Children's Museum executive director moving on

East Lyme - The executive director of the Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut is leaving her position, with plans to travel and cook for her family.

Christy Hammond submitted her resignation to the museum on June 1; her last day is Tuesday. She will put the final touches on the setup of her final museum exhibit on Monday.

"The museum job is 24/7. When the alarm goes off at 2 in the morning, they call the executive director," Hammond said Wednesday. "Eight years, that's a long time. Most people don't spend eight years in a job anymore."

Prior to her three years as executive director, Hammond served as the museum's director of education for five years.

She said her husband has "a rare opportunity" to take a sabbatical from his accounting firm and that their plan is to travel for six weeks, staying at a family cabin in Wisconsin and going on a moose-sighting adventure in Maine.

"Retirement looks kind of good as a woman in her mid-50s at this point, but to be really honest, I just want to cook again for my kids, so that's my plan, to start working my way through the Julia Child cookbook," Hammond said.

Museum Board of Trustees member Holly Cheeseman said Wednesday that Hammond's departure will close one door and open another.

"We're sorry to see her go. She's given eight terrific years to the museum, but we understand life presents opportunities, and you need to take them," Cheeseman said.

The board hopes to interview candidates for the position next week, she said, but it's unlikely that a new executive director will be named before the museum's Aug. 10 birthday celebration. This is the museum's 20th year.

Museum Board of Trustees President Carla Barone could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In March, rumors of the museum's financial troubles fueled speculation that it would be closing its doors. At the time, Hammond and Barone defended the museum's financial situation, saying the museum wasn't closing.

Hammond shot down questions Wednesday linking her departure to financial troubles.

"We've (the museum) been able to pay back a lot of debt this year, and with the new geothermal heating-and-cooling system, our expenses are lower than they've been," Hammond said. "I would not have left if I felt the museum was in trouble. I felt like the museum was in a good place, it felt like it was the right time. It's a happy thing."

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