CEO of the Year: Frederic Bertley's Electrifying Leadership

Chloe Teasley
Frederic Bertley, President and CEO of COSI

Frederic Bertley, President and CEO, COSI

About:The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) provides informal science experiences, including hands-on interactives on the museum floor, state-of-the-art planetarium and movie theater spaces, in-person and digital outreach programs and a one-of-a-kind partnership with the American Museum of Natural History.

In Position: Since January 2017

Previous:Senior VP, science and education, Franklin Institute; technology specialist, intellectual property division, WilmerHale, LLP; research scientist seeking DNA vaccines for HIV/AIDS, Harvard Medical School; research affiliate, MIT; various teaching positions from public school to college level

Roughly two years into his tenure at COSI, Frederic Bertley has some big achievements under his belt. COSI interacted with more than 50,000 people, handing out glasses and educating people in all 22 Columbus libraries during the solar eclipse in August 2017. It gathered 10 central Ohio mayors to announce its 2019 science fair in May 2018—a concept Bertley had already started successfully in Philadelphia. It also recently opened its doors to 5,120 L Brands employees and their families to complete the COSI Smartest Company Challenge, an event that tests the knowledge of groups of employees through a scavenger hunt that takes place in the museum.

The goal is to grow COSI's reputation as a science company and not merely a science museum. “I would like for when you think of science, you think of COSI,” says Bertley.

COSI board members gave Bertley that mission when they hired him. “The way you deliver content in the 21st century is more than just that visitor experience,” says Tom Dailey, the incoming board chair. “How do we take the traditional museum experience, which is just sort of static exhibits, and how do we bring that to life both inside and outside the walls? We were really looking for somebody who had a passionate view about how you could do that.”

Bertley and his team recently completed a strategic plan that addresses that objective. The plan focuses on several main goals, such as moving into the community with science experiences like the upcoming Science Festival or past eclipse event. Also on the agenda is growing the diversity of those interacting with COSI. “Science is for everyone and COSI needs to be for everyone,” Bertley says.

Bertley credits the Columbus business community with supporting COSI's goals. “It's really the community that has allowed me to start forging this path forward in a real way,” he says. “The Columbus community is so embracive, so engaging, so wanting to partner with you—most of all they want to see you succeed. Yeah, there's a little competition here and there. But there's this really burgeoning will to see everybody succeed. That concept of the rising tide raises all boats is really in Columbus.”

COSI's Science Festival—slated for May 2019—will be a four-day affair showcasing science all around Columbus with over 60 events. It will culminate with a day of carnival-style, hands-on activities on the Scioto Peninsula outside of COSI.

Bertley wants to flesh out other ideas, too, including a kid-centric tailgate at the museum with screens, food, drink and—of course—relevant science education (the physics of throwing a ball, for instance). He says Ohio State University President Michael Drake likes the idea. “Now you're having this cool experience that brings something that's really meaningful to central Ohio—the Ohio State Buckeyes—but you layer on some fun science, interactive stuff,” Bertley says.

Of Bertley's CEO of the Year win, Dailey says, “I'm proud as a peacock. Having led the search committee, I feel like it's just a validation that we made a great choice. … I think it's remarkable that a guy who is just in his second year now—not just at COSI but in Columbus—would be someone who is selected for the award.”

Bertley has another project he's working on—he'd like for a whitepaper he's writing to become a book one day. The subject is leadership—specifically the “five L's of leadership.” First, leaders must listen to and learn about whom they are leading, then they must leverage that information to lead. The last L is longevity, and that is exactly what Bertley is pursuing at COSI.

Chloe Teasley is staff writer.


Melanie Corn, President, Columbus College of Art & Design

As the first female president of Columbus College of Art & Design, Melanie Corn continues a career in academics that began in the Bay Area, where she transitioned from art historian to academic administrator at California College of the Arts. Corn developed a passion for studio education that has followed her to Columbus. Since the beginning of her term at CCAD—having been entrusted with setting a new tone and direction for the college, Corn has tackled the mammoth task of reworking the CCAD strategic plan and has signed off on numerous campus renovations, including the state-of-the-art Cloyd Family Animation Center. CCAD has also seen an increase in enrollment during Corn's first two years.

She is a member of the Columbus Partnership, where she is able to speak with the unique voice of a higher education organization in the arts. Founded in 1879, CCAD today offers 12 bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees in everything from industrial design to visual arts to about 1,200 students.

David Harrison, President, Columbus State Community College

David Harrison, Columbus State Community College's fifth president, has been in the role since July 2010. His focus is on making college affordable and within the reach of all. During his tenure, CSCC has seen the introduction of the Preferred Pathway Program—a program designed to make bachelor's degrees more affordable by guaranteeing transfer admission into Ohio State University after two years spent at the college. Prior to his current position, Harrison served as vice provost for regional campuses at the University of Central Florida, where he created the Central Florida Higher Education Consortium and the DirectConnect to UCF program, a nationally recognized education initiative that guarantees the opportunity to pursue a bachelor's degree for those enrolled in partner Florida community colleges. Columbus State is one of the largest colleges in Ohio with more than 25,000 students. It has nine regional campuses and serves students from all Ohio counties. It also offers more access to online classes than any other Ohio college.

Guy Worley, President and CEO, Columbus Downtown Development Corp.

Guy Worley's fingerprints are all over the beautification and revitalization of Columbus' city center. As a leader of 25 years, the president and CEO of both the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation and Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation has spearheaded Columbus redevelopments all over Downtown—including the creation of the Scioto Mile, redevelopment of the Columbus Commons (formerly the City Center Mall) and renovation of the Lazarus building.

Prior to these projects, Worley was chief of staff under Mayor Mike Coleman and county administrator for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. Worley recently spearheaded the opening of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum and is developing a section of the Scioto Peninsula. He also teaches Performance Management and Budgeting at Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He is back on campus after having earned a bachelor's in economics and a master's in public administration also from Ohio State.