Jill Knowland Rapposelli, 50, is charged with leading the museum’s operations, educational programs and capital campaigns.
Rapposelli, a Piedmont resident, was previously with Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center, where she served as Chief Operating Officer for the past 10 years.
A media advisory from the museum stressed Rapposelli’s status as first female Executive Director. Asked about that, she told Action Alameda News, “It shows how far we’ve come with women in executive roles. Here at the Hornet we emphasize Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, and for women with STEM backgrounds, there are no limits any more. So I feel that this really has significance in today’s business world. There are more women leaders because we educate our girls about that possibility.”
And the Hornet has an engineering problem—the flight deck is leaking, allowing rainwater into the ship.
Scott Zirger, director of operations for the museum, took Action Alameda News on a tour of the ship to show how water is penetrating the wooden flight deck, rusting the underlying steel sheathing and finding it’s way into key attractions such as the captains spacious in-port cabin, and even several decks below.
Past attempts to apply caulking to the gaps between the teak planks on the outer deck have merely been band-aids.
A priority for Rapposelli will be raising a final $130,000 for the Hornet Heritage Fund, announced early this year.
That amount will take the fund to $550,000, upon which a large regional foundation—Hornet officials won’t name it— will kick in another $250,000, bringing the total to $800,000.
The Heritage Fund is being used to repair the 100,000 square foot flight deck, and two aircraft elevators. Visitors to the ship can see where work applying a sealant to the deck has already begun.
Beyond immediately addressing deferred maintenance, Rapposelli is looking to leverage an Office of Naval Research grant for STEM curriculum to go ashore and expand programs into the community and to local schools.
“Sometimes it might be harder for schools to come to us, whether it be transportation issues or location issues. We could touch more children if we could take our programs out to the schools, with the history and STEM education programs we are developing,” she said.
The Hornet’s history curricula are based on “California Educational Standards” and the museum’s STEM programs are similarly based on the new “California Next-Generation Science Standards.”
Told that the City of Alameda has been accumulating a fund for Public Access, Educational and Government local cable television programming, Rapposelli pulled out her phone and made some notes.