Amarinda Keys

Noble High School, 2010
Colby College, 2014
Current town: Sidney

“Experiment! Try things out! Four years fly by.”

Amarinda’s enthusiasm helped her land her current role with the Children’s Discovery Museum, where she is the world’s youngest Executive Director of a children’s museum. Though the museum closed their Augusta space over the spring, ending a 27-year run, they are working hard on a new space in Waterville, with a planned opening for the end of the year. Amarinda has also taken full advantage of Mitchell Institute resources, using Fellowship Awards to tour children’s museums around New England and attend an annual conference for museum professionals.

Tell us about your current role: how long have you been there, what parts of it do you like most, and why do you do what you do?
I started volunteering with the Children's Discovery Museum in college and was hired as Assistant Director after graduation, then quickly promoted to Executive Director, where I’ve been for five years now. I love working with kids, and always have. After realizing I didn’t want to be a classroom teacher, I got interested in the museum world through internships and volunteer roles; it offers a chance to engage with kids in a hands-on learning environment without the same pressures that teaching has. It’s so rewarding to see kids having fun and families and community getting involved. It’s been challenging to run a business in an economically depressed area, especially without a business degree, and there’s been a lot of learning on the ground, but there’s also a huge opportunity to add value to the central Maine area. I’m so lucky to be somewhere that encourages young leaders, and to be able to take advantage of that. This job has been a great fit. My vision and new ideas have been welcome here, and as the Executive Director I’m able to create the museum I envision for my community. Not everyone can say they love their job as much!

Why do you live in Maine, what do you like about it, and what’s it like running a business here?
I hadn’t originally planned to stay in Maine after graduation. I thought I’d leave the state for a while before returning, but this opportunity [the Executive Director position] was too good to pass up. I’d always wanted to settle here eventually—my parents are still here, I love the state, and I’m happy to be here. The way the timing worked out, I just ended up skipping the “away” part! There’s such opportunity for young people in Maine, especially in central Maine, and I’ve been fortunate to develop a supportive network of other young leaders in the area.