Two San Antonio nonprofit organizations, the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy and the Witte Museum—which advance the causes of nature conservancy, and history and science, respectively—recently appointed new leaders.

What happened

Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy officials on Dec. 18 announced Melissa Kazen as its new executive director.

According to a conservancy press release, Kazen is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and has more than 20 years of experience in not-for-profit leadership. She most recently served as executive vice president and chief financial officer with Communities In Schools of San Antonio.

Kazen follows the conservancy’s two former CEOs, Betty Sutherland and Denise Gross, each of whom served 10-year terms, the release stated. The conservancy programs activities and addresses other aspects of the North San Antonio park, which is named after former judge and Mayor Phil Hardberger.

Witte Museum officials on Dec. 14 named its new president and CEO, Dirk Elmendorf, who joined the Witte’s board of trustees in November 2012 and chaired the board during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Witte Museum news release stated Elmendorf co-founded Rackspace Technology, a San Antonio-based publicly traded company. Elmendorf is serving on numerous city and public committees, and is an advocate for education, the release states.

Elmendorf succeeds Marise McDermott, who announced early in 2023 she would end her 20-year tenure as the Witte’s president and CEO, and become president emeritus starting in 2024.

What they’re saying

Kazen voiced excitement for her new position with the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy.

“I am honored to be leading such a great and well-respected organization, and I am greatly looking forward to working alongside former Mayor Phil Hardberger and the entire board and staff of the conservancy as we move forward together in connecting people to nature into the park’s next decade,” she said in a statement.

Elmendorf said he will use technology to expand the Witte Museum’s impact on the community.

“I will lead our initiative to create a ‘digital doorway’ to the Witte's curators and collection. Our new learning platform, Texas Museums 360, will allow the Witte to reach more Texas children and get them to truly engage with science and history,” Elmendorf said in a statement.