Senior Vice President, Development
Sandy Marek oversees the strategic direction for the aquarium’s fundraising and general member- cultivation efforts, including expanding and broadening the organization’s base of individual, foundation, corporate and government philanthropic support. She also directs special giving initiatives and comprehensive capital campaigns.
As a member of the executive leadership team, Marek provides leadership in the development arena for the institution’s staff, working with other senior managers to create a consistent institutional message, develop annual fundraising priorities, identify and pursue funding opportunities and holistically help achieve the aquarium's goals. In addition, she works with the president/CEO and trustees on matters associated with board development, engagement, communication and succession.
Marek created Shedd’s present-day sponsorship program, which has tripled the organization’s total amount of fundraising dollars over the previous years’ — currently exceeding $2 million annually — and supervises the evolving membership program and annual fund campaigns that have increased unrestricted operating support for the past two years. During her tenure at Shedd, Marek has advanced from positions in sales, marketing and promotions.
Marek has served Chicago’s nonprofit and for-profit community for the last 20 years as a marketing and development professional. Before joining Shedd Aquarium, she was director of logistics for Pallotta TeamWorks, where she oversaw event details for a 300-mile, three-day bike ride that raised more than $5 million for Chicago-area AIDS beneficiaries. She also worked in Los Angeles in public relations and marketing, representing comedians such as Louie Anderson, Steven Wright and the Smother Brothers, and began her career in Scottsdale, Arizona, in marketing at Orange Tree Golf Resort.
Marek’s professional affiliations include membership in the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP), American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Chicago’s Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB) as well as the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (GNMAA). She has also been involved with many IEG and AAM presentations and roundtables.
Marek received her B.A. in psychology and sociology from University of Arizona in Tucson.