The Kansas Children's Discovery Center is run by a staff of experienced professionals who know how to have serious fun at work. From building exhibits, to running programs, to keeping our facility clean and safe, visitors can count on our staff to provide a memorable, educational experience.
Dené Mosier, President/CEO
(785) 783-8300, ext 102
Dené has led the museum since 2015. As a former preschool and elementary school teacher and administrator, she brings extensive experience in child development and managing educators to her role overseeing exhibits and programs. Under her leadership, the Discovery Center has grown and thrived as the premier children's museum in Kansas. Read more about Dené.
Caitlin Luttjohann, Vice President of Play and Learning
(785) 783-8300, ext 110
Caitlin designs educational programs and manages all aspects of the visitor experience at the museum. She has a degree in industrial engineering and came to the Discovery Center from the Flint Hills Discovery Center, where she was the Education Specialist for Science. She is passionate about teaching kids how to solve problems with science and is a favorite of teachers and students for her ability to make field trips fun and engaging.
Marty Hillard, Director of Community Engagement
Marty is an experienced community organizer with a background in nonprofit development, group facilitation, content creation, and copywriting. Marty's role as the Director of Community Outreach involves expanding the museum's reach both through museum programming and community-based events to give all families the opportunities for play. Marty is a a husband, father, son, and brother living in Topeka.
Laura Burton, Director Marketing and Development
Laura is a nonprofit marketing, communications and fundraising professional responsible for educating the public about the Discovery Center's work. In her role, she develops partnerships to help build the museum as a regional tourist attraction and educational resource for all families. She is a mother of two young children and a big LEGO fan.
Draque Carver, Exhibit and Facilities Maintenance Manager
Draque has been with the Discovery Center since 2014 and is responsible for facility and exhibit construction and maintenance. He came to the museum with 35 years of experience in construction. The Discovery Center puts his expertise to work in a wide range of unconventional projects, from a realistic life-size pizza oven, to welded butterfly chairs, to giant ruby red slippers.
Karen Estrada, Hospitality Coordinator
Karen joined the team in 2021 following over a decade as a nonprofit administrative professional. At the Discovery Center, Karen is the primary team member at the front desk, greeting families from all over the world who visit the museum. Her favorite childhood toy was her Lite Brite, and she loves the oversized version in the museum!
Abby Hersh, Exhibit and Guest Experience Coordinator
A film school graduate, former Los Angeles resident and Topeka native, Abby dreams of providing immersive, interactive guest experiences of the highest quality to families; cultivating shared moments that become cherished memories. Abby draws from an extensive customer service background and passion for visual aesthetics to help heighten visitor experiences, exhibits and facilities.
Chester Solack, Hospitality Coordinator
Chester comes to the Discovery Center with a background in customer service and hospitality. He is a US Army veteran and his role at the museum includes welcoming visitors and managing the Discovery Shop. Playing with Legos as a child allowed his creativity and imagination to grow. He still loves toys, and is known at the museum for his amazing reactions to unboxing new gift shop merchandise.
Sydni Meehan, Volunteer & Play Coordinator
Sydni comes to the Discovery Center with a background in hospitality and tourism. Her role at the museum includes engaging with visitors and managing the museum's robust volunteer program. She loves playing with Lincoln Logs and has a way of ending up in the Discovery Center pond.
Other members of our fantastic team of play experts include Gina Taddiken, Emma Jarvis, Carolyn Parker, Treva Summers, Ariawna Thompson and Robert Turner.
Special Guest Educators and Contractors
Farai Harreld is a post-partum doula, folk herbalist, urban homesteader, writer and caregiver. She was born in Zimbabwe, raised in Botswana, and currently living and loving in Kaw and Osage land in so-called Kansas. Her passions include empowering people to build community and reclaim simple herbal medicine as their birthright.
Farai derives joy and connection to her ancestors through handwork. She is a freelance writer and educator on topics ranging from plants, motherhood, food, race, fashion, gardening and much more. Find her over at @thehillbillyafrican on Instagram or at Faraiharreld.com.
Megan is a business and finance contractor at the Discovery Center. Megan holds a B.A. in Psychology from Benedictine College in addition to a a J.D. and M.B.A from KU. Their diverse interests include board games, power lifting, rugby and Avengers movie marathons.
Kathy Damron has been a long-time yoga student and teacher in the Topeka area. She received specialized children's yoga teacher training from Yoki Yoga in Miami, Fla., a program designed to foster optimal health, social and emotional development and learning, utilizing yoga techniques for children, teachers, parents and caregivers. In addition, she is a Yoga Alliance-certified instructor, having successfully completed her 200-hour teacher training from Om Tree Shala in Lawrence, Kan. Most recently, she's begun studying for advanced 500-hour certification with Yoga Medicine, a world-renowned program focused on understanding the body from the western viewpoint and applying the principles of traditional yoga. In addition to bringing yoga to families at the Kansas Children's Discovery Center, Kathy serves children, families and other small groups at various locations in Topeka and Lawrence.
Erin Forstein has her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Washburn University, and has been a preschool teacher since 2005 in both public and private school settings. She has played the violin for 39 years and has taught lessons to children of all ages (2 to mid 70s) for 28 years, and is currently the Director of Religious Exploration for her church. As a mom of three children, she enjoys outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking and swimming, as well as exploring every science center and museum she can find! She loves all things science, with dinosaurs, outer-space and the biodiversity of the ocean tying for the top three! She also enjoys creating various types of jewelry in her spare time.
The little prairie out front is a tallgrass prairie restoration project started with the Discovery Center by its founding members. Vivien Smith began as volunteer prairie manager in 2014, along with a small group of dedicated native plant folks (the prairie people) to give kids a place to discover insects, birds, small mammals and reptiles, and of course, plants native to Kansas, in a safe, educational setting. Vivien has a degree in Horticulture from Kansas State, is the treasurer for the Topeka Audubon Society and loves tagging monarch butterflies every fall.
Kansas Ballet is an equal-opportunity, nonprofit organization committed to serving a diverse population. With hundreds of free performances and site-specific Ballet Stars programs promoting academic readiness and soft skills, we help turn big dreams into reality for youth across Topeka. Research shows that classical ballet supports and enhances academic performance in all students. It also has been found to improve balance, posture, self-esteem, memory capacity, the sense of self in space and the skills needed to be more aware of others. Classical ballet brings out and underscores any child’s best qualities and it is our privilege to share the joy of dance with friends of all ages at the Kansas Children's Discovery Center. Meet our teachers at Faculty - Kansas Ballet.