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Andrea Svendsen, COO Retires from Virginia Living Museum

“Begin with the end in mind.” – Stephen Covey


Newport News, VA (May 13, 2022) – In March 2022, Andrea Svendsen, a longtime supporter of the Virginia Living Museum, retired from her role as Chief Operating Officer.  Andrea was drawn to the Virginia Living Museum as a volunteer with her son John because of her personal mission statement: to create wonderful family experiences and memories.  Over twelve years, Andrea served the museum as School Group Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Volunteer Manager, Guest Services Manager, Guest Services Director, Senior Director of Guest Experience, and finally as Chief Operating Officer.  

Andrea Svendsen earned her degree in Civil Engineering at North Carolina State University.  She was employed as an engineer and became the first female Senior Nuclear Manager at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.  She followed her family and her passions led her to St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School where she became principal.  

Andrea received the Virginia Living Museum’s highest staff award, the Sullivan Award, in 2012 and in 2017 recognizing her leadership. Her energy and unfailing commitment to exceptional guest experiences brought new ideas and delightful programs to fruition. 

Rebecca Kleinhample, Executive Director, points out that “Andrea embodies an authentic life of integrity, stewardship and community. Thank you Andrea, for your gifted ability to share and inspire so freely with intent and enthusiasm.”

Svendson is a Steven Covey fan who encourages everyone to write their personal mission statement as early as possible in their careers.  She elaborates, “I am a woman of God who values truth, peace, and kindness and I strive for continuous improvement.  I believe that the Museum is a community treasure given to us to protect and grow.  It is a resource for every member of the community at every stage of life.”  

The Virginia Living Museum is a leader in natural living exhibits! Native Virginia mammals, marine life, reptiles, amphibians, birds, plants and planets are presented in natural ecosystems and honored for their ability to connect people to nature through educational experiences that promote conservation. 

Accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (living exhibits) and the American Alliance of Museums (non-live collections), the Museum’s high standards are its hallmark, as only fourteen institutions share this designation in the country. Community volunteers outnumber staff by approximately 5:1 for incredible mission delivery. The Museum is a certified Virginia Green attraction dedicated to environmentally friendly practices and education. 

Created by the Warwick Rotary Club and Junior League of Hampton Roads in 1966, the Museum is an independent 501c3 organization, a successful public/private partnership with the City of Newport News and all guests.  The Virginia Living Museum is built by the community, beloved by the community, sustained by the community.

Located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News (I-64, exit 258-A), hours are 9 to 5 daily. Learn more at, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or call 757-595-1900.

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