Tennessee Aquarium president and CEO Charlie Arant announced his retirement to staff and volunteers Monday morning by thanking them for their service during his more than 20-year tenure. “The people I’ve worked with at the Aquarium are incredible,” said Arant. “Their efforts are beyond anything you could expect as a leader.”
On March 20, 1995, Arant became the third president and CEO in the Aquarium’s history. Under his direction, the non-profit organization has reached many milestones, a few of which include: opening the IMAX 3D Theater in 1996; establishing the Conservation Institute in 1996; launching regional outreach programs in 1997; becoming accredited as a Special Purpose School by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2001; opening the Ocean Journey in 2005; launching the River Gorge Explorer in 2008; receiving the National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2009; and announcing a permanent facility for the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute this year.
“I’m proud of what this team has accomplished,” said Arant. “There is a level of commitment and care from this staff that exceeds their job descriptions.”
As an economic engine, the Aquarium has an annual economic impact on the Chattanooga area of $101.3 million dollars, supporting nearly 1,100 jobs throughout the community and adding $6.3 million dollars in tax revenue for the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County.
As an educational resource, the Aquarium continues to provide field trip opportunities, classroom lessons, IMAX learning modules, educational cruises aboard the River Gorge Explorer, and free educational services for students with limited financial means.
As an environmental organization, the Aquarium has hired more scientists to study and protect the aquatic habitats and animals of the Southeast. With a new biological field station being built as a central base of operations, this critical work is expected to grow even more.
A nationwide search for the Aquarium’s next leader is underway. John Giblin, executive vice president and chief financial officer of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, is chairing the Aquarium Board of Trustees’ search committee. “Charlie has provided exceptional leadership to the Aquarium during his long tenure, and we will miss him,” he said. “These are exciting times for the Aquarium, and finding the right person to carry this positive momentum into the future is an important challenge.”
Arant is confident the Aquarium has a bright future. “This organization is focused on providing a world-class experience, excellence in animal care, and meaningful education and conservation programs. There is no limit to what will be accomplished in the years to come with continued community support.”
Arant has informed the Aquarium’s Board of Trustees that he will remain actively engaged until his replacement is named.
Source: Tennessee Aquarium