Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, Minnesota announces today the selection of its new executive director, Joe Montisano, following a nationwide search.
Mr. Montisano comes to the Aquarium from The Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick, Maine where he has served as executive director since 2015. He brings more than 25 years of experience working with animals and habitat including more than a decade leading the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
“We were blessed with five good candidates for the Executive Director position,” said Board of Directors’ President Dennis Lamkin. “In the end, we felt Joe’s extensive experience with fundraising and creating new revenue sources would allow us to grow our educational programs and add additional exhibits to the Aquarium.”
That fundraising experience includes leading a development team at the Central Florida Zoo to raise $24 million for new capital projects. The Aquarium board and staff plan to work with Montisano to develop similar models for developing new feature attractions and updates in future years.
Montisano replaces current executive director Jack LaVoy who announced his retirement last month. LaVoy, a fixture at the Aquarium since 2007, led the facility to a dramatic turnaround over the course of the last decade, securing its position as the most visited paid attraction in Duluth.
“I am very grateful and humbled to be joining the Great Lakes Aquarium at this pivotal time in its history,” said Montisano. “I know I have large shoes to fill. Jack LaVoy, the board and the team have all done an incredible job of taking the Aquarium to new levels of excellence.”
LaVoy will continue in his role as executive director through early August when Montisano assumes the role.
As for Montisano, he’s making plans to get started and looking forward to becoming a Duluthian.
“I am excited to be joining the Duluth community and the Great Lakes Aquarium team to see how I can apply my years of experience in this industry to the Aquarium, and thrilled to be part of where we can take it in the next ten years!”