Exploris loses fundraiser – Museum eyes $8.5M drive

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Paul Velaski, director of development at the financially troubled Exploris children’s museum in Raleigh, has been named vice president for national operations at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America in Phoenix.

Velaski, who begins his new job Sept. 10, will oversee finance, human resources, information technology, strategic planning and internal auditing for Make-A-Wish, which has 81 U.S. chapters. He also will be liaison with the group’s international operation.

Before joining Exploris in May 2000, he worked for the Raleigh-based 1999 Special Olympics World Games, first as chief operating officer and later as chief marketing officer.

Exploris will begin searching immediately for a new development director, says Anne Bryan, Exploris’ president and co-founder.

Velaski is leaving at an opportune time, she says, because Exploris has begun the quiet phase of a campaign to raise $8.5 million, part of which will help pay off $5 million in outstanding loans.

The campaign, which could grow to cover future needs and probably won’t begin publicly until next summer, has raised $1.5 million in the past few months, Bryan said.

Exploris has not earmarked any funds raised so far to help retire debt, although they could be used for that purpose, she says.

Exploris also is preparing for the Nov. 17 opening of its IMAX theater.

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