Team News

Meet Our Marketing and Development Team

Since ICAN entered into a Managed Services Contract with the Utica Children’s Museum in 2017, operations, facilities, programming, marketing and development have been handled by ICAN’s various teams. The Marketing and Development Department is responsible for fundraising, donor relationship building, database upkeep, external communications, branding, marketing, graphic design and more. This team has also been working alongside the Museum Director on input, outreach and creation of the new museum, it’s exhibits and new brand. They have also done their fare share of hands-on programming of events (from school breaks to galas!) and driving the Mobile Museum from town to town!

We want you to “Meet the Team” behind of of this creative and strategic work!

Brandi Candido
Director of Brand Management
Working with the Museum since: 2018

What are your day-to-day responsibilities and some projects you’ve worked on for UCM?
As the Director who oversees all things Marketing and Development, I have spent every week since 2018 with some focus on Museum-related projects. I work closely with the Museum Director on big picture strategy as we work to open our brand new location and have attended Association of Children’s Museum national conferences to network, learn and be inspired at a larger scale. Our team is in the midst of a $7 million Capital Campaign to raise funds for ICAN’s Family Resource Center and the new Children’s Museum, and that entails a great deal of relationship building, presentations and strategy almost daily.

I also have done a ton of FUN “on the ground” things at the museum – from School Break Weeks where I virtually taught fun facts about Mardi Gras and made cool masks, to making Cotton Candy for a Carnival Day to planning upscale fundraisers like 100 Plates One Table and the 55th on 5th anniversary gala.

My Museum Fun Fact:
A super fun fact is that my MOM worked at the Children’s Museum as a guest experience specialist, so I would get to see her at work during our Thursday planning meetings! One of my favorite memories was working with her to design, plan and taste test (YUM!) the champagne rainbow display for the 55th on 5th Gala to celebrate the Museum’s anniversary.

What were you like as a kid?
Well of course I was adorable… and as an only child I was often found playing cards and board games with my favorite person – my grampa! And still just like today.. I was super chatty and always trying to make friends with just about anyone new I met – just a happy little social butterfly. 

Julian Galimo
Development Manager
Working with the Museum since: 2021

What are your day-to-day responsibilities and some projects you’ve worked on for UCM?
My day to day responsibilities are to help bring the museum to life by connecting with community partners and individuals. Our capital campaign Together We Can provides opportunities to leave a legacy by sponsoring a gallery of exhibits in the museum!  We also like to have some fun with our events. We host a Mini Golf Classic that is fun for the whole family as well as our premier event 100 Plates. One Table is a unique dining experience that connects people together through food!  On a day to day basis I engage with donors, research and identify new prospects, seek out other opportunities for funding, donor upkeep, and stewardship. My role is about embracing with the community as they play an important role in the future of children’s museums. My role allows me to be active and creative!

My Museum Fun Fact:
In 2016 during a program day for the Utica Children’s Museum called “Alice and Nanoland”, Alice was nowhere to be found! I received a phone call last minute asking me to come and play the role of Alice in Wonderland! I interacted and played with the kids, read the story of Alice in Wonderland and participated in activities.

A favorite memory of the Children’s Museum…
When I was a kid, my mother would host parties called Christmas in July for a bunch of our family, friends and neighbors and because I was a Christmas baby we got to also celebrate my birthday again! She would have them at the Children’s Museum where we could all play, do arts and crafts, visit with Santa and have birthday cake! I got to celebrate my birthday twice a year!

What were you like as a kid?
As a kid I had a great imagination and that was what was so great about the Children’s Museum that my imagination for play was coming to life! We all had a love for the main street area where we could play for hours. We would go and fourth the dentist,  then the grocery store, even up to the “shop” to have something fixed. It was only when one of us was bad that we ended up in jail.  We brought our creativity and imagination to life. Some of the best memories I have with my family was going to the Children’s Museum.

Heather Panzica
Development Assistant
Working with Museum since: December, 2021

What are your day-to-day responsibilities and some projects you’ve worked on for UCM?
Organizing/inputting donations with our Donor Perfect system, creating and managing information via spreadsheets, notes, reminders, invoices, and thank you letters. Event organizing, outreach, prep, and day of work at signature events like our Mini Golf Classic and 100 Plates One Table.

A favorite memory of the Children’s Museum…
I have vague memories of visiting the museum as a young child. My most vivid memories are the ones I have made within the last year of working at ICAN!  Prepping and working at our UCM Mini Golf and 100 Plates events. Or there was one time in particular, when Julian and I labeled hundreds of crayon packets as giveaways for one of the parades the mobile museum was in. Something about that rainbow just always brightens my day. I am so excited that I get to experience the current museum rebrand process – what a fun and historic thing to be a part of!

My Museum Fun Fact:
I found my job at ICAN through the Museum. When moving back to the area after being downstate for five years, I started researching Museums nearby. I had forgotten about the Utica Children’s Museum and I did some more digging about why it was currently closed and what the Capital Campaign project was. I was immediately drawn in and, from that, I found the job opening for the position I now currently have!

What were you like as a kid?
I was very imaginative – constantly daydreaming. Over something such as reading, I preferred keeping busy with different activities, clubs, sports, the outdoors, and playing with friends and family. I could spend hours with my friends and family putting on “shows”, creating dances, playing with barbies, playing Nintendo/PlayStation, and of course exploring the woods in our backyard. For many summers, my parents, 3 older siblings and I would take a week-long family vacation to 1000 Islands or Lake George – that’s when I got to parasail and zipline for the first time, and fell in love with the card game “SPOONS” – the staple game of our family vacations.  I also enjoyed going away to sleepaway camps every summer up North – bonding with friends and creating new childhood friends along the way.  For sports, I was active in soccer, figure skating, synchronized skating, and track the most. I tried out softball, dance and gymnastics for a short time as well, until an unfortunate but small elbow injury. My main other activities were school musicals, orchestra, chorus, art club, and Girl Scouts – along with other various volunteer activities. I had the fun opportunity to travel a lot for skating competitions and Girl Scouts. I even got the chance to help out with the Hurricane Katrina cleanup, through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance & Girl Scouts, during my high school junior year spring break. I am incredibly grateful for all the memories and experiences and how they have shaped the person I am today.

Michelle Truett
Marketing Manager
Working with the Museum since: 2017,but also
worked with the former Executive Director in 2015-2016.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities and some projects you’ve worked on for UCM?
I am a graphic designer so have created probably 99% of the things you have seen come from the museum since 2017, but I also do marketing, public relations, copywriting, social media strategy and upkeep, radio and TV, a bit of video, and so much more. I love taking something from nothing and making it amazing. I work closely with the Development team to create anything they need for the Capital Campaign and for potential donors, as well as teaming up with them for all the events. I once lovingly crafted a shiny, silver comma on a stick for a $1 million donation photo (numbers come in balloon form, commas do NOT!) We do it ALL. And we love it!

Favorite memories of the Children’s Museum…
Oh, the things we’ve done at the museum! My all time FAVORITE was running Utica History Day where we would start with some slides with kid-friendly fun facts about Utica, including a hat as a prop and pieces of paper sharing the names we MIGHT have been called if “Utica” wasn’t picked! We then went out to the park next door to visit the memorial building where I had Jerry from the Elfun Society inside ready to unlock the door for a visit, much to the children’s surprise. Last, we visited the 80-foot history mural I created on the John Street overpass and the kids had to find historical facts on the mural to fill out their worksheets. 

I built a whole cardboard city of Utica with my partner-in-crime Val. We held two Museum Idol singing contests and “Weatherkid” and “Newscaster Kid” contests with WUTR. I hung out with a Hot Wheels legend. We did this super dope rap writing session with local hip hop artist Leeky XIV. I LOVED making “Benny Bucks” to celebrate Ben Franklin’s birthday. And there was a thing involving taxidermied animals and a shopping cart…

Today, I LOVE taking the Mobile Museum out. It’s one of my favorite design projects I’ve ever done in my career and I love watching the kids do the “Seek and Find” to find illustrations all over it.

My Museum Fun Fact:
When I was illustrating the graphics for the Mobile Museum, I watched the movie Avatar while creating one side and Forrest Gump when creating the other. I needed to “lock in” creatively and 3+ hour movies did the trick! 

What were you like as a kid?
I was artistic, athletic and imaginative. I designed the most intricate covers for my (handwritten!) book reports in elementary school, started a creative business in 3rd grade and another painting slates when I was 15. I was in the Gifted and Talented Program from the age of 8, which profoundly affected my journey, my perspective and my drive. And I looooooved to read – which has carried through to today. #RamonaQuimbyFanForLife