagine the Tar Pits Museum in Hancock Park.  Recently, the museum completed its masterplanning process for the project which included extensive community outreach. De Roos will be leading the effort to gather funding support for the project.

“I am very proud of community involvement,” said de Roos. “That is exactly the kind of approach I want us to continue to take. We see the Tar Pits Museum as a center for science and the community. It’s a historic site and it needs to be handled appropriately. It’s going to take a lot of support but it’s a great opportunity to exhibit more of our amazing collection, the majority of which is not currently on display.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }