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Our Team

Anna Hehman next to telescope

Anna Hehman, Executive Director

I was lucky enough to grow up in the country where the night sky is incredibly clear, and often filled with gorgeous, vibrant stars. I remember lying on blankets in our yard as a kid looking for shooting stars with my family. The beauty of the universe is incredible, and I love learning more about it through my role at the Observatory. It's an honor to work at such a historic institution, and I love telling the Observatory's story and sharing our mission with funders, members, donors, and the public. 

I'm also responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the Observatory, as well as ensuring the Observatory's future through strategic planning and fund development. If you're interested in learning more about getting involved with the Observatory or supporting our work, please reach out to me!

513-321-5186 ext 3

Dr. Wes Ryle

Dr. Wes Ryle, Astronomer

My childhood interest in astronomy began with a book called ‘Our Universe’ from National Geographic. After reading and rereading that book many times, my passion for the sciences led me toward undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics from Western Kentucky University. At WKU, I also had my first exposure to observational astronomy research and quickly realized that I wanted to make a career in astronomy. I earned my masters in physics and PhD in astronomy from Georgia State University, spending many nights collecting data at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.

I spent 16 years at Thomas More University teaching astronomy and physics while serving as director of their campus observatory. The joy of science outreach also led me to volunteering at the Cincinnati Observatory for nearly a decade before assuming the role of astronomer. I’m heavily involved in program and event planning at the observatory as well as providing a source of astronomical knowledge and expertise.

Click here to learn more about Wes

Craig Niemi looking through telescope

Craig Niemi, Facilities and Collections Manager

I was introduced to astronomy by my grandfather when I was just knee-high to his telescope. I still remember that remarkable view of Jupiter. My wife Valerie and I joined the Observatory more than 20 years ago and became active with the Friends of Observatory as board members and history presenters. It's been a privilege to work with so many who are committed to the mission of the Observatory.

513-321-5186 ext 4

Kelsey Stryffe holding telescope

Kelsey Stryffe, Visitor Experience Coordinator

My fascination with the stars began at a very young age when my mom received a telescope for Christmas one year. To this day I will never forget the image of the moon through that small lens. I have been a stargazer ever since. The Cincinnati Observatory allows me to bring both my love of history and the cosmos together in very unique ways. As a graduate from Miami University with a degree in Art History, and a career built on interpretation, I understand the importance that tangible history experiences bring to the public. The Cincinnati Observatory makes history and the cosmos come alive and I feel very fortunate to be a part of a team that can make this magic happen.

513-321-5186 ext 1

Samantha Pepper in observatory building

Samantha Pepper, Education Manager

One of my earliest experiences with astronomy was seeing a picture of Earth from the Moon. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and instilled in me a deep curiosity about our planet and its solar system. Growing up I was obsessed with all things space and science fiction. As I got older my interests broadened to include all of the branches of science, which lead me to pursue a degree in science education. I have taught science-based lessons at many different institutions, including nature centers, museums and zoo. I was drawn to the Cincinnati Observatory because of the many things it has to offer, from science education to a rich and deep history. I am so excited to teach at the Cincinnati Observatory because it gives me the opportunity to inspire others to love space and science as much as I do.

513-321-5186 ext 2

Nicole Capella holding telescope

Nicole Capella, Event Manager

My interest in astronomy began as a child at science camp. I saw the models of spaceships and learned how to make bottle rockets. The vastness of outer space is what fascinated me the most. Wonder at the intangible became my true fascination which led me to get my Master of Arts in Philosophy. I now teach philosophy at Thomas More University and Gateway Technical and Community College. At the Cincinnati Observatory, I try to bring the wonder of the vastness of space to the students we encounter in schools and libraries around Cincinnati.

513-321-5186 ext 2

Natalia Tooley holding telescope

Natalia Tooley, Outreach Educator

My interest in the night sky began with my father taking my brothers and me camping as children. There was nothing better to me than traveling far enough away from civilization that you could look up and see thousands of stars in the sky. Not only has working for the Cincinnati Observatory given me the opportunity to educate the public on the night sky, but it has taught me so much about the history of my hometown. I am very happy that my environmental studies degree and my experience in nature and history education has brought me here.

513-321-5186 ext 2

Mandy Askins

Mandy Askins, Assistant Collections Manager

I've been in love with space for as long as I can remember. From a third grade report on how I wanted to be a space scientist when I grew up, to immersing myself in science fiction, then to a career dedicated to Cold War, nuclear and Space Race history that brings to light our region’s notable innovations and global significance. I feel honored to assist in preserving unique histories, such as the Observatory, for generations to come with the diverse experience I’ve gained over my career in the museum field. The Cincinnati Observatory is a place that celebrates our collective heritage, reminding us that we all live under the same, vast sky.

513-321-5186 ext 5

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