Lynda A. Bender remembers mid-2005 when the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage was just a construction site. Now, it's a hub of cultural education and events under her leadership.
The museum on Monday announced that Bender will become its executive director on June 25. Bender replaces Judi Feniger, who explore other career opportunities.
"I got started here when the museum was far from finished, and I've really enjoyed the job I've had here," Bender said. "I'm really looking forward to stepping up to this new challenge."
Bender serves as the museum's director of education and public programs. She launched the "Stop the Hate - Youth Speak Out!" student essay contest. It gives area students the opportunity to offer suggestions to get rid of discrimination. Since 2009, the program has received 6,500 entries.
Bender said she didn't have specific goals for her new position, but believes Feniger provided a template for her to continue extending the museum's reach in the community.
"Under the direction of (Feniger), the museum is beginning to its footing in the community," Bender said. "People are very much aware we're here and of our mission of diversity and tolerance and engaging with communities from all over the city.
"I really think this is going to be a great time for the museum. I really think people will see this as an integral part of Beachwood."