Assuming the role of interim chief operating officer at the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame felt more organic than Peter Maiurro expected.
“I never anticipated this, but when I think about it, it’s actually a very good convergence of interests of mine,” Maiurro said. “I love history and storytelling; I’ve always loved the Olympic movement, so this grew on me and has become a very natural place for me to be.”
When Maiurro came to the museum in October 2016, he was on loan from El Pomar Foundation, where he had ascended to the rank of senior vice president after beginning his career as a 19-year-old intern in 2003. On July 1, Maiurro officially took over as chief communications and business affairs officer for the museum, which is expected to open in spring 2020.
A graduate of Fountain-Fort Carson High School, Maiurro earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Colorado College and a master’s in public administration from UCCS. He and his wife, Kate Faricy Maiurro, live in the Gold Hill Mesa neighborhood with their two young daughters, Elizabeth and Josephine.
Maiurro sat down with the Business Journal this week to discuss the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, which he called “yet another crown jewel for Olympic City USA.”
Talk about your work experience prior to the Olympic Museum.
In the summer of 2003, I did an internship at El Pomar Foundation and was offered the opportunity to stay throughout the school year, which I did my junior and senior years of college. Following graduation, I did the fellowship program at El Pomar from 2005 to 2007 and started on the full-time staff and was there until June 30 of this year. … I managed all of our legacy properties [at El Pomar]. I managed our team at Penrose House, at the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, and the Penrose Heritage Museum. Those three properties combined in a typical year hosted more than 100,000 visitors, so I had a little bit of that guest experience work. I also managed some projects for El Pomar in several rural communities throughout Colorado, so some of that external relations, or outward-facing work, was something that I had done as well.
In October 2016, I was given the opportunity to work on the museum project as an executive on loan from El Pomar. … From October 2016 until June 30, I was the interim chief operating officer… It was sort of the catch-all during my 2½-year interim work. Really it was working closely with our board of directors, helping to on-board our CEO, who’s been here a year now, working with exhibit and content partners, working closely with the [United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee] — really, given the nature of us being more like a startup organization, we all do everything and anything that needs to be done on any given day.
As of July 1, I came on [at the museum] full time. … My role will be working closely with and managing our communications, marketing and fundraising teams, so I’ll really be responsible for managing much of the external-facing work of the museum.
What was it like transitioning from El Pomar to the Olympic Museum?
It’s actually been a pretty smooth transition — I think partly because I’ve been working on the museum project for 2½ years. The museum really, truly is more of a startup environment. We have only three full-time staff members. Having worked closely with the board of directors and with lots of our other local, regional and national partners, I’m very comfortable and familiar with the project and have really enjoyed digging in and being involved in the very early stages of this exciting project. … I think El Pomar prepared me in many, many ways for professional experiences, community engagement and leadership.
… It’s been very exciting to watch the evolution of the progress — from design, fundraising, groundbreaking, the evolution of the construction, the significant development of exhibits and content, operationalizing the museum and starting to see staff, and planning for guest experience — all of those things have been exciting to be a part of from the ground floor.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I consider myself a pretty informal, hands-off leader — somebody that really wants to maximize the strengths of those around me and ensure that they feel supported and empowered for their own personal and professional fulfillment, while ensuring that as a team, we’re being productive and accomplishing things that are impactful and worthwhile.
Did you expect to stay in Colorado Springs?
I did not. When I was preparing to graduate from high school, I had the opportunity to attend both Notre Dame and West Point. Fairly late in the decision-making process I chose Colorado College primarily because I was fortunate enough to be a recipient of the Boettcher Scholarship. I really saw that as an incredible opportunity and stayed in Colorado Springs.
Then I thought that after Colorado College, I would likely go to law school or go back east, but then the opportunity to work at El Pomar Foundation … also kept me here. But I don’t have a single regret about staying here. I met my wife at El Pomar. … Our young daughters are Colorado Springs natives, and it’s a lot of fun to be involved in lots of different things that hopefully will be a small part of making this a community that they want to come back and live in.
What role do you think the museum will play in shaping the economic future of Colorado Springs?
It’s something that I think will be an important catalytic project for southwest downtown, but for Colorado Springs and really the state of Colorado. I think the museum is a natural fit here in Colorado Springs given the headquarters of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the flagship training center — more than half of the national governing bodies of sport are headquartered here. I think the museum is yet another crown jewel for Olympic City USA.
… I think that the southwest downtown area will continue to grow and evolve in a very exciting and impressive way in the next decade or more. I think that the museum as an anchor attraction and asset will really catalyze a fair bit of that growth. … We project that the museum will have between 350,000 to 400,000 visitors each year. We expect that more than 70 percent of those are visitors from outside Colorado Springs and, in many cases, outside of Colorado. I think it will certainly be a significant economic development activity for Colorado Springs.
Having another impressive and world-class cultural destination here in Colorado Springs will further add to the robust growth of this community and make it even more solidly a community and a destination that people want to visit and, in many cases, live in. Fundamentally, I think that it’ll add to the rich cultural fabric of this community and be a significant driver of economic development as well.
What have been the biggest challenges of building a museum from the ground up?
I think one of the biggest challenges of this project has been the very complex network of partners. Given our content, we have to ensure that we’re managing relationships with construction and design partners, with funders, with the USOPC, with athletes, with key organizations within the community. We’re very fortunate that those relationships are all very strong. It has just been a very complicated network of partners — government, nonprofit, for-profit, private individuals.
Any final thoughts?
The museum is really going to set the standard for inclusivity and accessibility and will really have some extraordinary interactive technology that is going to provide an exceptional guest experience. For all of us working on the museum project, the thing that is critically important and at the forefront of our minds on a daily basis is telling the inspiring stories of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes and ensuring that people understand the significance of the Olympic movement in the world today.
We are very grateful for the support of this community on the Olympic and Paralympic Museum Project. From donors to the city of Colorado Springs to El Paso County to construction partners to private citizens, this community has really rallied around this project and we plan to deliver an impressive, world-class experience.