Please Touch Museum president and CEO Laura Foster is stepping down. Foster, leader of the museum for five years, said Tuesday that it was a good time for her to move on.
"I want to do some new things," she said. "I want to spend time with my new grandchild. Twenty-two years is a long time," she said, referring to her tenure at the museum, where she initially served as director of development and marketing.
Foster said she was not sure what her next career move would be. Her contract is up in November. How much longer she will stay has not been determined, said board chair Sally W. Stetson.
"She's had a great run. We've been talking about this for the past couple of months," said Stetson. "The museum is more than a full-time job, and at this point, she wants to do something that allows her a little more flexibility with her schedule."
Please Touch is struggling to raise money to cover debt payments due in coming years related to its 2008 move to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. A $30 million fund-raising campaign that would go toward debt and further repairs to the 1876 structure has just gotten under way.
Proceeds would cover only a portion of the debt payments, which this year total $3.85 million and are scheduled to grow about $90,000 annually, topping out at $5.65 million by 2036.
The decision to move from a small facility behind the Franklin Institute to grander quarters in Fairmount Park was made during the tenure of Foster's predecessor, Nancy Kolb.
Stetson said a search for Foster's successor - the fourth chief executive in the museum's 37-year history - will begin shortly and will be national in scope. "You want to find the best new leader," she said, "to continue to make the museum bigger and better."