President & CEO, Space Center Houston
Manned Space Flight Education Foundation
William T. Harris oversees the strategic direction of the space exploration learning destination, Space Center Houston. With approximately 450 employees and contractors, Space Center Houston is the No. 1 international attraction in the greater Houston area, generating a $118.7 million annual economic impact, 1,710 jobs and $53.7 million in personal income. The center is a nonprofit, Smithsonian Affiliate, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center, a Certified Autism Center and named “Best Museum in Texas” by USA Today.
Joining the foundation and center in April 2016, Harris has more than 37 years in nonprofit leadership including senior positions at museums and universities, where he led numerous multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns, principal and major gifts, marketing, communications, government relations and strategy development.
Harris was at the California Science Center Foundation as senior vice president of development and marketing, overseeing all external affairs including board relations, campaigns, annual and membership programs, public funding, marketing and communications. Harris was a leader on the team to bring the space shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center, including its funding, promotion, transport, communications, marketing and exhibit opening.
He directed a $165 million campaign creating a major new expansion called Ecosystems which nearly doubled the center’s exhibit space presenting an unprecedented blend of live plants and animals, and hands-on science exhibits in 11 immersive environments. It also established a neighborhood science-based elementary school serving 650 children.
Prior leadership roles include multiple positions at the University of California, Los Angeles; the RAND/UCLA Center for Soviet Studies; the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts in Boston; and the Boston University School of Medicine. He served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and is fluent in Spanish.
He serves as the chair of the board of directors and executive committee of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC). He is also a member of the board of directors and chair of the grants committee for the QueensCare Charitable Foundation, is a member of the board of directors for the Greater Houston Partnership and serves as board vice president of the Association of Science Museum Directors (ASMD).
Harris holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He earned certificates in Community Health and the Delivery of Health Services at Tufts and in development from The Fundraising Institute at Boston University School of Communications.