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South Coast Leadership: Amanda McMullen

Amanda McMullen

In our ongoing blog series about leadership on the South Coast, today we feature Amanda McMullen, President & CEO of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Amanda has already made a huge impact on the Museum and our community since she took on this role less than one year ago. After an extensive national search, Amanda was hired to lead the Museum staff and volunteers on their dynamic quest of historic preservation and education. When asked about her role and her leadership advice, here’s what she had to say.

What have you enjoyed most since taking on the role of President & CEO of the Whaling Museum?

It’s been an incredible first ten months for me in this role with many highlights including the Panorama, the Lighting the Way public programming that unearthed the significant contributions of women on the SouthCoast, and the opening of the Captain Paul Cuffe Park and Exhibition.

Inspiration is readily found every time I walk through the Museum and hear our docents and volunteers leading groups, and especially in our Collections Management areas where I get to see our curatorial team bring our rich shared history to life.

Our biggest challenges are time and money – there’s never enough of either to do all you want. That’s when patience and planning need to play a key role and I’ve been so fortunate to work with a skilled and thoughtful leadership team to intentionally and strategically map out our coming years. Priorities for us include a long-term display for the Panorama, a vibrant children’s learning lab, dynamic exhibitions that create dialogue and inquiry, and a robust educational program that helps visitors of all ages interpret and be empowered by our collection.

Can you give one piece of leadership advice that has helped you stay on track and reach your goals?

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was inspired from a Mark Twain quote about “eating a live frog every morning.” The spirit of this is to work on your hardest project as the very first thing you do. Tackling that obstacle first helps you avoid procrastination and paves the way to being more effective throughout the day and week. And the satisfaction that comes from confronting your hardest hurdle gives you a huge boost!

Tackle your biggest challenges FIRST

It’s clear that Amanda’s vision and drive are helping her to achieve some admirably ambitious goals for the Museum. If you’ve never been to the Whaling Museum, or it’s been a while since your last visit, I encourage you to check it out. Whether you stop by for a special event, or just decide to browse the current exhibits on display, you will not be disappointed. For more information, visit

Caitlin Joseph