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Director of Development
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk in Norwalk, Connecticut
Date Posted 07/29/2020
Employment Type Fulltime
Application Deadline Open until filled



The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Inc. (TMA or the Aquarium) seeks a Director of

Development to lead the strategic design and execution of a comprehensive, dynamic fundraising effort for the Aquarium during a uniquely important time in its 31 year history. In addition to significant construction projects currently underway, the Aquarium has a number of capital needs and opportunities on the horizon, and is advancing its education programs at a critical time for STEM education, and expanding conservation initiatives on behalf of Long Island Sound, a nationally recognized ecosystem.


The mission of the Aquarium is to inspire people of all ages to appreciate the Long Island Sound, its ecosystem and the global environment through living exhibits, marine science and environmental education. For more than 31 years, the Aquarium has played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Norwalk and the region. The second largest family attraction in Connecticut, and 50 miles from New York City, the Aquarium hosts nearly 500,000 guests annually. Its education programs introduce approximately 80,000 students, campers and scouts to marine and STEM education at the Aquarium, in classrooms, through shoreline exploration or aboard its floating classroom, the R/V Spirit of the Sound. The Aquarium has received significant recognition as a top aquarium in the nation, and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is an active participant in the local and regional community, with TMA staff partnering with universities, local school districts, social services, other charities, local businesses, and government research and environmental agencies in fulfilment of its mission and on behalf of the region. Its annual operating budget is approximately $13 million, consisting of approximately $10 million in earned income, with the remaining funds derived primarily from private support and government sources. The strength of the Aquarium is its 66 full-time staff, and part-time and seasonal staff ranging from 50 to 100 additional employees, in addition to more than 300 volunteers, which contribute 28,000 hours annually (the equivalent of 17 staff). Core elements of the Aquarium include:

  • Dynamic Exhibits: The primary exhibits take guests on a voyage from the shallow salt marshes and estuaries to the depths of the Long Island Sound and the ocean beyond, culminating with the 110,000 gallon Open Ocean tank, and the soon-to-open 150,000 gallon harbor seal exhibit. Additional exhibits connect terrestrial to marine ecosystems, and altogether, the Aquarium is home to more than 3,000 animals, 300 species in 75 exhibits. Through touch tanks for horseshoe crabs, rays, sharks and jellies, daily shows and experiences, the Aquarium offers a dynamic, interactive and engaging experience for its visitors.

  • Theater Experience: The Aquarium is home to Connecticut’s largest IMAX Theater, and will transition to a 4D Theater, which, in addition to providing a 4D experience, will allow a more versatile venue for conventional digital films, lectures and presentations.

  • Floating Classroom and Research Vessel: Launched in 2014, the R/V Spirit of the Sound is a revolutionary, clean-energy, battery-powered vessel. With about 300 educational cruises annually, the vessel serves as a floating classroom where students and families become citizen scientists, trawling for underwater life to identify, count and add to the Aquarium’s 30-year biodiversity database to better understand climatology and its changing impact on the waters of the Long Island Sound. The vessel conducts seal and bird watching cruises, and can be chartered for private events.

  • Education Programs: A leader in informal STEM education, with award-winning programs, the Aquarium hosts 80,000 children and students, ranging from pre-K through high school, from schools in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Specific programs include: (1) Traveling Teachers, bringing Aquarium educators into classrooms throughout the regions; (2) Whole School Partnerships with six schools in the Norwalk area, serving 3,000 high-needs students; (3) Sound Resilience – Get on Board! providing more than 2,000 middle and high school students with hands-on experiences about extreme weather and climate change; (4) TEMPEST, providing afterschool and weekend STEM activities, college preparation and paid work experiences to high school students; and (5) Maritime Odyssey Preschool, a marine-themed, STEM-focused preschool, now the largest in Norwalk, with 212 children from 14 months to five years old, of whom 70 percent come from families living below the poverty line, and more than half speak Spanish at home; and (6) From Roots to STEM, training for early childhood professionals, developed through the experience at the Maritime Odyssey Preschool.

  • Research and Conservation: The Aquarium engages in a wide range of research projects focused on the Long Island Sound ecosystem, but reaching globally. Working with students and community members as citizen scientists, and with numerous academic, non-profit and governmental partners, the Aquarium has long-running water quality and biodiversity monitoring programs, which offer rich data sets to determine impacts of land-based activities and climate change on fish, wildlife and habitats in Long Island Sound. Environmental stewardship is also a priority in the visitor experience.

  • In partnership with the City of Norwalk and State of Connecticut, the Aquarium recently began a $40 million capital construction project to replace the IMAX Theater and the harbor seal exhibit, to be completed over the next year, as a prelude to the replacement of the Walk Bridge, major construction scheduled to begin in 2021.


The Director of Development plays a central role in the overall success of the Aquarium, with the responsibility of raising funds to successfully fulfill the Aquarium’s ambitious mission, conduct the full breadth of activities and programs hosted by the Aquarium, and accomplish plans for future growth and expansion. The Director of Development manages a comprehensive development program including major gifts, individual annual giving, events, corporate and foundation giving, planned giving and government support. The Director of Development is responsible for developing and implementing all fundraising strategies and activities, and cultivating and stewarding donor relationships, to support unrestricted operating, restricted program, capital and endowment needs.

The Director of Development reports to the President and CEO, works closely with the Board of Trustees and the Development Committee, and is part of the institution’s senior management team alongside Directors of Animal Husbandry, Exhibits, Education, Guest Services, and Marketing. The Director of Development supervises a staff of three as well as consultants.


  1. Aggressively plan, lead and direct the organization through the development and implementation of a comprehensive fundraising effort to supplement earned revenues in meeting the operating, exhibition, education, conservation, capital, and endowment needs of the Aquarium for the present and the long-term future.

  2. Creatively develop and implement strategies for donor and constituency developmentthrough all aspects of individual and institutional fundraising, including major gifts, online and annual giving, planned giving, public and private grant awards, corporate partnerships and cause marketing, capital campaigns, and special events.

    1. Major gifts: Work with the President and the Board to cultivate, solicit, and steward a portfolio of high net worth individuals, with a focus on major gifts, and further create and manage a large-scale cultivation effort to develop a pipeline of new donors for the fulfillment of funding goals, while ensuring appropriate recognition of donors of all levels.

    2. Individual giving: Supervise and manage individual giving throughout the year, with a focus on the year-end appeal, and in cultivating members in conjunction with Guest Services.

    3. Institutional giving: Supervise and oversee the research and preparation of foundation, corporate and government grant proposals, and oversee grant administration and reporting of grant awards. Advance cause marketing and other corporate partnerships.

    4. Events: Maximize the effectiveness of the organization’s programs and assets to create special events and other activities to help attract, develop and retain donors, including the Aquarium’s annual fundraising gala.

    5. Capital campaigns: Working with senior leadership, create and implement an overall strategy for future Aquarium capital campaigns, including feasibility studies, cultivation events, printed materials, gift and naming announcements.

  3. Lead a coordinated, integrated approach to development in conjunction with senior management and other departments, including serving as a member of the senior management team that guides strategic decision-making.

  4. Build, train, and supervise an effective development team and support staff.

  5. In conjunction with the Chief Financial Officer, prepare and manage the department’s financial reports and budget; monitor the development budget and control expenses, as well as oversee the administration of the development department, its procedures and policies.

  6. Work with the President to motivate and strengthen the Board of Trustees in its role related to development; expand, manage and coordinate the Board in fundraising activities; take an active role in serving and supporting the Board and several Board committees; cultivate major donors and other champions as potential Trustees.

  7. Represent the Aquarium publicly and through external relations, as a spokesperson and representative of the organization.

  8. Other duties as assigned by the CEO and Board of Trustees. This job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities required of the employee for this job.


  • Minimum of 7 years of relevant and progressive development experience, including 3-4 years of management experience.

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, with Master’s degree preferred.

  • A proven track record in the management of successful development programs and fundraising initiatives.

  • A comprehensive understanding of fundraising strategies and methods, as well as a keen understanding of the nature of philanthropy and motivations for giving.

  • An attitude of creativity, innovation, confidence and entrepreneurship, with an ability to inspire and motivate both donors and staff.

  • Commitment to the Aquarium’s mission, with an appreciation for the important role that the Aquarium plays in conservation, education and the life of a vibrant community.

  • Seasoned experience in the solicitation, cultivation and stewardship of individual, corporate and foundation donors, with an emphasis on high net-worth individuals.

  • Experience in designing and implementing successful capital campaigns.

  • Familiarity with federal government funding processes, including proposal and budget development, a plus.

  • Knowledge and experience with fundraising relationships in the region, including Fairfield County, CT, New York City, and the wider tri-state area, a plus.

  • Strong leadership ability with proven management skills in leading and developing a staff, and working within a highly motivated team.

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and strong interpersonal skills.

  • Experience and versatility in relevant donor management software.


Please send a cover letter, CV and salary requirements to Rosemarie Lombardi at, with Director of Development in the subject line of your email. Preference will be given to applications received before January 10, but the position will remain open until filled. No phone calls please.

The Maritime Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity. All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply.

*Please mention to employers when applying for this job*
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