GEORGE SPARKS
2021 Recipient of the Leadership in Global Engagement Award
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George Sparks has been the President & CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science since November 2004. He spent 24 years in the electronics measurement business at Hewlett-Packarge and Agilent Technologies. His career included marketing, sales, and general management of global business in software, systems, and services.

George’s career and impact have literally traversed the globe. As an executive for Hewlett Packard, he ran global projects for more than 20 years, leading research and development and marketing teams in Scotland, Japan and Germany. In one role, he led a team of 1800 technical support people in 16 different time zones, integrating many different cultural expectations and norms. And as vice president for Hewlett Packard’s wireless communications business, his team created tools and software for cellular technology developers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. While leading international teams spread across the world, George flew 2 million miles, meeting with team members and customers.
As president & CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, George has guided the museum and supported staff through a multi-year process to establish a relationship with Madagascar and to bring an internationally renowned scientific campaign from Stony Brook University to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The Madagascar Project, now run from the Museum, seeks to illuminate the deep history of evolution of life on islands. Having generated dozens of grants, hundreds of scientific articles, and thousands of fossil specimens, this project continues to produce incredible science including last year's publication of the "crazy beast" in Nature Magazine.
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George provided the overall Museum leadership and trustee management necessary to garner approval for an international repatriation of 30 vigango, or memorial statues, to the Mijikenda of coastal Kenya. The Mijikenda believe vigango embody the soul of deceased elders, and the Museum’s belief is that it should not be in the business of curating souls. After a 12-year effort, that repatriation was successfully consummated in 2019. In 2016, the Museum lent three Russian gem-carving sculptures by Vasily Konovalenko from its collection to the Moscow Kremlin Museums for a three-month exhibition. Believing that Museums are fundamentally about sharing culture, George approved the loan at a time when most American museums refused to loan objects to the Russian Federation.

Additionally, George participates in the G12 – a formal group of 12 of the largest natural history Museums in the U.S. – exchanging ideas and best practices on critical topics such as integrating collections and repatriating cultural artifacts to colonized peoples.