May 25, 2018
President/CEO of New England Aquarium to Resign

Nigella Hillgarth
January 27, 2017 — New England Aquarium in Boston, one of the city's largest nonprofit tourist attractions, recently announced that its president and chief executive officer, Nigella Hillgarth, will resign this spring, after three years in the job.

She will return to academia as a visiting scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The board of trustees of New England Aquarium has begun a search for a successor, but did not offer a timeline for completion nor plans for an interim president prior to having a successor in place.

Board chair Donna Hazard said, “The Aquarium community is grateful to Nigella for her leadership. She has provided a clear vision and pathway for the Aquarium to follow. The board enthusiastically endorsed Nigella’s vision and looks forward to continuing that work with the Aquarium’s senior leadership team. Given the healthy state of the Aquarium, we are confident of a smooth transition.”

Noting that "it has been an honor to lead the Aquarium," Hillgarth said, "At this point in my career, I have a desire to return to my academic roots and continue my research work. Protecting the oceans remains my passion.”

During Hillgarth's tenure, the Aquarium launched the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life and unveiled a master plan for Central Wharf and the waterfront.

This past autumn, as part of the public discussion for the development of the downtown waterfront municipal harbor plan, the Aquarium creating a 1,000 foot long, public open space corridor connecting the Greenway to Boston Harbor.

According to the Aquarium, "The proposed new vision for Boston’s downtown waterfront would provide transformative benefits to the public by greatly increasing public access and enjoyment, while accommodating reasonable and site appropriate development."

Previously, Hillgarth served as research assistant professor at the University of Utah and as a researcher at the University of Washington. She also has conducted research on penguins and other birds in the Arctic, Antarctica, Argentina, the Amazon, the Galapagos, Peru, India, and Thailand.

New England Aquarium opened on the Boston waterfront in June 1969, receiving 425,000 visitors by yearend. In 2016, nearly 1.4 million visited the Aquarium, up from 1.28 million people the year before, which had seen a decline from 1.37 million in 2014.

For year ending Dec. 31, 2015, New England Aquarium reported $44.5 million in operating revenue and support, of which $20.2 million came from admission fees, and $42.8 million in expenses, according to its most recently available annual report.

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