ECHO names Charlie Smith interim executive director

Vermont Business Magazine ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain (ECHO) has appointed Charlie Smith as the museum’s interim executive director. Smith is stepping into the role effective June 13th, as Phelan Fretz, founding director retires after leading the science museum on the Burlington Waterfront for the past 20 years. Smith, a seasoned business and non-profit professional, will head the organization during the search for a permanent executive director.

“I recently visited ECHO and was so inspired,” Smith said. “The engagement, learning, and sense of joy on kids’ faces is so incredible to witness. I am honored to support the ECHO team through this important transition as they continue delivering learning moments that spark lifelong curiosity.”

After a career in banking and state government, Smith has established himself as a skillful interim leader working for organizations including Vermont PBS, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Flynn, and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.

“On behalf of the Board, we welcome Charlie and thank him for stepping in as interim leader”, said Kristin Carlson, ECHO Board Chair. “His experience will ensure ECHO thrives while we launch our search for a permanent director”.

To learn more about ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, visit:

About ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is an innovative science and nature museum located on the Burlington Waterfront. Open daily, ECHO encourages visitors to view the natural environment as part of their neighborhood and to explore, learn about, and consider opportunities for stewardship. Since 1995, we have taught more than 3 million visitors about the role of science in our culture and lives. ECHO leverages its unique setting to inspire and engage families in the joy of scientific discovery, wonder of nature, and care of Lake Champlain.

Visitors explore over 100 interactive family experiences, 70 live species, seasonal changing exhibits, and our Northfield Savings Bank immersive 3D Theater. New in 2021, ECHO has been reinvented by all new permanent and highly interactive science exhibits, Awesome Forces and Engineer It!. Visitors of all ages tackle daily engineering challenges at our tinkering bench and test zones as well as delight in discovering the amazing processes that have shaped the Lake Champlain Basin and our Earth.

6.13.2022. (BURLINGTON, Vt.) – ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain