ST. CLOUD -- The Great River Children's Museum has hired its first-ever Executive Director. Cassie Miles will be leading the effort to help launch the non-profit in downtown St. Cloud.

She has a background in the financial industry and is also a board member for GREAT Theater.

She says she's excited to help get the museum open to the public.

Well, I have a huge entrepreneurial spirit, so this is a start-up like no other.  This is a really big project for the entire community.  That's one of the big draws for me.  I am obviously interested in our whole community and what families can do for a community, and so I think this is going to just boost the downtown economy a great deal.

Miles says her main focus in the role of executive director will be fundraising and community engagement.  She says a grant from the Minnesota Humanities Center is helping the non-profit go into the next phase.

That's actually what's paying my salary right now.  The legacy grant is allowing us to work with the exhibit design and developers and keep the process moving right now while we're in the capital campaign quiet phase.  So, without that money, we wouldn't have me here right now.

Liberty Bank donated its building on 7th Avenue to the Great River Children's Museum a little over a year ago.

Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers launched Play Explore Learn labs to engage kids with the museum while pre-design work was being done.  They've now transitioned to the Family Fun Club to create activities for families to do at home.

Miles says they are still in the quiet phase of their capital campaign, but she says they will need to eventually raise about $12 million before they can open their doors. There is no hard opening date yet, but that will probably be a few years down the road.

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