Micah Parzen brings new view and vision to Museum of Man

Micah Parzen, who grew up in La Jolla, is the executive director of the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park. He has a unique professional background that includes a doctorate in anthropology, expertise as an employment attorney and business counselor, and significant nonprofit leadership experience as a board member for ElderHelp of San Diego and the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program.

Prior to joining the Museum of Man, Parzen was a partner at Luce, Hamilton & Scripps, LLP, where he served as the firm’s pro bono program coordinator.

After nearly a year at the helm of the region’s only museum of anthropology and archeology, Parzen has brought in a series of panels and exhibits to prove that anthropology can be intriguing and relevant. The recently opened exhibit, “Modern Day Mummy: The Art & Science of Mummification,” educates visitors about this ancient technique and showcases multiple mummies, including a man that was mummified in the mid-1990s.

What brought you to

La Jolla?

My parents packed our bags and moved my three older brothers and me from Chicago in 1971. As a 1 1/2-year-old, I didn’t have much say in the decision, but I can confidently report it was a great one. My mom was very involved in the Museum of Contemporary Art and the richness of the cultural community was a critical component of our upbringing. It made an enormous imprint on my life.

What makes this area special to you?

It is the nostalgia I feel about wandering the streets from Bird Rock to downtown La Jolla as young person finding my way in the world. There’s a memory on virtually every street corner for me.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I would bring back the Unicorn Theater on La Jolla Blvd.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Margaret Mead, Gary Snyder, James Taylor, and my wife and two sons.

What are your five favorite movies of all time?

Pollock, Harold and Maud, Dog Day Afternoon, On Golden Pond, and, of course, Rocky.

What is your most prized possession?

My wedding ring.

What do you do for fun?

I hike, kayak, tide pool, and museum-go.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Getting my Ph.D. in anthropology and making partner at Luce Forward were both huge accomplishments, but I have never been prouder than the day I was appointed executive director at the San Diego Museum of Man.

What is your philosophy of life?

Think and care. It’s basically what we want people to do when they leave the San Diego Museum of Man. Hopefully, they will think about an issue, other people, and/or themselves a little differently, and care a little more deeply about their fellow humans.