Principals

Maria Elena Gutierrez

Maria Elena Gutiérrez is founder & a principal at Chora, LLC. With two decades of experience in management & organizational development in the private & the non-profit sectors, she brings to museum consultancy a critically important business perspective. Prior to founding Chora, Maria Elena worked at McKinsey & Co., Lehman Brothers’ Investment Banking Division, & headed the Investor Relations Department of one of Latin America’s largest corporations.

Maria Elena’s strengths are her strategic vision, business acumen, communication skills, talent for networking, & political awareness. She can navigate across boundaries between cultures (she is fluent in English, Spanish, & Italian), between the profit & the non-profit worlds, & between the entertainment & the educational domains. Her ability to build & motivate large networks of partners in order to deliver complex projects has been a common element in her professional successes. Recently, she co-produced the IMAX film Flight of the Butterflies, an award-winning documentary funded by the Mexican & the U.S. governments & the private sector. More broadly, Maria Elena has opened & closed negotiations for multi-million dollar business & philanthropic ventures, leveraging her extensive connections with corporates, private donors, & foundations world-wide.

Maria Elena earned a BA degree in economics from Dartmouth College, an MBA degree in finance from Yale University, & graduated from the executive program at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. She has also been the recipient of the Best Latin American Investor Relations Officer Award from Investor Relations Magazine in 2002 & the Smithsonian Institution Special Achievement Award in 2004.

Robert D. Sullivan

Robert D. Sullivan (Sully) has over 45 years of museum program, management, education, & fundraising experience. From 1991 to 2006, he served as the Associate Director for Public Programs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, managing all aspects of exhibition, education, & public program development. His creative leadership & vision combined with his strategic management skills generated exhibitions & programs that set new standards for the Smithsonian & the international museum community. Recognizing the vast educational potential of the web, he is committed to transforming museums from isolated cultural destination into hubs within an interconnected global learning network.

Working with the American Management Association, Sully designed & implemented strategic planning & management courseware delivering his purpose & results-centered management philosophy to over 1,000 public sector managers. Formerly the Director of the New York State Museum, Sully holds a graduate degree in management of nonprofit organizations from the University of Rochester & is currently a candidate for the PHD in Human Sciences at The George Washington University. His training & experience in anthropology, psychoanalytic theory & museum management, along with his application of social theory & analysis to the contemporary museum visitor, prepares him to meet the continuing challenge of creating engaging & effective educational experiences for new generations of learners. Robert Sullivan has taught graduate seminars in museum studies at The George Washington University & Johns Hopkins University. His active research & application of new theoretical frameworks into the practice of museums makes him one of the foremost scholars defining the future of the museum field.

Heather Rostker

Heather Rostker brings over 14 years of experience in exhibit and web development at the Smithsonian. Heather has managed the strategic implementation and evaluation of permanent and temporary exhibitions. In addition to exhibit development, she has coordinated planning, design, and production of award-winning public programs and web projects and conducted strategic planning and creative vision sessions for web development.

Heather holds a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies with a special focus on museum management and programming.