Mary Kay began her museum career as vice president for public affairs at the Strong Museum (National Museum of Play) in Rochester, New York where she was responsible for all marketing, communications and public affairs activities in the development and opening of the museum. After the museum opened she went on to establish MK Communications (1985) to offer museums and historic sites comprehensive services in strategic and operational planning, marketing and audience research, and friend and fund raising. Working in partnership with clients, MK Communications has helped scores of museums achieve their goals through strategic planning, museum/community partnerships, image enhancement, heightened public awareness, and renewed community support.
MK Communications recent projects include strategic planning for National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and Mackinac State Historic Park; audience research and marketing plans for Minnesota Historical Society and the Milwaukee Public Museum; and feasibility studies and development plans for the City of Phoenix, Arizona and the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Mary Kay is currently involved in the planning of the National Museum of Suburbia, in Johnson County, Kansas.
Beyond her client work, Mary Kay has a long record of service to the museum profession and the communities in which she has lived. She founded one of the first museum/cultural tourism organizations, The Museums of Rochester, and received the City of Rochester Award of Excellence for her work on behalf of the Rochester Sesquicentennial and the museum/community tourism partnership she initiated. In 1996, she founded and was program coordinator and instructor of the Marketing and Public Relations Institute for Museums and Cultural Organizations at the University of Kansas at Lawrence.
Mary Kay currently serves in the board of the Johnson County Museum as treasurer, and, previously has served on the board of the Children’s Museum of Kansas (chair and vice chair), American Association of Museums, and the Association of Midwest Museums. She is a founding member and former chair of the Marketing and Public Relations Committee of the American Association of Museums.