The Aquarium’s 30-year history of conservation begins local and spans the globe. From National Aquarium Animal Rescue to our Chesapeake Bay Initiative, the Aquarium is dedicated to service to the environment.
Click here to download a full Conservation Fact Sheet PDF (170 KB).
The National Aquarium in Baltimore generates $314 million in annual economic impact for the Baltimore and Maryland, demonstrating that the National Aquarium, Baltimore, is an integral part of the vibrant Inner Harbor community.
Click here to download a full Economic Impact Fact Sheet PDF (125 KB).
Click here to view the National Aquarium economic impact study assessment PDF in its entirety (1.4 MB).
The National Aquarium strives to implement green conservation action programs through the establishment of environmentally friendly business practices and by undertaking conservation initiatives that stretch far beyond the Aquarium walls.
Click here to download a full Green Business Fact Sheet PDF (187 KB).
Located in the heart of Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium, Baltimore, is home to more than 20,000 animals and more than 750 species.
Click here to download a full Baltimore Venue Fact Sheet PDF (178 KB).
Hands-on experiences combined with thousands of student visits each year provides young people with the opportunity to learn about the wonders of the world’s aquatic treasures.
Click here to download a full Education Fact Sheet PDF (link to PDF)
National Aquarium, Washington, DC, closed its doors to the public on September 30, 2013. The collection of more than 2,500 animals is being transitioned to new homes at either National Aquarium, Baltimore, or at other accredited aquariums. We are committed to maintaining a presence in the capital, where a public aquarium has existed since the late 1800s. A task force of National Aquarium Board members is exploring opportunities and funding options that would support this goal. For more information: click here.
With an extensive history in both Washington, DC, and Baltimore, today the National Aquarium carries on the legacy of the nation’s first aquarium. As a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, the National Aquarium champions environmental initiatives by engaging with visitors, volunteers, students and citizens from around the world to actively participate in the preservation of our natural resources and living systems.
Originally established in 1873 in Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts, National Aquarium, Washington, DC, was considered the nation’s first public aquarium. In 1878, the National Aquarium moved to the site of the Washington Monument, and in 1932, the Aquarium was incorporated into the lower level of the Commerce Building. Federal funds were eliminated from the operating budget for the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, in 1982. Threatened with closing, the National Aquarium Society was formed to keep the Aquarium open.
Meanwhile, during the 1970s, then-Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer conceived and championed the idea of an aquarium as a vital component in the redevelopment of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. In 1976, Baltimore City residents voted on a bond referendum in favor of building the National Aquarium, Baltimore. Groundbreaking for the facility took place on August 8, 1978. In 1979, the new aquarium was recognized by the United States Congress, which granted the facility "national" status. The National Aquarium, Baltimore, opened to the public on August 8, 1981.
In 2003, the National Aquarium Society Board of Directors signed an alliance agreement with the Board of Directors of the National Aquarium, Baltimore, enabling the two aquariums to work together to strengthen the animal collection and educational impact of the National Aquarium.
On September 30, 2013, National Aquarium, Washington, DC, closed its doors to the public, due to necessary renovations in the Department of Commerce. For more information on the closing and a future National Aquarium presence in Washington, DC, visit aqua.org/dc.
Today, the National Aquarium, Baltimore, features a living collection of more than 17,000 fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals living in award-winning habitats. In summer 2013, the Aquarium opened Blacktip Reef, a breathtaking exhibit replicating an Indo-Pacific reef and featuring more than 700 animals, including a school of blacktip reef sharks.
National Aquarium Leadership Team
John C. Racanelli
Chief Executive Officer
As chief executive officer, John Racanelli leads a team of 600 full and part-time employees and 1,000 volunteers in pursuing the National Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. More than 1.5 million people annually visit the Aquarium’s venues in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, DC, while millions more are touched by the Aquarium’s education programs, outreach activities, social media campaigns and conservation initiatives.
A passionate advocate for the ocean, John strives to drive conservation action worldwide, ensure the success of one of the nation’s leading aquarium enterprises, and fundamentally change the way the world views the ocean and aquatic systems.
John joined the National Aquarium in July 2011 after 10 years as president of Racanelli Partners, Inc. The San Francisco-based consulting firm served the needs of nonprofit leaders nationally and globally, focusing on cultural and conservation organizations including Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Surfrider Foundation.
After co-founding Mission Blue with author and oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, John assisted her in developing and launching Google Ocean, Google’s most significant enhancement of Google Earth, the most popular earth visualization tool in existence.
Prior to founding his firm, John spent 16 years in leadership positions at U.S. aquariums. He was the first CEO of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, where he built the facility, team and vision for Tampa Bay’s leading cultural attraction. He also served for nine years on the leadership team of the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium as its vice president of marketing and development, joining the aquarium a year before its opening. While in college, John began his career as a diver and aquarist, an experience that he credits with giving him great appreciation for the work of everyone on the aquarium team.
Fluent in Spanish, John holds a degree in strategic management from Dominican University of California. He is a SCUBA diver, open-water swimmer, sailor and surfer. His weekly radio show and podcast on WYPR public radio, “A Blue View,” explores important issues related to the aquatic world. John and his family are proud residents of Canton, Baltimore’s historic waterfront district.
Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer
As chief financial officer of the National Aquarium, Bruce Hoffberger oversees Finance and Accounting, Information Technology, Administrative Affairs, Human Resources, risk management, and contractual relationships.
Before joining the National Aquarium, he was treasurer and chief financial officer of the Enterprise Foundation, Inc. (now called Enterprise Community Partners), an entrepreneurial nonprofit organization focused on supportive housing. Prior to that, he was vice president and chief financial officer of Zurich Personal Insurance, a business unit of Zurich Group, and audit partner with Ernst & Young. In addition, as a certified public accountant, he has actively worked with nonprofit organizations as a volunteer and as an independent financial consultant.
A lifelong Baltimore-area resident, Hoffberger earned a B.S. in accounting from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Miami.
He has volunteered and held offices in various nonprofit institutions for more than 25 years, including the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore; the Advisory Board for the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland; National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Maryland Chapter; Sinai Hospital; the Jewish Volunteer Connection; and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore.
He is a past president of the Hoffberger Foundation, Inc., which is dedicated to responding to unmet needs in the greater Baltimore community and supporting initiatives in Israel.
When not working, Hoffberger enjoys flying, road biking, classical music, and reading fiction. He and his wife, Caren, live in Pikesville with their children, Corie and Bret, and their rescued cats.
Kathy A. Sher
Senior Vice President/External Affairs
Kathy Sher, deputy director of External Affairs, has been with the Aquarium for more than 25 years. Her Aquarium experience includes executive management and administration, strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, visitor services, retail management, and private consulting. Her duties have also included direction and management of auxiliary revenue areas, development, corporate sponsorship, membership, retail, and food service.
Currently her focus is directed toward public funding for the Aquarium’s complex multimillion-dollar capital improvements. She also serves as a liaison to the National Aquarium Board of Directors and the community.
Widely experienced in the fundraising and marketing of nonprofit attractions, Sher has served as a consultant for many institutions, including the Audubon Zoological Park in New Orleans, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, and the South Carolina Aquarium.
In her External Affairs role, the Aquarium has increased its already strong commitment to the citizens of the City and State. She serves on a number of statewide and community boards, including the Governor’s Maryland Tourism Development Board, the American Visionary Art Museum Board, and the Aspire Fundraising Committee for the benefit of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.
Sher has been a pioneer in mentoring other women and helping them to establish themselves in their fields. She has a B.S. degree from Edinboro College and an M.S. degree from Duquesne University. She lives in Ruxton with her husband.
Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer
As a member of the Aquarium’s senior leadership team, Dale Schmidt is responsible for capital planning, exhibit development, guest services, safety, food services, facilities maintenance and retail services.
Schmidt has more than 30 years of experience working for accredited zoological organizations. He served as President and CEO of the Columbus Zoological Association; President and CEO of Oregon Coast Aquarium; Executive Director of Clearwater Marine Aquarium; and Vice President of Operations of The Florida Aquarium. He has also worked in operations for such organizations as John Shawn Productions, Inc.; Universal Studios Florida; and Busch Entertainment Corporation.
Schmidt, who recently served as chair of the Business Operations Special Committee for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Sciences from the University of South Florida. He also completed a leadership program at the Stanford Nonprofit Management Institute and served as Vice Chairman of the Zoo and Aquarium Committee for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
Senior Vice President/Chief Conservation Officer
As Chief Conservation Officer, Eric Schwaab provides strategic vision and leadership for the National Aquarium’s Conservation and Science Division, a team of 130 professionals, engaging in initiatives ranging from field conservation and biological programs to legislative advocacy and animal rescue.
Schwaab most recently served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management for the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this role he works closely with Congress, other agency leaders, partner organizations and local communities to develop policies and take conservation action to ensure sustainable federal fisheries, promote coastal stewardship and enhance protection of ocean habitats. Previously, as Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA from 2010-2012, Schwaab directed the National Marine Fisheries Service. He was responsible for science, management and conservation of federal fisheries, marine mammals, sea turtles and other protected resources within the United States. Schwaab led the agency’s national requirement to end overfishing, the implementation of “catch share” management programs to better align the interests of commercial fishing businesses with conservation goals, and efforts to improve coastal and ocean habitat conservation.
Prior to his work with NOAA, Schwaab spent three years as Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he worked extensively with legislative leaders and other agencies to support important state conservation initiatives, including Chesapeake Bay restoration, forest and park land conservation and fisheries rebuilding. Schwaab’s 20 plus years of conservation stewardship in Maryland also include service as Director of the Fisheries Service (1999-2003); Director of the Forest, Wildlife & Heritage Service (1995-1999); Director of the Forest Service (1992-1995); and Chief of Resource Management for Maryland Forest & Park Service (1989-1992). From 2003 into 2007, Schwaab served as Resource Director for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, coordinating conservation work on behalf of fish and wildlife agencies across North America.
Schwaab, who served as the NOAA Administrator designee on the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from McDaniel College and a Master of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Planning from Towson University. He also completed a leadership program for senior executives in state and local government at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
National Aquarium, Inc. Board of Directors
Mr. Robert E. Carter
Bob Carter is the Chair of the Executive Board of the National Aquarium Institute. A consultant with significant expertise in local, national and international fundraising, Bob Carter has faced complex problems and opportunities and found ways to be successful in nearly every case. Bob established Of Counsel Philanthropy in 2010 and is now President and CEO of Bob Carter Companies LLC.
In his consulting work, Bob concentrates on building dynamic teams to deliver specific services that meet the unique needs of charities and donors. He works with complex regional, national and international organizations and institutions to design specific strategies, based on individual cultural realities, to maximize positive outcomes. His service as member and chair of numerous not-for-profit boards lends firsthand experience to his governance counsel. He is currently Chair of the International Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). He also serves on the board of directors for The Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University and The Mote Marine Laboratory (Immediate Past Chair). He is a member of the USA Advisory Board of PlaNet Finance, a microfinance organization headquartered in Paris with global operations. Bob is Board Chair emeritus of Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore and Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
Bob’s experience includes a 26-year career with Ketchum (including 15 years as President), one of the largest firms in the fundraising industry, and serving as Senior Advisor to Changing Our World and Omnicom Nonprofit Group. Prior to joining Ketchum, Bob served as Vice President for University Relations at The Catholic University of America; Director of Development for Arts and Sciences and Engineering, and Associate Director of Annual Giving at The Johns Hopkins University; and Assistant to the Headmaster at the Gilman School in Baltimore. After graduating from The Boys' Latin School in Baltimore, Bob taught there and organized the school’s development office.
A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Bob has published articles in several professional journals and frequently serves as a lecturer and presenter for Columbia University’s Masters in Philanthropy Management program, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP).
Bob and his wife, Carol, live in Anna Maria, Florida. His sons, Travis and Trent, and their families live in Naples, Florida.
Ms. Jennifer W. Reynolds
Immediate Past Chair and Philanthropy Committee Chair
As Chair of the Executive Board of the National Aquarium Institute, Jennifer Ward Reynolds oversees the governance of the entire enterprise, including aquariums in Baltimore and Washington DC and several conservation-related facilities and programs. She has served on the board of the National Aquarium since 2000, and is also the past chair of the National Aquarium Foundation.
Currently a partner and director of commercial real estate firm Ward Properties, Jennifer has spent over 30 years in the asset management business, most recently serving as Vice Chair and Chief Investment Officer of Legg Mason Trust. In 2008, Jennifer became chair of the board of trustees of Dickinson College, for which she has been a trustee since 2000 and co-chaired the First in America capital campaign (2006-2011). Additionally, she serves on the investment committees of the Walters Art Museum, Sheppard Pratt Hospital and the Baltimore School for the Arts. She has twice been named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by Warfield’s Daily Record and is a past recipient of the Distinguished Women award from the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.
Jennifer received her undergraduate degree from Dickinson College (1977), her Masters of Finance from Loyola College, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). She resides in Phoenix, Maryland, with her husband George, an attorney who is also very active in community leadership.
Mr. Timothy Adams
Mr. Marc Bunting
Mr. Keith Campbell
Mr. Robert E. Carter (Chair)
Mr. David Churchill (Chair, Finance Committee)
Ms. Colleen Dilenschneider
Mrs. Jane W. I. Droppa (Vice Chair)
Mr. Michael Dunmyer (Chair, Conservation Committee)
Ms. Nancy Grasmick
Mr. Frank A. Gunther, Jr. (Life Director)
Mr. Charles Knudsen, III (Chair, National Aquarium Foundation)
Ms. Donna Morrison
Mr. Mark Mullin
Mr. Joseph Nigro
Ms. Kaliope Parthemos
Ms. Marianela Peralta
Mr. Charles A. Phillips
Mr. J. Scott Plank (Vice Chair)
Mr. John C. Racanelli (CEO)
Ms. Diana Ramsay (Chair, Governance and Nominating Committee)
The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Ms. Jennifer W. Reynolds, Immediate Past Chair
Mr. Thomas E. Robinson (Chair, Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation)
Ms. Tamika Langley Tremaglio (Vice Chair and Chair, Audit Committee)
Ms. Jaki Ulman
Ms. C. Elizabeth Wagner
1st Maryland attraction to be part of the Maryland Green Travel program
Presented by: Maryland Green Travel - Developed through a partnership of the Maryland Office of Tourism, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Tourism Council in support of the Smart, Green and Growing initiative.
ADDY Awards (8 Wins: 7 Gold - 1 Silver)
Presented by: 37th Annual ADDY Awards
David J. St. Aubin Award for Excellence
Presented by: NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service
Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award
Presented by: Maryland State Department of the Environment
Margaret Jones Research Award
Presented by: Maryland Environmental Trust/DNR
Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award
Presented by: Maryland Department of the Environment
Presented by: National Grants Management Association
Telly Award (Bronze)
Presented by: 31st Annual Telly Awards
Coastal America Special Recognition Award
Presented by: Coastal America
DAN Coin of Recognition
Presented by: Divers Alert Network