Director, Audience Research and Evaluation
As Director of Audience Research and Evaluation, Lindsay Maldonado oversees Shedd’s Audience Research and Evaluation department and is responsible for providing insight into Shedd’s audience and understanding of the visitor experience. Maldonado draws on her 10 plus years of experience working in informal learning institutions to lead the development, implementation, and management of institutional audience research and evaluation efforts. Maldonado and her team are key to assuring Shedd is providing the best visitor experience for a large portion of Shedd’s nearly two-million yearly visitors.
Maldonado’s interest in informal learning research began as an undergraduate student where she worked at the Chicago Children’s Museum conducting quantitative and qualitative research that supported the identification of exhibit and program strategies that promoted collaborative learning and engaged families in STEM learning. Maldonado took great interest in informal learning settings after her work at the Chicago Children’s Museum and continued along this career path in informal learning with work in both informal education and research. She worked as the lead research assistant for Garibay Group, a nationally recognized audience research and consulting firm in Chicago. Maldonado also worked as an educator and program coordinator at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where she led the development of adult, family, and children’s programs. Additionally, she worked as the youth and family director at the Irving Park YMCA where she provided day-to-day leadership and guidance to early childhood, youth, teen and family programs.
Maldonado started at Shedd in 2010 as a Research and Evaluation Specialist. Since then, in her role as Director of Audience Research and Evaluation, Maldonado has become instrumental in leading Shedd’s efforts to better understand its visitors and their experience, lending her expertise to the development and implementation of numerous visitor studies centered on understanding how Shedd visitors engage with the aquatic animal world and what they take away from their experience. In conjunction with her position at Shedd, she is currently a doctoral student at Erikson Institute and Loyola University Chicago, studying applied child development. Maldonado’s research interests include investigating and understanding the role of informal learning institutions on children’s development of environmental literacy, and the role these institutions play in connecting families and children to the natural world. Additional research interests include: family learning and engagement as well as cultural variation in learning and engagement.
Maldonado currently serves as a member of many Chicago Wilderness groups and task forces, including the Leave No Child Inside Leadership Taskforce, Mighty Acorns Membership and Impact Working Group, and the Chicago Wilderness Evaluation Working Group. She is also a founding member of the Chicago Cultural Organizations Research Network (CCORN). Maldonado also shares her knowledge with students as an adjunct faculty in child development at Harold Washington College. Maldonado’s leadership and research expertise has aided the Chicago community in a variety of ways.