Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer
Michael Delfini assists with developing the organization’s strategic goals and coordinates overall aquarium operations. Delfini also oversees Shedd’s learning department, planning and design, facilities, travel, HR functions, and conservation, science and research in order to maximize synergy amongst our programmatic departments.
Delfini has played a major role in strategic planning and design direction for Shedd’s branding process. Delfini’s role as head of the aquarium’s management team for the Oceanarium Reimagined project included selection of all program management, design and construction resources, management of budget and schedule and support of fundraising and launch activities. The project included an extensive facilities maintenance upgrade, guest amenity improvements and new exhibits and attractions. Delfini’s expertise in strategic communications planning helped to support two major capital campaigns at Shedd: the $60 million Fund for the Shedd and the $100 million Next Wave campaign.
Delfini led Shedd’s design team in creating award-winning exhibits that impart effective conservation and education messages to Shedd’s visitors. Under his leadership, the aquarium has unveiled five successful special exhibits, including Seahorse Symphony, which won the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Exhibit Award in 1999. Additionally, Delfini provided significant project management and design direction for Amazon Rising: Seasons of the River, winner of exhibit awards from both the AZA and the American Association of Museums (AAM) in 2001. Under his leadership, Shedd’s graphic design department has received multiple awards from the AAM’s annual publication design competition.
Delfini began his career at Shedd in 1990, after working at the Field Museum as a graphic designer for five years. Initially a graphic designer at the aquarium as well, Delfini was quickly promoted to graphic design coordinator. In 1997, he became the director of design and production, planning and supervising all department responsibilities in exhibit and graphic design and fabrication, horticulture and audio-visual design and maintenance. From 2001-2011, he provided strategic vision and leadership as vice president for planning and design.