Museum Leadership

ellenEllen Censky, PhD
President & CEO

A Cedarburg, Wisconsin native, Dr. Ellen J. Censky began her career at the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) in 1977. She went on to serve in other leadership capacities nationally, including at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, where she received national recognition for her work in founding and developing the BioBlitz program, which is now a staple community outreach program at institutions in every U.S. state and in countries around the world.

Dr. Censky continued to expand her leadership skills as the Director of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Director and CEO of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, guiding both institutions through significant expansions and seven-figure capital campaigns. Following successful tenures of leadership across the country, Dr. Censky returned to the Milwaukee Public Museum in 2008 to serve as Senior Vice President and Academic Dean. Today, Dr. Censky is responsible for leading the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Dr. Censky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and her doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Pittsburgh.

Jennifer Zaspel, PhD
Vice President & Academic Dean

Dr. Zaspel has developed an internationally recognized research program in insect systematics and comparative evolution. She reconstructs the historical relationships of major groups of insects in order to discern the origins of their behaviors. Dr. Zaspel’s program also tests specific hypotheses regarding plant and animal host associations in an evolutionary context using moths in the family Erebidae (c.a. 20,000 species) as her primary research system. The specimen-based portion of Dr. Zaspel’s research program involves revisionary systematics, specimen informatics, and advanced digitization.

In 2017, Dr. Zaspel was elected Vice President for the Systematics, Evolution, and Behavior section of the Entomological Society of America and to the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA) Board of Directors. In 2018, Dr. Zaspel was elected Research Associate to the National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Institution.

JulieJulie Quinlan Brame
Senior Vice President of Development

Julie Quinlan Brame is thrilled to lead efforts to connect community members to ways they can help the Museum thrive. She is excited to return to MPM in this role after beginning her development career at MPM. 

Prior to returning to the Museum, Quinlan Brame was the Vice President of Advancement at Alverno College, where she led the development, marketing, and alumnae relations teams. Under her leadership, Alverno’s fundraising team increased annual giving from $2.5 million to $12 million and succeeded in a $32 million capital campaign, the largest in the College’s history.  Julie also served as the Vice President of Development for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and worked on the marketing team of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

She did her master’s degree studies in vocal performance at New England Conservatory of Music and holds a bachelor’s degree of music from UW-Madison. She has been honored with the Scott M. Cutlip Professional Fundraiser Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals—Southeastern Wisconsin,  and was named a 40 Under 40 honoree by The Business Journal Milwaukee. 

rebecca ehlersRebecca Ehlers
Vice President of Marketing, Communications, & Visitor Experience

As a Milwaukee native and lifelong MPM-aficionado, Rebecca Ehlers is honored to have the opportunity to shape the marketing and overall visitor experience for the current Museum while also influencing the branding, design, and visitor experience of the future museum. 

Ehlers comes to MPM with a broad background in marketing, advertising, communications, and event planning both in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Through positions at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, LUMIN Schools, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Harley-Davidson, and Hoffman York, Ehlers has used her skills to elevate brands and lead teams whose work is positively impacting the community. 

In 2016, Ehlers was named Chief Marketing Officer of the Year by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Ehlers serves on the Board of Directors for TEMPO Milwaukee. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

katie sandersKatie Sanders
Chief Planning Officer

Sanders received her Bachelor’s and Master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed Harvard Business School's "Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management" program. Prior to joining MPM, she served as executive director of nonprofit Safe & Sound and held development roles with Marquette University and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She has been recognized by the Milwaukee Business Journal as a "40 under 40" and is a recipient of the Donald Driver Foundation's "Driven to Achieve" Award and Milwaukee Magazine's "Bridge Builder" Betty Award.

As CPO at MPM, Sanders’ focus is on the reimagination of the Milwaukee Public Museum, including coordinating exhibit and visitor experience planning, space planning, planning and execution of lobbying efforts, public relations, building and construction planning, and more.