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Photo by Hélène Allard René is really quite masterful at orchestrating the

Gemini Board (which he chaired from 1998-99). Jean-

generation of material required to support such

René as a symphony conductor – that’s a skill I aspire

meetings. To do this, he must speak many “languages”

to have someday as well.

(or using this metaphor, play many “instruments”) to extract documents from the administrative, science, engineering, branches,

and weave

development them


Jean-René as a gladiator: Jean-René served as Gemini’s interim director between the time


Matt Mountain left to take the

coherent information set, and make

helm at Space Telescope Science

sure they are posted electronically

Institute and the day I started as

by the due date. Then he works

Gemini’s director. In that time, he

his magic during the meetings to

demonstrated a singular resolve to

offer interpretation or clarification

not “screw around” in his decision-

when questions arise. At the end

making process and to ensure that

of each meeting, he and I assess the

his perspective was understood on

resolutions generated, discuss them

matters he felt were truly important.

with the senior staff, and take a


collective deep breath after the last

application of this facet of Jean-René’s

of our visitors departs for home.

persona is the time he advocated my

The underlying skill Jean-René uses

application for Gemini director.





to conduct the “Gemini symphony” is his ability to perceive beyond the spoken word and establish

While nudging me to apply for the position on what

connections between naturally disparate entities. In

seemed like countless occasions, I came to learn later

that sense, one of the distinctions between Jean-René

that he was also asserting this perspective in the

and so many of his peers is his ability to connect

company of some key individuals involved with the

on many levels with everyone around him. He is

recruitment. For obvious reasons, I did not participate

as adept at holding a conversation with the Cerro

in any of those conversations, but I can imagine how

Pachón bus driver as he is with the chair of the

it must have felt for those on the “receiving end” of



Issue 38 - June 2009