Museum Education Roundtable
Internal Operations Strategic Planning


      • Museum Education Roundtable (MER), publishers of the Journal of Museum Education, seeks a partner to facilitate the development of a new internal operations strategic plan for the organization. 
      • The new three-year strategic plan will be finalized and approved by the board during or following the annual board retreat in Summer 2022.
      • The selected partner will work closely with members of the MER Board of Directors to develop a plan that strengthens the core relationships and operating mechanisms of the Board in alignment with its mission, vision, and equity statement. 


The goal of this work is to produce an actionable strategic plan that enables MER to solidify the tremendous internal growth and change of the last several years into usable and transferable systems and strong relationships between board members, staff, and Journal contributors (editors, authors and reviewers). 


Founded in 1969, MER (a registered 501(c)3),  is one of the longest-running museum education service organizations. MER began publishing in 1973 as Roundtable Reports documented the organization’s efforts to capture best practices and emerging trends in the field of museum education. Since 1985, MER has published similar content under the Journal of Museum Education title. MER members receive the Journal as a benefit of membership. Published 4 times a year, each issue consists of a guest-edited section focused on a specific theme and articles about new research; current trends; tools, frameworks, and case studies; perspectives; and book, exhibit, and program reviews. Journal articles—written by museum, education, and research professionals—explore such relevant topics as learning theory; visitor evaluation; teaching strategies for art, science, and history museums; and the responsibilities of museums as public institutions. In its 2016-2020 plan, MER identified the Journal of Museum Education (JME) as its most unique and effective tool for serving the museum field, and sought to align board efforts and focus around supporting this product. The board organized its board members into two main action teams, Communications and Editorial, with a Leadership Team that oversaw the administration of the board. Under this structure, MER built up and continues to maintain an active social media presence and blog, which are the purview of the Communications Team. The Editorial Team supports the work of the co-editors by reviewing and approving guest editor proposals, connecting with potential authors, reviewers, and guest editors, and identifying articles to be included in the publishers’ open access programs. Once a year, MER hosts its annual forum, an in-person gathering and workshop with guest speakers in the city where the board is meeting for its annual retreat (public health needs dependent). 


Museum Education Roundtable inspires innovative thinking for the field through its publications, programs, and active communications network. 


Empowering museum educators to transform the field through learning, community building, and innovative practice.


The Museum Education Roundtable (MER) is a nonprofit organization that publishes the Journal of Museum Education (JME). MER is committed to the core values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. We believe that as an organization, we have a professional responsibility to address the intersecting histories of oppression and resistance that shape hierarchies of privilege and power related to race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, ability and national origin and their role in museum education. We are committed to serving as advocates for these values to the wider field and through the Journal of Museum Education


      • Since the onset of a focused effort toward strategic planning in 2010, Museum Education Roundtable has made enormous strides toward stabilizing the organization for both growth and sustainability by channeling its resources and activities toward the core
      • product of the Journal of Museum Education one of the longest standing and most highly regarded peer-reviewed publications in the field. 
      • Negotiating a favorable publishing contract for the Journal of Museum Education fundamentally shifted MER’s business model from paying to publish to being paid to publish. This transition to Taylor and Francis Group has brought new levels of value as MER Members now receive a digital subscription to the Visitor Studies Association’s Journal, as well as easier access to the Journal of Museum Education’s digital archive.  
      • As its long-time Editor in Chief of the JME is stepping down, MER has transitioned its position to two equal Editors. This is an important and challenging step for the journal and has necessitated significant legacy planning. 
      • New efforts to engage customers (existing and potential) through social media, e-communications, online content, partnership with peer organizations, and onsite sales during national conferences successfully grew our membership base to 550, the highest recorded figure in MER history, before the onset of the pandemic. Since summer 2020, membership has been declining. It is time to reconsider the cost and benefits of membership for actual and potential members, and possible redesign our package to meet the needs of our field in the current context.
      • MER is engaged in efforts to change its internal culture and structures as well as its external products to be more diverse, just, and equitable. An internal Equity Taskforce was created to review and make concrete recommendations for implementation. This included the creation of an equity statement (approved by the whole board), a reform of the board recruitment and selection process, a shift from board member contributions to stipends for board members, and the creation of an equity fund. MER considers it essential that this work to be a pillar of the strategic plan.


      • Work with the strategic planning taskforce to develop an effective internal operations strategic planning process.
      • Work with the entire board to gather and synthesize relevant views and information to inform the process.
      • Write the first draft of the new strategic plan and help develop a review structure that engages and activates board members as editors.
      • Aid in editing a final draft of the plan.


The anticipated budget for this project is $8,000-$12,000, not inclusive of travel to attend the Board Retreat (if it takes place in person) in Washington, D.C. in July 2022,. MER functions as a primarily volunteer-led organization, with an operating budget of $66,800. Proposals with higher budgets will require board approval.  


      • Regular digital conversations with MER strategic plan taskforce and board members to plan the process and gather necessary information.
      • Attendance at the board’s annual meeting in July 2022 (format of fully virtual or hybrid still to be determined) 
      • Creation of a first draft of the strategic plan and a review process for it.
      • Incorporation of edits into a final document.


      • Diversity of applicants, prioritizing teams with BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, and people with disabilities working on the project.
      • Experience leading strategic planning
      • Experience leading fiscal planning
      • Experience embedding DEAI in institutional planning
      • Experience with museum, educational, or journal-based organizations
      • Project approach
      • Ability to quickly build trust and effective communication with the team
      • Experience working with a dispersed team
      • Cost and ability to work within the timeline


      • Proposals due: January 21, 2022 
      • Interviews: February 1 – 4, 2022
      • Notification and start of contract: March 1, 2022
      • March 2022: Work with MER strategic planning taskforce to develop a plan for the overall process.
      • April-May 2020: Lead full board in the process.
      • May 12, 2022 1 – 3pm EST synchronous time at full board meeting
      • May-June 2022: First draft of strategic priorities drafted for review with MER strategic planning taskforce
      • July TBD, 2022 present final draft at full board retreat, to be held over zoom or in Washington, DC, TBD (revisions process TBD)


All questions or inquiries must be submitted in writing to Braden Paynter ([email protected]). The last date to submit questions will be January 14, 2022. Questions and responses will be summarized with answers provided to all firms not later than 6pm ET January 14, 2022. All questions and answers will be shared with all firms. The source of the questions will remain anonymous.


Provide name, address, URL, telephone numbers. Include name, title and email address of the individual who will serve as primary contact. 

Project Approach
MER is in the process of reflecting on the many ways its processes have been supportive of existing power structures. MER is looking for someone whose approach can further this reflection process and develop a strategic plan that puts those reflections into action. Describe your approach, style, process, and experience leading organizations through a planning process that embeds equity, inclusion, and diversity, and is relevant to the evaluation criteria listed above. Please provide concrete examples of your past work to illustrate your approach. 

Provide Biographies of Key Staff
Please include a summary of experience of all key staff. 

Proposals should include a list describing projects that are similar in scale that your firm has completed. Please include at least one previous work product (e.g. strategic plan or  in-depth case study) and 2-3 references. Please highlight work embedding DEAI principles in planning. 

Schedule and Timeline
Proposals should include the proposed work schedule, timeline, and deliverable resulting from each task outlined in the deliverable and timeline sections. The contract is expected to begin March 2022 and to be completed by August 2022. 

Proposals must include the estimated cost for all work related to tasks and deliverables outlined in the schedule/timeline. 

Please submit your proposal by January 21, 2022. 

Submit To
Braden Paynter, Board Member, Museum Education Roundtable
[email protected]

Museum Education Roundtable Strategic Plan 2016-2020
Please see the attached document for a more thorough overview of the Museum Education Roundtable’s recent strategic successes, as well as vision for the future.