News, Event

Executive Director Sam Dean Celebrates Ten Years

November 18, 2022

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Saturday, November 19, 2022, will mark ten years of leadership from the Scott Family Amazeum’s Executive Director, Sam Dean. Throughout his tenure Dean has accomplished amazing feats, including the conception, planning and execution of building and opening the physical location, recruiting the team that implements the mission of the organization, and daily management and oversight needed to grow a nonprofit. Dean was recruited to lead the organization from the ground up and has been improving the lives of those connected to the Amazeum ever since. “The chance to be able to pull a team together and create a new space is pretty rare”, Dean added. “It was pretty special to be able to make this vision and dream of the board come alive.”

The Amazeum continues to grow at an exponential rate. Dean credits the Northwest Arkansas community and the ability of the Amazeum to be flexible for that growth. “The community comes together and works in a really concerted way, even through points of conflict. Our ability to be part of that growth and partner with organizations is remarkable.” 

Since opening the doors, the Amazeum has welcomed 1,441,766 visitors, hosted 169,258 students on for “Unfield” trips, and participated in over 500 offsite educational and outreach events. There’s a pretty straightforward reason for the success, and it’s apparent in the notes, letters, and reviews the Amazeum receives. Dean said, “there are great human beings that work here. The personal connection with the people who visit is heard again and again. We treat people who come here like we care about them, because we do care about them.” 

Of course, there are challenges in running a nonprofit, “it’s almost inherently a more complex organization because you have rules and regulations to follow. We have all the same funding pressures other businesses have, but we have to figure out other ways to bring money in”, added Dean. The Amazeum elects to look for other ways to bring in funds so that we don't have to charge the actual amount for what it takes to run the Amazeum.

Dean reflected on some of his favorite memories over the years, telling stories upon stories of positive impacts and sweet moments. Willow came over 100 times and coming to the Amazeum was part of her weekly life; she really got to know the team. One kiddo was moving back to India, and this is the last thing she wanted to do before leaving Arkansas. She specifically wanted to see her favorite team member. and wanted to see the team member. Tom (Amazeum teammate) started doing the “Tom tour” and would take adult visitors around to show them amazing moments that occur throughout the building. 

Oftentimes you’ll see Sam playfully interacting with kids through his office windows, where he has dozens of toys lined up. This is a direct reflection of who Sam is, what he believes in, and how he leads. Dean’s impact will continue to be felt throughout Northwest Arkansas and beyond. “There’s something powerful with laughter and joy and play. The Amazeum is a nutrient dense place; it’s fun and it’s a great place to learn”, Dean finished.