The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk has named Jason Patlis, a 27-year veteran of the ocean and natural-resource conservation sector, as its new president and CEO, effective Nov. 4.
Patlis is executive director of Marine Conservation Programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Bronx; prior to that he was president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, based in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The ninth president in the Maritime Aquarium’s 32-year history – and the second in less than a year – Patlis fills an office that has been vacant since Maureen Hanley’s dismissal in April after about three months on the job. The reasons for Hanley’s exit have not been disclosed.
The new president/CEO arrives as the aquarium is in the midst of several projects revolving around the planned replacement of the Walk Bridge, a railroad bridge that narrowly slots between the Aquarium and its IMAX Theater. Budgeted at $40 million, the work involves building a new 4-D movie theater to replace the IMAX Theater, which must be razed, and enclosing and enlarging its popular seal exhibit. The simultaneous projects are to begin in October and take about a year.
“During this coming year, we will continue to serve the community as we have for the last 30-plus years, and we will emerge with something for everyone: a state-of-the-art theater for our guests, a more comfortable home for our harbor seals, and significant momentum for future growth of The Maritime Aquarium,” Patlis said.
“We feel like we’re a band that got Paul McCartney to come sing lead,” said Audrey Weil, co-chair of the aquarium’s board of trustees. “Jason brings to The Maritime Aquarium an incredible depth of knowledge, vision and leadership in national and international marine conservation, as well as proven experience in not-for-profit management.”
Patlis’ resume includes serving as majority counsel on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee under Sen. John Chafee (1997-2000) and as deputy staff director for the U.S. House Science Committee (2006-07).
His positions on Capitol Hill bookended a six-year tenure in Indonesia (2000-2006), which began with a Fulbright Senior Scholarship and evolved into a consulting practice in which he helped to shape new laws relating to forestry and coastal-resource management as the country moved from dictatorship to democracy. Those efforts are credited with helping pave the way for the establishment of Indonesia’s first national law on coastal management, enacted in 2007.