Jennifer-HerringJennifer Herring, president and chief executive officer of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk for more than 10 years, longer than any CEO in the Aquarium’s 25-year history. She will talk about history and plans for the Aquarium. Herring has announced plans to retire from her position in 2014 but 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.

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.

Starting as an opera singer in San Francisco, she found her talent for fund-raising, leading major development efforts for the New York Public Library and the New York City Opera. She honed her administrative abilities at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the New York Aquarium and Bronx Zoo, among others.

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 programming 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.

Arranged by Bob Smith