Executive Director

Kristen Fries


As executive director for Edwardsville Children’s Museum, Kristen Fries is more than an advocate for the Museum—she’s an advocate for children across the Metro East.

Kristen, an Edwardsville native, received a B.S. in Science Preprofessional Studies from the University of Notre Dame and an M.Ed in Education from Loyola University. She started her career in Chicago where she earned the AmeriCorps Award for National Service while serving as a volunteer teacher and spent more than 10 years in educational publishing. However, her heart was always with her hometown. After moving back in 2016, Kristen and her young children spent hours playing at ECM. Her love of the Museum combined with her professional experience landed her a position on our board of directors.

As board president, Kristen helped lead a complete overhaul of the Museum’s leadership, structure, and strategy, resulting in consistent profitability for the first time in our 20-year history. In September 2021, she served as interim director, and four months later, stepped into the role of executive director. In addition to curating educational exhibits and planning community events, Kristen focuses on building collaborations and partnerships to help ECM—along with all of our young visitors—grow and thrive.

“We have big dreams for ECM, and the great thing is, so many businesses and individuals in Edwardsville share those same dreams,” Kristen said. “Our generous community makes this incredible space for learning through play possible and allows us to bring new educational opportunities to a bigger audience. It’s been amazing to watch ECM evolve over the past six years, and we look forward to more exciting changes in the near future.”

Kristen Fries

Operations Manager

Angie Close

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Angie Close is our wonderful Operations Manager at ECM. She is focused on the functionality and upkeep of the museum’s building, grounds, and exhibits. Angie plays a key role in the museum’s success as an impressive, long-lasting center for learning and growth for the local community. Please contact Angie for inquiries regarding ECM’s building, grounds, management, exhibit upkeep, membership, and donations. 

She is a mom of 3 beautiful girls, and her husband Loren is a longtime friend and volunteer of ECM. We are so lucky to have Angie on the ECM staff. She is motivated, passionate, kind, and talented. We don’t know what we’d do without her!

Program Manager

Amanda Pilkington

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Amanda serves as ECM’s amazing Program Manager. Her role is focused on operational functions, including staff management, accounting, and programming. Amanda is crucial to the success of educational and outreach programs the museum offers. Please contact Amanda for more information on ECM programs, camps, educational events, and staffing opportunities.

Amanda is a mom of 3 and lives in Edwardsville with her adorable family. We could never fully express how much we appreciate all she does for ECM. She is an asset to our success and gives her all to help our kiddos and families. 

Marketing & Events Manager

Heather Zuck

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Heather is our fantastic Marketing & Events Manager at ECM. She has her BS in Sociology and Psychology and previously worked in Family Advocacy for Riverbend Head Start. Born and raised in Illinois, she currently lives in Edwardsville with her Husband (Josh), and two adorable kiddos.

When asked what she loves most about working at the museum, she said “I love seeing parents and kids playing excitedly together, discovering new things, using their imaginations, bonding, and making beautiful memories.”

Please contact Heather to book an event at ECM or our train depot. We have hosted a variety of events for a wide range of guests, including corporate parties, birthday celebrations, baby showers, and meetings. Heather does a wonderful job ensuring our guests have the best possible experience at our facility. 

We are beyond grateful for Heather and her many talents! She not only handles all events at ECM, but she also runs our social media and marketing initiatives. She is truly a blessing to us and the families we serve.


What is Heather’s favorite thing about the museum?

“Honestly, I love it all! We are always changing, always updating, always looking for new ways to have fun and learn. We all work hard to offer unique and exciting opportunities for families all throughout the year.”