Apogee Awards Honorees: Joe Cox
Meet Joe Cox of Museum of Discovery and Science, an honoree in the Nonprofit category at the 2020 Apogee Awards
Since moving to the United States in 1996 from the United Kingdom, Joe led museums in Naples, Florida and Worcester, Massachusetts, before joining the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale in 2018. He is dedicated to developing strong community partnerships and is committed to connecting people to inspiring science.
Fun fact: My dad is English, and my mum is Maltese.
What is your favorite South Florida dining destination? There are so many favorites in South Florida, but having gained a few cooking skills during the COVID lockdown, making a full English Sunday Roast—with Yorkshire puddings, veggies, lashings of gravy and crispy roasted potatoes and enjoying dinner al fresco in my garden with a great group of friends (socially distanced) is perhaps the ultimate dining destination.
What do you like to do on weekends? Living in South Florida provides an opportunity to go outdoors to enjoy our incredible climate. Whether gardening at home or hiking and bird watching deep within the gorgeous landscape of Everglades National Park, I love to be out and exploring nature.
How do you unwind from a long day at work? There is something both relaxing and invigorating about diving into the pages of a great novel. Since childhood, I have loved the excitement of flying through space and discovering distant planets or journeying with elves and magicians through far off lands.
What is your favorite quote? “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This quote is from the Queen in Through the Looking Glass. If it were not for the impossible dreams of Thomas Edison, would we have invented the airplane? At the Museum of Discovery and Science, we believe in connecting people to inspiring science—and perhaps launching the next Edison’s dreams
From whom, or what, do you draw inspiration? I was walking through a museum years ago, and a young man on a fifth grade school field trip walked past me, with no clue that I was the museum director and said to his friend, “Dude, this place is like a playground for your mind.” That statement has stuck with me because play truly is the work of children, and our job is to create wonderful inspiring environments in which they can accomplish that work. Museums respond to the needs of their communities on so many levels, from the needs of children and their families to entire neighborhoods.
What has been the biggest accomplishment of your career? Throughout my career, I have focused on ensuring that diversity, equity, access and inclusion are embedded into the values of the museums I have had an opportunity to lead. This has resulted in tens of thousands of families being able to experience the incredible programs and opportunities at the museum thanks to initiatives such as “Museums for All” that is in place at the Museum of Discovery and Science.
What has been the most challenging moment in your career and how did you overcome it? On March 16, 2020, the Museum’s doors closed as a result of the COVID pandemic, and the impact on the cultural community was dramatic. While our doors may have been closed, the Museum remained open and accessible to the community, perhaps even more accessible than ever before. Thanks to the generous support of our donors and corporate partners, and the tireless work of our talented staff, the Museum has created more than 100 innovative virtual outreach programs, ranging from hurricane preparedness and slime making to animal encounters and early childhood professional development. Through these initiatives, our connection with the community has not only been maintained, but we have grown our audience significantly.
What advice would you give an up and coming professional? Having a strong network of peers is so critically important, build your career tribe and move through life with them.