Portrait of Academy Chief Operating Officer Leah Van der Mei
Portrait of Academy Chief Operating Officer Leah Van der Mei

As the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Government Affairs, Van der Mei is responsible for infrastructure, guest and building operations, and technology for the Academy. She also oversees the institution’s relationships with local government and community organizations.

Van der Mei joined the Operations Division at the Academy in 2008 during its grand reopening in Golden Gate Park. In addition to deftly ensuring smooth operations to welcome more than 1 million guests annually, Van der Mei played a critical role in shaping safety policies and protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. She founded and secured initial funding for Museums4Inclusion, an inclusive museum career development program and toolkit for individuals with disabilities, and secured initial funding through Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. Her deep commitment to inclusion has propelled the Academy to become a leading Bay Area employer for individuals with disabilities.

Van der Mei currently serves as vice chair of San Francisco Unified School District’s Parcel Tax Committee, board vice chair of The Arc San Francisco, and board member and government affairs committee member of the California Association of Museums.

Before joining the Academy, Van der Mei worked at the San Francisco Parks Alliance. She earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast and electronic communications at San Francisco State University. She resides in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.