By Mary Alice Hartsock
Joe Resnick’s mission is to keep you safe, yet he wants you to be unaware that he exists. The latter goal might be a challenge, because he seems to be everywhere at all times, scurrying through the Academy’s corridors to meetings, responding to staff reports of building problems, and helping visitors find nearby exhibits or presentations.
As Senior Director of Technology and Infrastructure, Resnick arrives at the Academy before 7 a.m. to make sure that the day begins smoothly for staff and visitors. On his checklist are issues ranging from the air-handling systems and elevators to the Academy’s network, phone system, electricity, and sidewalk safety.
By 8 a.m. he is making his rounds, checking in with exhibits staff and mobilizing contractors, mailroom workers, information technology staff, and building operations crews to address expected and unexpected issues in the museum and behind the scenes.
“From my point of view, everything in the building is the same as a computer,” he says. “It has a maintenance cycle, a lifetime, maintenance requirements, and inputs and outputs. You have to understand how things work together and the impact of one thing on another.”
After 16 years at the Academy, Resnick knows every single nook and cranny of the museum, and he understands how a problem in one part of the building can affect the operation of the Academy as a whole.
He was originally hired as the Academy’s “Y2K guy,” and he visited every computer in the building with a floppy disk to prepare the staff for any potential disasters that could occur when the clock struck 2000. He made the Academy’s first technology inventory database and soon was hired by the Phycology Department as a database administrator.
By the early 2000s, Resnick was running the Academy’s Information Technology Department, helping staff to integrate quickly evolving technology into their jobs. Several years after he received his master’s degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in technology management, he was promoted to additionally oversee the Academy’s building operations and public safety teams.
Resnick brings a systematic perspective, common sense, and charismatic leadership skills to the Academy’s interdepartmental teams. He is involved in the Academy’s Experience Planning Committee, which works to create a positive experience for museum visitors. He works closely with Academy and Drexel staff to prepare for potential disaster and emergency situations and to coordinate with Information Resources and Technology teams across both campuses. He is also part of an Academy committee focusing on making the institution and visitor experience more sustainable.
All of this makes Resnick practically an expert at customer service, and among his most important duties are listening to staff members’ concerns about building safety and security and setting priorities for addressing them. He has a rapport going with just about every Academy employee, and he talks with visitors regularly to gauge their impressions of the building and exhibits.
“I want you to enjoy the education and experience without being distracted by the building,” Resnick says. “And I’d want you to think that there must be 30 of me.”
This Academy originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Academy Frontiers.