Jennifer Herring, president and chief executive officer of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, announced today she will retire in 2014. Herring will have served the Aquarium for more than 10 years, longer than any CEO in the Aquarium’s 25-year history.
While the Aquarium Board of Trustees searches for a new president, Herring assured the staff she will continue to be energetically involved. “The last thing I want to become is a lame duck,” Herring joked. “So I won’t be quacking anytime soon.”
Herring will continue to serve in her present role, leading the Aquarium through a new animal-touch exhibit experience to be announced in January, the institution’s primary gala fund-raiser for education in April and the launch of a new boat – the only research vessel in the world with hybrid-electric propulsion – in June.
Aquarium Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Rohn said, “Jennifer has led the organization to the achievement of major milestones, including educational prominence, complete physical refurbishment and accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. She has guided it through a period of dynamic change, some very difficult economic times and raised the stature of the organization, making it a strong voice for the conservation of Long Island Sound.”
The board already has begun forming a search committee headed by Sanders Davies, former chairman of the board and current vice chair.
“Over the course of the coming year, Jennifer remains committed to leading the organization to greater financial stability and to new institutional relevance, with great new opportunities with the launching of the new research vessel,” Rohn said. “And we will have ample opportunity to celebrate the contributions of her tenure. By this time next year, we will have a new leader and will be planning for an exciting new chapter in the organization’s achievement of its mission.”
Herring joined The Maritime Aquarium in fall 2004. She retires from a career spanning 35 years and fulfilling her passions for arts, culture, outdoor adventure, travel, birding, wildlife and environmental conservation.
Despite challenging economic times, Herring and her team accomplished an $18 million campaign of capital and exhibit improvements and established the Aquarium’s first endowment. She introduced new strategic planning processes and a master plan. New permanent exhibits added during her administration include “Frogs,” “Go Fish” and a complete renovation of the facility including the very popular touch-a-shark experience.
Herring deepened the Aquarium’s educational programs with Whole School Partnerships, now numbering seven, which incorporate Aquarium programing in the schools’ curricula and show evidence of closing the achievement gap for thousands of students. She oversaw creation of TeMPEST, an after-school program for teens in Norwalk, and the Long Island Sound Biodiversity Index, which leverages citizen-scientist and school student trips on the Aquarium’s research vessel Oceanic. That data collection will continue on the Aquarium’s new hybrid-electric boat starting this summer.