National Aquarium Announces Colleen Dilenschneider as New Board of Directors Chair

Dr. Nancy Grasmick and Robert Matthews also joined this spring

At its March 2024 meeting, the National Aquarium Board of Directors elected Colleen Dilenschneider to Chair, while welcoming new member Robert Matthews, and the return of long-time member Dr. Nancy Grasmick.

"In welcoming these talented new members to our Board of Directors, we are strengthening our capacity for attaining our future vision," said Aquarium President and CEO John Racanelli. "With diverse expertise in market intelligence, educational leadership and diversity initiatives, they will help steer the National Aquarium toward greater impact and innovation. Their engagement underscores our commitment to excellence in strategic planning and advocacy for conservation at local and national scales."

Dilenschneider is the founder and managing member of IMPACTS Experience, a market research firm providing data and analysis to inform the strategic direction of visitor-serving organizations. Widely regarded as a leader of the next generation of nonprofit executive management, Dilenschneider oversees multiple audience engagement initiatives for clients in the nonprofit and cultural sectors, where she uses data to identify and predict emerging market opportunities. She helps nonprofit organizations maintain relevance and secure long-term financial futures by building affinity with their on-site and virtual audiences.

"I am humbled and excited to be the new Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Aquarium after serving as a board member for this dynamic organization since 2013," said Dilenschneider. "I look forward to more great things ahead for our Aquarium, our community, and our guests, beginning with the debut of the new outdoor Harbor Wetland exhibit this summer."

Dilenschneider has also been a featured expert in sources ranging from NPR's Marketplace to The Wall Street Journal, national museum publications, museum studies and other professional development programs nationwide.

She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. Dilenschneider has also completed post-graduate programs at the University of Washington, with a degree in public relations; Harvard University, with a degree in digital engagement; Yale School of Management, with a degree in behavioral economics; and the London School of Economics, with a dual degree in strategic marketing and managerial finance.

Grasmick, a returning member, previously served on the board of directors from 2014 through 2022. As state superintendent of Maryland Public Schools for 20 years, Grasmick has served 24 districts, more than 1,000 schools, and nearly 870,000 students. She began her career as a teacher at the William S. Baer School for the Deaf in Baltimore before serving as a principal and, eventually, as associate superintendent in Baltimore County. Throughout her long career, she has fought to establish high standards in every Maryland classroom. In one of her final acts as state superintendent, Grasmick secured a $250 million Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Recently, Grasmick has served as a faculty member at the Kennedy-Krieger Institute, where she co-directs an innovative fellowship program that prepares administrators to become leaders in special education, and as a Presidential Scholar at Towson University. She received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Towson University, her master's degree in deaf education from Gallaudet University, and her doctorate in communicative sciences from Johns Hopkins University.

Matthews is the vice president of talent and the chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at Exelon. In this role, he is responsible for designing enterprise-wide strategies that facilitate a diverse and inclusive environment, supporting business objectives, and positioning Exelon as a recognized leader in DEI.

Matthews is also responsible for Exelon's talent management and organizational effectiveness functions. He serves as chair for Edison Electric Institute's DEI Executive Advisory Council, a forum for the development and implementation of emerging DEI issues and best practices. Prior to serving in his current role with Exelon, he held positions within Exelon Utilities, BGE, Vertis, Inc., and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

Matthews currently serves as vice chair of the Board of Directors at The Leadership, a civic leadership development organization established to improve quality of life and economic vitality within Baltimore. He is also the board chair of the Baltimore Bon Secours Foundation and is very active in his church, where he serves as a leader. Matthews holds a bachelor's degree in business and a graduate degree in business and counseling. He is also credentialed as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC).

The National Aquarium's Board of Directors provides strategic, long-term planning and oversight for the organization, one of the top three aquariums in the United States. As Maryland's largest paid tourist attraction, it serves as a beacon of Baltimore tourism, an important economic engine for the city and state, and a hands-on advocate for local and global conservation initiatives.

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