Payne becomes Executive Director at The Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium

Part of the 16-acre Townsend-Grady Wildlife Preserve, which includes more than 1,400 feet of frontage on Sugar Creek, can be seen on the left side in this photo. Keuka Lake lies in the distance. The museum will front the the west side of Sugar Creek, farther away from the Keuka Lake shoreline.
Executive Director Natalie Payne

Executive Director Natalie Payne

The Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium’s (FLM&A) board of trustees recently appointed Natalie Payne as the new executive director, replacing Phil Lentini who is no longer with the organization. She has been involved with the FLM&A’s project development since its inception and served in a number of different positions including associate project director, director of communications and programs director.

Payne was elected to the organization’s original board of trustees in 2008, while she was acting curator and wine center manager at Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua. She resigned her board seat to take a paid position with the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium in 2010. Last year, she earned a Masters Degree in Management, with a focus in non-profit leadership, through a FLM&A -sponsored scholarship at Keuka College. She lives in Canandaigua with her husband Alex, one-year-old son Roland, and two Springer Spaniels.

After several moves, the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium’s field office is now located in a temporary modular space on its site – 3369 Guyanoga Road in Branchport – while construction is underway to reuse the former building, turning it into a museum exhibit hall with a small area to be outfitted as permanent office space. Work on the Creekside Center, the organization’s canoe and kayak livery on Sugar Creek, is slated to begin later this month and will allow programming to begin happening on-site. LeChase Construction Services from Rochester is the construction manager.

It is all part of Payne’s “Moving the Museum Forward” initiative, which — after several interruptions — is intended to get and keep the project on track. She feels that an onsite public presence is essential as the project continues to gain momentum.

“Moving the Museum Forward” includes an open house at the FLM&A site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday for the rest of the month of May. In addition, there are three family-oriented activities scheduled for the month:

  • May 16 – What’s that Song?, an early morning bird walk with expert birder Mahlon Hurst
  • May 23 – The Buzz on Bees and Other Bugs, a study of aquatic and terrestrial insects along the banks of Sugar Creek
  • May 30 – Take a Paddle, basic instruction and kayak skills on Sugar Creek with NYS-licensed professional guides

For more information and to register for any of these events, see

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *