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Alyssa Leier named as new executive director of The Exploration Place

Alyssa Leier

The Exploration Place has appointed Alyssa Leier as its new executive director. Leier will be taking over for Tracy Calogheros, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm. With more than 11 years of dedicated service to the museum, including as curator, Leier brings a wealth of experience, passion, and commitment to her new role.

“The Exploration Place is such a valuable part of our community’s culture and shared heritage,” Leier said. “Under the leadership of Tracy, the impact of The Exploration Place’s work is not only recognized within our own community but provincially and nationally as well. It is my honour to lead this organization into this next chapter.”

Leier’s educational background is a strong foundation for her new role. She earned her Bachelor of Arts with a major in Archaeology and a minor in First Nations Studies with distinction at Simon Fraser University in tk’emlups and Vancouver. In addition, Alyssa has completed numerous courses in cultural resource management, museology and conservation with various organizations, including the University of Victoria. Her diverse education and experience as an archaeologist in Cultural Resource Management have equipped her with invaluable skills in research, conservation, artifact identification, and exhibit creation.

Leier’s journey at The Exploration Place is a testament to her dedication and growth. She started in 2013 as a summer student, and her exceptional skills and expertise led to her stepping into the role of assistant archivist later that year. In 2016, Alyssa advanced to the position of curator, leading the curatorial team through exhibit design, installation, and research. As part of the organization’s leadership team, she has played a crucial role in guiding the museum’s direction over the past decade.

Leier’s role in the Museum’s efforts towards decolonization and repatriation has been significant. Her experience as an archaeologist and researcher, coupled with her dedication to truth and reconciliation, has been instrumental. Over the past decade, the trust and understanding established between The Exploration Place and the Lheidli T’enneh, largely due to Alyssa’s work, has stood as an example to other museums nationwide. Museums across Canada have sought her guidance as they initiate relationships with First Nations in their own regions.

Leier has contributed significantly to The Exploration Place’s ongoing success, and her work has garnered several prestigious awards for the organization. In 2017, the Hodul’eh-a: A Place of Learning gallery was awarded the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming in partnership with the Lheidli T’enneh, also receiving the BC Museums Association Award of Merit for Exhibitions. In 2020, The Exploration Place and the Gouchie family were the recipients of the Jeanne Clarke Award for Outstanding Service for the Mary Gouchie: Hubodulh’eh exhibit. In 2023, Alyssa was personally recognized by the Prince George Chamber of Commerce as one of the community’s Top Figures Under 40.

Leier also volunteers her time as an advocate for the sector as a council member for the BC Museums Association.

Leier’s appointment as executive director marks a significant milestone for The Exploration Place, as she becomes the organization’s first Indigenous leader. She is energized and motivated by seeing all the museum has accomplished and knowing how much more it can collectively do.

“As a member of Okanagan First Nation, I am passionate about reconciliation and the decolonization of the museum sector. Museums have a public responsibility to our communities to tell a more comprehensive and representative history that is relevant, engaging, and educational. The Exploration Place has been an industry leader in this work, and it is my privilege to continue guiding it.” 

“The Exploration Place has been a jewel in the community for the past 25 years, and going forward, with Alyssa Leier at the helm, I am sure that it will remain a vibrant and integral part of the city and Regional District,” said Todd Whitcombe, board president. “We thank Tracy Calogheros for all of her hard work and dedication to The Exploration Place. She leaves it in good hands with Alyssa.”

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