President & Chief Executive Officer

  • WNY

View Full Posting Here: Aquarium of Niagara — President and Chief Executive Officer Position Profile 

Position Overview:

The Niagara Aquarium Foundation (Aquarium of Niagara) is currently seeking qualified candidates to serve as its next President and Chief Executive Officer. This position reports to the Board of Trustees and serves as the senior executive of the organization, with responsibility for the overall performance and planning of the facility. The Aquarium is a private not-for-profit organization that operates with a $5 million annual operating budget and welcomes over 200,000 visitors on an annual basis.

The President and CEO will provide leadership over the development of plans, policies and strategy to fulfill the vision of a multi-site campus. In 2022, the Aquarium of Niagara announced an agreement with New York State Parks to fully renovate and operate a 5,000-square-foot building that historically served the region as a geological museum. The project, entitled “Great Lakes 360”, is fully funded, and currently under construction. Completion is anticipated for April 2024, with a public opening anticipated in June 2024. The completed project will be distinguished with fifteen living exhibits, a dedicated classroom space, and a rooftop event venue. The site’s interpretive program will emphasize wildlife native to the Great Lakes and Niagara River region, which will bolster the Aquarium’s position as a regional leader in environmental education.

In July 2023, the Aquarium of Niagara was named the preferred developer for a series of properties at the southern end of its existing parcel by USA Niagara Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development. While conceptual development for this project is underway, the incoming President and CEO will lead the continued growth and advancement of master planning process.

Supervisory Responsibility:

This role directly oversees the Aquarium’s senior leadership team and a paid staff of approximately 70 full and part-time employees.

Essential Responsibilities:

• Serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the Niagara Aquarium Foundation, with responsibility for personnel, resources, and strategic direction.
• Actively participate in meetings, interactions, and relationship management with local, state, and federal elected officials and appointees.
• Oversee the planning and implementation of the Aquarium’s mission, policies, strategic planning, operations, and master planning.
• Serve as a principal spokesperson among public figures, media, and key entities.
• Support zoological leadership in the maintenance, creation, and replacement of exhibits with a focus on variety, creativity, and feasibility.
• Maintain the Aquarium’s accreditation status with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and become an active contributor of the Association.
• In conjunction with the Vice President of Finance and Administration, develop an annual budget for approval by the Board of Trustees; ensure that funds are allocated appropriately and accurately to meet present needs and future potential of the Aquarium of Niagara.
• Provide resource development by expanding the donor base and fostering positive relations with existing and prospective donors.
• Identify strategic opportunities and take actions to raise the visibility, reputation, and profitability of the Aquarium of Niagara.
• Engage the community by regularly attending external events, supporting initiatives, and recognizing the importance of authentic engagement.
• Emphasize a positive culture that facilitates the recruitment and development of high-performing team members.
• Support the Board of Trustees in its governance role through engagement and a transparent communication philosophy.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

The Board of Trustees recognizes that no one candidate will bring every desired qualification, however, the following offers a summary of desired skills and abilities.

• Bachelor’s degree or higher in business management, tourism, project management, hospitality, or related field; or equivalent experience – advanced degree preferred.
• Minimum of 5-7 years of demonstrated leadership experience as a senior manager/director or equivalent combination of education and experience.
• Experience cultivating major gifts, while also identifying and connecting with potential supporters.
• Energetic and transformational leadership style with a passion for aquatic life.
• Natural ability to act as a catalyst and inspire action in others.
• Crisis management experience with a strong safety background.
• Valid New York State driver’s license, or ability to acquire one.
• Socially dynamic and confident in large groups with an ability to multi-task, work independently and/or within a team, pays attention to detail and meet deadlines.
• Strong skills using MS Office and other various computer systems.
• Exhibits excellent analytical, decision-making, and problem-solving skills with independence.
• Utilizes excellent verbal/written communication skills using diplomacy and discretion to communicate effectively.

Working Conditions:

• Potential exposures encountered, such as hazardous materials, loud noise, or weather exposure.
• Essential physical requirements, such as climbing, standing, stooping, or typing.
• Physical effort/lifting, such as sedentary – up to 50 pounds.
• May require working weekends, nights, or be on-call as a regular part of the job.

Compensation and Benefits:

The estimated base salary range for this role is estimated to be $165,000-$185,000 with a generous benefit package. This salary range represents the Aquarium’s good faith and reasonable estimate of the possible salary range.

How to Apply & Contact Information:

The Aquarium of Niagara welcomes people from all walks of life into our team and strongly encourages people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, and people with disabilities to apply.

The Niagara Aquarium Foundation Board of Trustees has retained Career Partners International Buffalo-Niagara to lead this search. To express interest in this role, qualified candidates may submit a resume and cover letter to MaryEllen Carlo, Director of Search Services at Career Partners International Buffalo | Niagara, at

Be sure to include the Aquarium of Niagara President and Chief Executive Officer in the subject line of any correspondence. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


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