As a high schooler in Texas in the 1980s, Larry Dubinski spent his time volunteering for B’Nai B’rith Youth Organization, a service group for Jewish teenagers, to address local issues like homelessness.
Today, Dubinski said he continues his same dedication to service as the president and CEO of The Franklin Institute.
“My whole life has been about a mission to help and inspire people,” said Dubinski, a 2000 Beasley School of Law alumnus.
In November, Dubinski was appointed as the chair-elect of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, an international organization that serves more than 700 science museums dedicated to facilitating the growth of science and technology. ASTC provides professional support and facilitates partnerships for its member organizations, which include science centers and museums, aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens.
In his role at The Franklin Institute, Dubinski said the museum has recently completed a new strategic plan, which will guide the museum toward its 200th anniversary in 2024. He added that he has helped incorporate new “out-of-the-box” museum activities — like escape rooms in which participants solve a series of puzzles to unlock a door in a closed room.
“Critical thinking, team building, problem solving are so important,” Dubinski said. “What’s a great way for people to do that of all ages? The escape room has emerged.”
Dubinski has worked for The Franklin Institute since the 1990s. After moving to Philadelphia in 1995, he was hired by the museum in 1996 as their director of corporate and government relations.
While he worked at the museum during the day, Dubinski traveled to Main Campus at night to attend class at the Beasley School of Law.
“It was a very collaborative environment, especially as evening students when we’re all working during the day and then going to law school at night,” Dubinski said. “That camaraderie towards that common goal of furthering our education was really important to us.”
After working at an international law firm for four years, Dubinski rejoined The Franklin Institute in 2004 as the vice president of development and general counsel.
“Our mission to inspire passion for learning about science and technology is so important and I missed that,” Dubinski said. “I missed being in a job that was really focused on inspiring and educating people.”
Dubinski was unanimously elected to be the new CEO and president of the Franklin Institute in 2014.
Gillian Thomas, the current interim CEO of ASTC, has worked with Dubinski for more than 10 years. She said he will help ASTC advance its goal of spreading awareness of science and technology, especially among children.
“You need someone with a big vision,” Thomas said. “And Larry’s vision is for science to be for the good of the people and to make the world a better place.”
Thomas said science centers can fill important educational gaps for children who lack experiences with science at schools.
“The science center field is very important for making sure that everybody can access science so that it can help them as they go forward in their everyday lives,” Thomas said.
In 2008, Dubinski joined ASTC as the chair of its development committee, a position he held for the following eight years. Since then, he has served on ASTC’s Board of Directors. He will assume his role as the board chair in 2019.
“It’s a recognition to which I’m humbled because the peers that both myself and the institution I lead are really leaders worldwide in the institutions of science and tech,” Dubinski said. “I bring a big vision forward that really shows how science and technology centers can have such an important impact on their communities and hopefully I can help science centers around the world achieve that mission.”
Thomas said she and Dubinski have dedicated their careers to work in science education because of their shared belief in the importance in promoting future innovation.
“Not everybody gets to work in a job that gets to help really make the world a different place,” Thomas said. “By inspiring curiosity and opening people’s ideas [to change and innovation]…they’re going to have a better life as they move forward.”
CORRECTION: This article previously misspelled Larry Dubinski’s name.