Shedd Aquarium President/CEO Ted A. Beattie to Retire

April 9, 2015  

CHICAGO – After more than two decades of leadership for one of the world’s most-respected animal care, conservation and education organizations, Shedd Aquarium President and Chief Executive Officer Ted A. Beattie announced today his intent for retirement in late 2016, bringing to close a 35-year legacy of commitment to the advancement of conservation and education for animals and ecosystems.  

“It has been an exceptional honor and privilege to lead and work alongside the thousands of amazing staff, volunteers, researchers, educators and others who have dedicated their lives to animals and inspire the 180 million people who visit accredited zoos and aquariums each year to learn and care about them both at places like Shedd and in the wild,” Beattie said. “To have played a role in enhancing the way we develop connections that foster a greater affinity for the living world has been a remarkable and rewarding journey. I know it is the appropriate time for me to pass that torch, as Shedd is poised now more than ever to cultivate the next generation of responsible stewards for species and the environment.”

Shedd’s Board of Trustees has formed an executive search committee to identify and select Beattie’s successor with planned assistance from a national executive search firm. The charge will be led by Shedd’s Board Chairman Tyrone C. Fahner, partner for global law firm Mayer Brown. No leading candidates have been earmarked by the Board to replace Beattie at this time, as Shedd is committed to conducting a truly comprehensive, expansive search process that is beyond formality.

“Ted has been a transformative, visionary leader passionately dedicated to Shedd’s mission and the hundreds of staff and volunteers who are a part of it,” Fahner said. “His collaborative management style, strong focus on financial stability, commitment to making Shedd the friendliest place in town, and unwavering delivery to provide best-in-class animal care, conservation, and educational initiatives has made the aquarium the outstanding organization it is today. On behalf of the entire Board, we thank Ted for his invaluable leadership – he will enormously be missed.”

Beattie has committed to supporting the Board throughout the transition period and will continue to serve in his current role until the next executive leader has been named, with a planned retirement end-date of December 2016.

“Shedd’s continual success and growth will remain my top priority to ensure we deliver continuity, transparency and stability throughout this process,” Beattie said. “While the decision to retire was not one made without heavy consideration, it is the right decision at the right time for Shedd – and for me, my wife, Jill, and our shared family. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the growth of the non-profit world and the development of its future leaders.”  

Beattie added that the next chapter in his career includes the intention to apply his passion for teaching to the advancement of non-profit management as well as the continual development and reward of the Penny Beattie Leadership Fund – a professional development scholarship program established in honor of Beattie’s late wife that provides funding support for Shedd and other zoo and aquarium staff across the nation to participate in leadership growth opportunities.

Since joining Shedd in January 1994 as the third President/CEO in the aquarium’s history, his many accomplishments have included: the development and opening of six permanent exhibits – the second expansion in aquarium history with the $47 million addition of Wild Reef in 2003 and the $79 million re-imagination of Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium marine mammal pavilion in 2009 being two of the most notable; eight special exhibits with the anticipated opening of Amphibians this May; establishment of the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research which has grown to include a portfolio of 18 global field research programs that span that world; the addition of Shedd’s onsite animal hospital and lab facilities within the A. Watson Armour III Center for Aquatic Animal Health and Welfare; a visionary Master Energy Road Map designed to cut the aquarium’s energy consumption in half by 2020; the opening of Shedd’s Teen Learning Lab – a free, collaborative space for teens to develop critical-thinking skills while exploring environmental interests and science; and the earned position of Chicago’s top-attended paid cultural attraction for 17 of the last 21 years, welcoming more than 33 million guests – just to name a few.

Beattie also served via Presidential appointment in 2001 to the 16-member U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy where he helped craft recommendations on a range of issues, from stewardship of marine resources and pollution prevention to enhancing and supporting marine science, commerce and transportation.  The report was presented to President George W. Bush and Congress in late summer 2004, listing ocean education and Great Lakes issues as a high priority with aquariums playing a prominent lead role.

His civic contributions are many, but most notably include Beattie’s contributed leadership in the development and transformation of Museum Campus – the 57-acre addition to Grant Park's southeastern end that is the epicenter for cultural exploration and natural science discovery along Chicago’s lakefront.

Previously, Beattie served as director for both the Knoxville Zoo and Fort Worth Zoo, as associate director for Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo and was the first marketing and development director for Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. He also served as president of the 6,500-member Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), of which Shedd is accredited and successfully chaired its $5 million conservation endowment campaign.  His service to the national association also has included 15 years of teaching management courses as part of AZA's professional management schools, and most recently, the creation of AZA’s Executive Leadership Development Program in 2014 to prepare the next generation of executive leaders to successfully advance the zoo and aquarium community for the future. Beattie is the recipient of AZA’s R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence – the profession’s highest award for professional excellence.

Receiving an undergraduate degree in journalism in 1971 and a master’s degree in public relations in 1972 from Ohio State University, Beattie served as chairman of its Alumni Association’s board of directors from 2003 to 2005 in addition to a five-year term as a member of the board. He also served on the Provost's External Advisory Board on Teaching, the Advisory Board for the School of Journalism and Communication and the OSU Chicago Major Gifts Committee. He received the School of Communications Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007 and was also honored with the University’s Distinguished Service Award – the highest service award given by the university.  Currently, he serves as the Chicago captain and chairman for the university's $2.5 billion fundraising campaign currently underway, But for Ohio State.

Following on his golf scholarship at Ohio State, Beattie made the sport a life-long interest and continues to use it as an important tool in his management and fundraising responsibilities in the non-profit world.

NOTE: High resolution photos of Ted A. Beattie, President/CEO of Shedd Aquarium and an overview of highlights and accomplishments throughout his 35-year career are available for the download at the following link:

Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Chicago Park District. Shedd Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

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