Vice President, Great Lakes and Sustainability
Michelle Parker directs the aquarium’s strategic contributions to Great Lakes science, education and conservation. In her role, Parker builds collaborative relationships with not-for-profits, government agencies and key stakeholder organizations throughout the Great Lakes to raise public awareness and develop solutions for the region’s conservation challenges.
Parker also oversees the Midwest’s leading sustainable seafood initiative, Right Bite, which helps people make seafood choices that benefit the health of our waters worldwide. Right Bite works with thousands of individuals, families and culinary professionals to increase the availability of sustainable seafood in Chicago’s vibrant marketplace. In 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) awarded Right Bite its Public Education, Community Service and Media Award. Parker also steers the aquarium’s internal sustainability strategic plan, working with executive leadership to chart a course that minimizes the environmental impacts of Shedd’s operations.
Outside the aquarium, Parker serves on the board of Freshwater Future, which works with Great Lakes communities to preserve lake resources. Parker also volunteers with Habitat 2030, a restoration volunteer group dedicated to the stewardship of local forest preserves. She is past chair of the Aquarium and Zoo Association's Green Scientific Advisory Group, which provides leadership, counsel and best practices to zoos and aquariums that want to improve their sustainable practices. Parker also served on the Steering Committee of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, a group of 18 leading sustainable seafood organizations from the United States and Canada that works with seafood buyers and suppliers to protect aquatic health and ensure a long-term global seafood supply.
Before joining Shedd in 2004, Parker worked as a research department assistant for Earthwatch Institute, where she developed volunteer-based conservation expeditions around the world. Parker also spent time as a conservation educator with Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science, Boston. Parker graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in conservation and received a master's in zoology from Miami University of Ohio.