New Benetech Board Member Spotlight: Perspectives from Rayanne DarensbourgBy Carrie Motamedi, posted on May 3, 2023
Rayanne Darensbourg has over two decades of experience in the nonprofit and education sectors and is currently the CEO of Children’s Museum in Houston. She has a significant background related to the work Benetech does, including a focus on learning differences. Benetech is honored to have Rayanne as a Board member and we invite you to learn more about Rayanne and her work by reading the excerpts below from a recent session where she presented as an honored guest meeting with Benetech employees.
On her current role as CEO of Children’s Museum Houston and its’ place in the community:
Children’s Museum Houston (CMH) is one of the largest in the country, and probably one of the most well-known children’s museums in the world. Part of the reason it is so recognized is our playful architectural design as well as the size of our museum, and our exhibits. It’s also because of our innovation; We’ve really done an exceptional job with our physical space for children to create and to explore the quintessential questions of childhood – answering: How does it work? Why does it move? — those questions that children are all curious about. Maintaining that in in a museum space for parents and children to explore, paired with our community outreach, allows us to fulfill our vision of meeting children regardless of where they are and to ensure that we are at the front of supporting their learning and curiosity, and engaging their parents.
We have over 1,200 partners across the Houston area, where our outreach efforts engage in STEAM topics like art and science that are fostering social, emotional learning. We go where the kids are. Museums historically have not been viewed as a place where everyone feels as though they belong, and they can walk into right.
Reflecting on the importance of equitable access:
As a child I never went to the museum, and part of that reason is that one, my parents were just busy and working hard, but the other part of that, is there was this perception that it’s a place where maybe only people with money go; people with their name on the wall, or the building. That’s where you go and you do not touch things. Well, all those perceptions are still here and relevant in 2023, and the great thing we do at CMH, is break down those barriers of access, and that’s why I am here.
How her career and interests align with joining the Benetech Board:
My past work, prior to joining CMH has been in education and nonprofit sector. At one point I also I lived in D.C. and worked in the government sector after completing my Masters in public administration at Old Dominion University; I love thinking about what we can do with our public resources in a way that benefits and values our community. It’s always been a passion of mine and so, when Benetech was introduced to me by Tracy Weeden, who I worked for at Neuhaus Education Center and is a member of the Benetech Advisory Council, the more she and I spoke and shared our passion for accessibility and ideas around how to grow in this space of making sure that those that do not have access, do – it made me think about how I can give of my talents and my strengths in a way that can build Benetech and support the work that the organization does around equity and education. There’s passion here, and we all want children to succeed, and we also want them to experience living to their fullest potential. Benetech is part of the solution for a group in the world that has not had those same opportunities and access, and Benetech is providing that.