About Us

CDM is a pioneering leader, igniting children's passion for learning through play. From Chattanooga to nationwide outreach, we engage the senses and inspire exploration.

Research has long proven that play is the work of childhood. Through play, children gain mental, physical, and social skills necessary to succeed in their adult lives. CDM is a nonprofit organization, prime tourist attraction, the region’s expert in experiential learning and a vital educational resource collaborating with community partners across our region.

Our Mission

To inspire all children to explore, innovate, create, and play.

Our Vision

To make our community the best place for a child to grow up.

Welcoming Message
We value the diversity, inclusivity, well-being, and education of our visitors, staff, and volunteers. We respect all backgrounds, beliefs, and diversity as it relates to age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economics, and family structure.

Learn more about our commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.

Our Museum History

The idea for CDM was born in 1989 as the board of the Hunter Museum of American Art evaluated the viability of developing a children’s wing. The board recommended a separate children’s museum be created as part of the revitalization of downtown. CDM was incorporated in 1992 and opened in 1995.

It quickly evolved into a multi-disciplinary, educational institution, utilizing interactive programs and exhibits to explore art, music, science and technology. In 2004, CDM acquired the NewsChannel9 Science Theater in Northgate Mall which has become a key component of its science education efforts. The Science Theater relocated to the Museum’s main campus in 2010. In 2005, the Museum completed a major renovation which included the installation of the RiverPlay exhibit, an outdoor rooftop exhibit focusing on simple machines, and Buzz Alley exploring the world of bees.

Today, CDM is one of Chattanooga’s most dynamic and innovative cultural resources earning accolades for innovation and quality including:

- Six national awards from the Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS)
- Best practices awards from the Association of Children’s Museums
- Best Children’s Museum rankings from Child Magazine (13th in 2002) and Trekaroo (7th in 2015)
- Best of the Best Museum, Chattanooga (2019)
- Pinnacle Award from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration for its distance learning programs (2016 and 2019)
- First museum in Tennessee to join the Museum for All initiative, in which a significantly reduced-price admission is offered to families in the EBT program
- Certified as a KultureCity® Sensory Inclusive™ organization, meaning the Museum is accessible to children with special needs on a daily basis (2019)
- One of six museums and/or science centers selected by the Association of Science and Technology Center’s to join the Cultural Competence Learning Institute (CCLI, 2019)

Community Impact

The Museum serves children in the surrounding community and in partnership with schools and other organizations.

Learn more about our values, commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, and community partners HERE.

Club Discovery

Club Discovery is an inclusive after-school program for friends with a diagnosis and their typically developing peers to enjoy the Museum.

Sensory Night

A free, low-sensory event on the first Thursday of every month for children and families with sensory sensitivities. Registration required.

2019 • Chattanooga Times Free PRess

2019 • Finalist

2018 • Trip Advisor

Meet the Team

Our team is dedicated to making the Museum a place for all to learn and create.

Office of the executive director
Tim Sears
President and CEO
(423) 648-6065
Randy Jestice
Business Administrator
(423) 648-6056
Sherri Hinton
Assistant to the President
(423) 648-6063
Advancement Department
Destiny Howard
Development Manager
(423) 648-6096
Donyel Johnson
Vice President of Advancement
(423) 648-6043
Hannah Hawthorne
Guest Relations Manager
(423) 648-6052
Kaiya Moore
Membership Coordinator
(423) 648-6085
Kendra Satterwhite
Digital Media Specialist
Brianna Daignault
Director of Membership and Events
(423) 648-6055
Mackenzie Steele
Director of Marketing & Communications
(423) 648-6054
Education Department
John Echols
Professional Development Coordinator
(423) 648-6050
Jennifer Nowlin
Out of School Time & Inclusion Manager
(423) 648-6044
Glenn Gass
STEM & Making Coordinator
(423) 756-2738
Caroline Ring
Art Studio Coordinator
(423) 756-2738
Mark Watlington
Volunteer Manager
Melissa Garland
STEM Specialist
(423) 756-2738
Kate Polickoski
Museum Experience Facilitator
(423) 648-6066
José Castillo
Museum Experience Manager
(423) 648-6090
Sheila Woody
Reservations Manager
(423) 648-6040
Amanda Ward
Director of Museum Experience and Volunteers
(423) 648-6062
Erin Townley
Early Childhood Specialist
(423) 648-6041
Whittney Hendren
Director of Outreach & Schools
(423) 648-6082
Christie Haggard
Early Childhood Coordinator
(423) 648-6073
Liza Blair
Arts Specialist
(423) 648-6069
Claire Stockman
Vice President of Education
(423) 648-6064
Operations Department
Jessalyn Beasley
Exhibit Props and Projects Coordinator
(423) 648-6079
Andy Fuller
Director of Maintenance and Facilities
(423) 648-6070
Denee Stewart Freeman
Evaluation & Audience Specialist
(423) 648-6059
Gabe Taylor
Exhibits Specialist
(423) 648-6057
Ronnie Hanson
Guest Relations Manager
(423) 756-2738
April Burk
Director of Guest Relations
(423) 648-6048
Shannon Johnson
Vice President of Operations
(423) 648-6070

Meet the Board

The Museum board is committed to improving education for all children in the community.

Executive Committee
Taylor Vinson
Board Chair
Christie Burbank
Trey White
Board of Trustees
Bailey Howard
Betsy Cake
Caitlin Studer
Chris Reneau
Dori Waller
Jay Hill
Kristin Watts
Lisa Montelongo-Connor
Mario Duarte
Michael Walton
Mickey Cloud
Patrick Keegan
Patrick Stowe
Thomas Barnes
Wayne Brown
Honorary Life Board Members
Joseph H. Davenport, III
Ex-Officio Board Members
Keith Sanford

Financial Transparency