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Jessa Barzelay Promoted to Chief Programs Officer

CuriOdyssey, a children’s science playground and zoo is pleased to announce that Jessa Barzelay has been promoted to the role of Chief Programs Officer. Barzelay joined CuriOdyssey in 2021 after 13 years in education management and leadership at the San Francisco Zoo and San Francisco Botanical Garden. She has felt her greatest professional joy and strongest drive to make change working at the intersection of science, nature, and people. Barzelay also leads the Education Department and oversees its school and children and family programs, including steering STEMCorps, a pilot program with a goal to support and empower youth from underrepresented communities to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math learning (STEAM). As year two of the program gets underway, the education team has doubled the number of STEM mentors working with elementary and middle school students at select Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula sites. Launching this Fall, the STEMCorps Youth Leadership Development program will support high school students, focusing on youth of color, in gaining the skills necessary to be a strong STEM leader through volunteer activities, job and college-readiness activities, and meet and greets.

As Chief Programs Officer at CuriOdyssey, Barzelay will take on the responsibility of expanding and enhancing the impact of public-facing programs through strategic collaboration between the Education, Wildlife, Exhibits, Volunteers and Conservation departments. Leveraging the strengths of these teams and the dedication of department leadership, collaboration on content development and evaluation will have a positive impact on our visitors. With the completion of the Bay Gallery & Labs slated for early 2023, CuriOdyssey will have additional state-of-the-art, classrooms and exhibit space dedicated to brand-new, in-house designed and built hands-on science exhibits featuring phenomena inspired by our bayside setting. “Activating these new spaces that highlight this amazing ecosystem and the wonder it inspires is truly a dream opportunity for the Programs Team,” Barzelay said.

Barzelay will continue to help champion ways to increase access to STEAM education, both onsite at CuriOdyssey and offsite at schools and in the community, particularly for marginalized communities. This year the Education Team initiated a new scholarship program with the support of donors, helping to remove and reduce financial barriers and increase participation across programs. As we return to pre-pandemic program offerings and develop new programs and experiences, CuriOdyssey will continue to represent excellence in the field of early childhood education as San Mateo County’s science playground and zoo.

Jessa graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in Biology and the University of San Francisco with a MA in Nonprofit Administration. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, managing the chaos of 2 kittens, as well as supporting the curiosity of her own 2 children (both enthusiastic Camp CuriOdyssey participants).

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1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo, CA 94401
Ohlone Land Acknowledgement
[email protected]

CuriOdyssey is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Tax ID 94-1262434

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The gold standard for animal care and welfare.
ASTC Member. Association of Science and Technology Centers.
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