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Sponsor Spotlight: GATX, Making an Impact at Shedd Aquarium

This summer has been filled with excitement at Shedd Aquarium: the hatching of two Magellanic penguins, the birth of a beluga whale and the arrival of two rescued sea otter pups. In addition, Shedd celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Board of Trustees Gala, raising nearly $2 million to support our mission to spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world. These accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without longstanding supporters like GATX, a corporate partner with Shedd Aquarium for more than 40 years.

A shared history

Shedd Aquarium and GATX share a long history in Chicago. Both were founded more than 80 years ago by entrepreneurial Chicago residents. John G. Shedd worked his way up to president of Marshall Field & Company, and Max Epstein worked in the Chicago Stockyards before founding GATX. Both Shedd Aquarium and GATX grew into iconic Chicago organizations invested in the city’s communities. Today GATX is a leader in corporate social responsibility, providing critical support to communities in need through corporate philanthropy and employee volunteerism.

A railcar printed with a colorful underwater scene and Shedd's logo.

GATX, a railcar lessor, began giving back to the community as early as 1926, when the organization used its railcars to deliver 50,000 gallons of fresh pasteurized milk to victims of a massive hurricane that hit Miami. GATX’s partnership with Shedd Aquarium underscores the company’s commitment to public education, environmental stewardship and the health and well-being of the Great Lakes.

The commitment to Shedd’s mission

Brian A. Kenney, chairman, president and chief executive officer of GATX, has deepened GATX’s commitment to Shedd through his service for more than a decade as a trustee, culminating in his current role as chairman of the board. He continues GATX’s decades of representation on the Shedd Aquarium Board of Trustees. Kenney is an experienced and passionate civic leader committed to sustainable business practices and environmental stewardship in all aspects of his work.

That commitment extends to GATX employees, who for years have taken part in Shedd’s Great Lakes Action Days. They’ve contributed to the health of natural areas in our own back yard by collecting and properly disposing of plastic and other debris littering local beaches, removing harmful invasive plant species from local habitats and collecting data on native wildlife.

Brian A. Kenney, chairman, president and chief executive officer of GATX, with a sea lion
A group of guests stand in the Oceanarium at Shedd's Board of Trustees Gala

Celebrating the partnership

With Kenney’s support, GATX added an aquarium-themed boxcar to its national railcar fleet in 2015, and a Shedd design also adorns a 1,000-foot marine vessel in GATX’s American Steamship Company fleet with the message “Working Together to Keep the Lakes Great.” Most recently, GATX was the presenting sponsor of Shedd’s hallmark annual event focused on giving back—the Board of Trustees Gala. The night was especially historic as it marked the gala’s 25th anniversary.

Shedd Aquarium will continue to reach new milestones and have exciting summers like this year, and we are grateful for the longstanding support of partners like GATX. Shedd is honored by the continued and evolving partnerships with corporations, like GATX, that believe in our mission and vision. We look forward to new and exciting ways to engage with GATX and other potential partners in the future to continue to conserve and protect aquatic animals and the habitats they depend on.