Election 2014 Candidate Statements
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International Planetarium Society Election 2014

The ballot deadline: December 1 at 0h UT.

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Candidate Statements

President-Elect: Shawn Laatsch -|- Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|-Treasurer: Ann Bragg -|- Top of page

Shawn Laatsch photo

President-Elect Candidate Statement

Shawn Laatsch

It is an honor to have been nominated for the President Elect of the International Planetarium Society. The Society has had a major impact on my life as a planetarian and I believe that working together we can go so much further than we can working individually.

As we go into the future we must stay true to our roots in astronomy, but we must also expand our horizons in other areas of content in science, arts, and culture.  Just as Galileo discovered a whole new universe by pointing a new instrument (the telescope) skyward, we too should follow in his footsteps and be emboldened to take our audiences farther too.  The technologies in our domes (both traditional and new ones) make it possible to travel across the universe, and I hope that we as the ambassadors of science will use our technologies, whatever we have, to share science with our audiences and inspire them to explore their place in the cosmos.

For the past 18 years I've had the privilege of serving as the Treasurer and Membership Chair for IPS.  I've seen us expand internationally from being about 2/3 US-based and 1/3 International to being roughly 50/50 in terms of the makeup.  IPS is an inclusive group open to people from all sizes and types of planetariums, yet we are not reaching all planetariums or planetarians.  There are roughly 4000 domes on planet Earth, yet our membership has stayed constant around 650 to 700 per year.  How do we reach the other domes and the planetarians that currently are not a part of our group?  This is something we need to figure out for IPS to remain relevant as an organization.  How do we engage our membership more deeply and attract new members?

My hope is that Vision 2020 will provide us with a roadmap to guide us forward on this path.  Feedback started at the conference in Beijing this summer and workshops will be held at regional meetings and surveys will be conducted online.  Please take time to participate and send in your feedback!  I'm eager to carry this initiative forward and push hard for the changes the membership feels we need.

Another passion I have is for live presentations in the dome environment.  I truly believe that whether you are working in a large dome or a portable, live presentation is the heart of what we do as planetarians, and it is what inspires the people who visit us.  We cannot compete with Hollywood movies, but we can provide visitors something the movies cannot - live presenters sharing their passion.  This by itself or combined with a prepared show is a spectacular experience no movie theater or online game can provide.  But we are losing this live personal touch.  The tradition of live presentations should be encouraged and embraced by our field.   And we must all expand our knowledge base and learn how to talk about more topics in both astronomy and other areas.  So the key here is professional development, and I hope to spearhead projects in that area.

During my time on Council as Treasurer I've had the chance to learn and work with some of the most dedicated people in our field. My goal is to take what I've learned and put it to the best use for our Society and for you its members. I would enjoy sharing my experiences and enthusiasm to continue this most important work for the society.  I humbly ask you for your support as IPS President Elect.

President-Elect: Shawn Laatsch -|- Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|-Treasurer: Ann Bragg -|- Top of page

Lee Ann Hennig

Secretary Candidate Statement

Lee Ann Hennig


Lee Ann has been a member of IPS since 1972 and a planetarian and astronomy teacher since graduating from college. She teaches Astronomy and operates the planetarium at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia. Lee Ann has a B.S. in Astronomy/Mathematics and an M.S. in Secondary Science Education/Astronomy from the University of Maryland. She has served on many committees, held offices, and participated in conferences associated with IPS, MAPS, and other organizations.


These are exciting times in the planetarium profession and it has been my pleasure to serve as IPS Secretary for several years. As an officer, I fully support the promise of IPS Vision 2020 to set us on a path to address the changes in our profession, support and protect our legacy facilities and improve the way we do business as an organization.

I feel that the Secretary’s position continues to demonstrate how we pay attention to detail, keep accurate records, and foster organization and communication skills. I am committed to broadening these skills throughout our committee and council work in order to help the organization be more responsive to the membership.

I value my experience and relationships with my MAPS affiliate-this has deepened my commitment to service in the planetarium profession and enabled me to develop skills that have been invaluable across all platforms of my work. I encourage each of you to look at your own personal and professional responsibilities and consider an opportunity to give back to the field in terms of committee work or officer candidacy.

Working with the IPS Council and the IPS Membership has been a rewarding and challenging experience. It has been an honor serving as secretary and I hope to continue to carry out the goals and philosophy of IPS and will do my best to make it a stronger and more effective organization for the membership.

Thank you for the opportunity,
Lee Ann

President-Elect: Shawn Laatsch -|- Secretary: Lee Ann Hennig -|-Treasurer: Ann Bragg -|- Top of page

photo of Ann Bragg

Treasurer / Membership Chairman
Candidate Statement

Ann Bragg

I am honored to be nominated for the office of IPS Treasurer and Membership Chair. Although I am a member of many professional societies, including the American Astronomical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Great Lakes Planetarium Association, and IPS, I have found GLPA and IPS to be the most helpful to me, not just in terms of operating my planetarium, but also in shaping my view of education and informing my teaching. I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the planetarium community by performing the duties of Treasurer and Membership Chair. In an increasingly connected global society, IPS has an important role in fostering communication and collaboration between planetarians worldwide.  Maintaining and increasing membership levels within the society is essential to fulfilling this role.  Furthermore, a sound financial base is crucial to the health of the society and its continued ability to bring planetarians together.

As is the case for many of you, my path into the planetarium field was somewhat circuitous. I began my post-secondary education intending to become an astronomy researcher, earning a B.A. in Physics from Rice University and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University. Towards the end of my Ph.D. program, I concluded that I was primarily interested in education, which eventually lead to my current position as both the Planetarium Director and an Associate Professor of Physics at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio.

As is fairly common at small and mid-sized planetariums, I am a “Director” with a staff of one (myself) plus a small number of volunteers and students to assist when possible. After more than five years of giving outreach shows to all ages, I am a firm believer in live planetarium presentations tailored to the audience as well as in live question-and-answer periods at the end of each program. Most of our programs also include a pre-recorded fulldome show; the accuracy of the content and the quality of scripts are the major drivers of which shows we select. As a member of IPS Council, I would represent the viewpoint of those who share these priorities, as well as those who operate their facilities with limited staffing.

In my role as an Associate Professor, I have taught physics and astronomy courses at all levels, interacting with both general education students and physics majors. I believe that my experience in the dome has improved the quality of my teaching. Perhaps as a result, I recently received Marietta College’s Outstanding Faculty Award, which is given by the Student Senate to one faculty member each year at graduation. I have also been active with service to the College; I am currently in the middle of a two-year term on our Faculty Council and I am chairing a committee involved in our upcoming institutional accreditation. Should I be elected IPS Treasurer and Membership Chair, my experience in these College-level leadership roles will inform my performance of the responsibilities of the office.

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