Principals

Maria Elena Gutierrez

Maria Elena Gutierrez is a principal at Chora LLC. With two decades of experience in management and organizational development in both the private and 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, and headed the Investor Relations Department of one of Latin America’s largest companies, Fomento Economico Mexicano.

Maria Elena’s strengths are strategic vision, business acumen, communication skills, talent for networking, and political awareness. She can navigate across boundaries between cultures (she is fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian), between the profit and the non-profit worlds, and between the entertainment and the educational domains. Her ability to build and 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 and the U.S. governments and the private sector. More broadly, Maria Elena has opened and closed negotiations for multi-million dollar business and philanthropic ventures, leveraging her extensive connections with corporations, private donors, and foundations world-wide.

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

Robert D. Sullivan

Robert D. Sullivan (Sully), principal at Chora LLC, has over forty years of museum leadership, management, education, and fundraising experience. From 1990-2006, he served as the Associate Director for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, managing all aspects of exhibition, education, and public program development. Sully’s leadership and vision, combined with his strategic management skills, generated exhibitions and programs that set new standards for the Smithsonian and the international museum community. Recognizing the vast educational potential of the web, he has been committed to transforming museums from isolated cultural destinations into hubs within an interconnected global learning network.

Working with the American Management Association, Sully designed and implemented strategic planning and management courseware delivering a purpose and results-centered management philosophy to over 2,000 public sector managers. Formerly the Director of the New York State Museum, which he built and managed for 10 years, Sully holds a graduate degree in management of non-profit organizations from the University of Rochester and is a candidate for the PHD in Human Sciences at The George Washington University.

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.