Associate Director of Development

The Maritime Aquarium
Connecticut, United States
Salary Not specified
Sep 08, 2020
Oct 07, 2020
Employment Type
Full Time

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Inc. (TMA or the Aquarium) seeks an Associate Director of Development to support the design and execution of a comprehensive, dynamic fundraising effort for the Aquarium during a uniquely important time in its 32 year history. In addition to significant construction projects currently underway, the Aquarium has a long-lasting recovery ahead as a direct result of COVID-19.  It also has a number of capital needs and opportunities on the horizon, is advancing its education programs both in-person and online at a critical time for STEM education, and is expanding conservation initiatives on behalf of Long Island Sound, a nationally recognized ecosystem.      



The mission of the Aquarium is to inspire people of all ages to appreciate the Long Island Sound, its ecosystem and the global environment through living exhibits, marine science and environmental education. For more than 32 years, the Aquarium has played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Norwalk and the region. The second largest family attraction in Connecticut, and 50 miles from New York City, the Aquarium hosts nearly 500,000 guests annually. Its education programs introduce approximately 80,000 students, campers and scouts to marine and STEM education at the Aquarium, in classrooms, through shoreline exploration or aboard its floating classroom, the R/V Spirit of the Sound. The Aquarium has received significant recognition as a top aquarium in the nation, and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is an active participant in the local and regional community, with TMA staff partnering with universities, local school districts, social services, other charities, local businesses, and government research and environmental agencies in fulfillment of its mission and on behalf of the region. Its annual operating budget is approximately $13 million, consisting of approximately $10 million in earned income, with the remaining funds derived primarily from private support and government sources. The strength of the Aquarium is its 66 full-time staff, and part-time and seasonal staff ranging from 50 to 100 additional employees, in addition to more than 300 volunteers, which contribute 28,000 hours annually (the equivalent of 17 staff).


Core elements of the Aquarium include:

  • Dynamic Exhibits: The primary exhibits take guests on a voyage from the shallow salt marshes and estuaries to the depths of the Long Island Sound and the ocean beyond, culminating with the 110,000 gallon Open Ocean tank, and the soon-to-open 150,000 gallon harbor seal exhibit. Additional exhibits connect terrestrial to marine ecosystems, and altogether, the Aquarium is home to more than 3,000 animals, 300 species in 75 exhibits. Through touch tanks for horseshoe crabs, rays, sharks and jellies, daily shows and experiences, the Aquarium offers a dynamic, interactive and engaging experience for its visitors.
  • Theater Experience: The Aquarium is home to Connecticut’s largest IMAX Theater, and will transition to a 4D Theater, which, in addition to providing a 4D experience, will allow a more versatile venue for conventional digital films, lectures and presentations.
  • Floating Classroom and Research Vessel: Launched in 2014, the R/V Spirit of the Sound is a revolutionary, clean-energy, battery-powered vessel. With about 300 educational cruises annually, the vessel serves as a floating classroom where students and families become citizen scientists, trawling for underwater life to identify, count and add to the Aquarium’s 30-year biodiversity database to better understand climatology and its changing impact on the waters of the Long Island Sound. The vessel conducts seal and bird watching cruises, and can be chartered for private events.
  • Education Programs: A leader in informal STEM education, with award-winning programs, the Aquarium hosts 80,000 children and students, ranging from pre-K through high school, from schools in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Specific programs include: (1) Traveling Teachers, bringing Aquarium educators into classrooms throughout the regions; (2) Whole School Partnerships with six schools in the Norwalk area, serving 3,000 high-needs students; (3) Sound Resilience – Get on Board! providing more than 2,000 middle and high school students with hands-on experiences about extreme weather and climate change; (4) TEMPEST, providing afterschool and weekend STEM activities, college preparation and paid work experiences to high school students; and (5) Maritime Odyssey Preschool, a marine-themed, STEM-focused preschool, now the largest in Norwalk, with 212 children from 14 months to five years old, of whom 70 percent come from families living below the poverty line, and more than half speak Spanish at home; and (6) From Roots to STEM, training for early childhood professionals, developed through the experience at the Maritime Odyssey Preschool.
  • Research and Conservation: The Aquarium engages in a wide range of research projects focused on the Long Island Sound ecosystem, but reaching globally. Working with students and community members as citizen scientists, and with numerous academic, non-profit and governmental partners, the Aquarium has long-running water quality and biodiversity monitoring programs, which offer rich data sets to determine impacts of land-based activities and climate change on fish, wildlife and habitats in Long Island Sound. Environmental stewardship is also a priority in the visitor experience.


In partnership with the City of Norwalk and State of Connecticut, the Aquarium recently began a $40 million capital construction project to replace the IMAX Theater and the harbor seal exhibit, to be completed over the next year, as a prelude to the replacement of the Walk Bridge, major construction scheduled to begin in 2021.   



Position Title:            Associate Director of Development                                       9/2020 Reports to:                 Director of Development        Position Status:         Full Time/Exempt                                         


The Associate Director of Development (ADOD) will possess a blend of frontline fundraising experience and long term strategic planning. As an integral member of the The Maritime Aquarium’s Development team, this position is responsible for building and maintaining a strong base of supporters across all funding sources, including: individuals, foundations, corporations, events and government donors.  The ADOD will be responsible for building and maintaining a robust pipeline from identification, cultivation, soliciting and stewarding. As the Aquarium executes its most aggressive fundraising campaign in its history, the ability to contribute to overall plans, participate in problem solving and collaborate with multiple colleagues within and across departments is critical. 




Identify, Cultivate and Secure Grants and Contributions

  • Prospect personal leads via Trustees and other influencers, and identify new leads to develop the ADOD’s portfolio.
  • Maintain an active pipeline of donors with capacity to give five-seven figure gifts.
  • Execute donor-specific cultivation and solicitation strategies, make ongoing assessments about their efficacy and modify fundraising strategies as needed. Secure gifts.
  • Partner to develop specific opportunities for investment that are compelling to high-value donors.
  • Identify and develop new fundraising initiatives / upsells across the supporter base.
  • Support annual appeal along with other donor appeals / outreach (online and offline); coordinate with internal stakeholder and external vendors.


Cultivation, Stewardship and Engagement

  • Ensure timely and accurate donor acknowledgments, pledge/payment reminders and reports.
  • Deliver high quality, high value donor experiences (i.e. VIP tours, private dinners, etc.).
  • Partner with the Aquarium’s research vessel staff to develop unique donor experiences.


Event Management

  • Support The Maritime Aquarium’s signature events such as, but not limited to our annual gala and golf— from start to finish, with the goals of: increasing ROI and improving event specific donor acquisition and retention.


Development Strategy

  • Work closely with the Director of Development in the design and execution of a comprehensive development strategy to meet both the short and long-term goals of the Aquarium.
  • Support the alignment of resources to deliver against goals.



  • Maintain accurate, up-to-date donor records in the fundraising database and pipeline tools.
  • Maintain professional knowledge by attending educational workshops, reviewing professional publications, establishing personal networks, benchmarking, etc.
  • Support Director and Senior Leadership Team on projects as requested.




  • Bachelor's degree or relevant experience.
  • 5-7 years of development experience.
  • Proven ability to build strong relationships with a variety of constituents, including high net worth individuals.
  • Proven track record in cultivating and soliciting five-seven figure gifts; planned giving commitments a plus.
  • Strong creative thinking capability to develop engagement strategies with maximum impact.
  • Exceptional listener with ability to understand the needs and motivations of others, find common ground and synthesize information into compelling narratives.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively.
  • Exceptional strategic thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Strong organizational skills, high attention to detail and discipline in stewarding donor information and database records.
  • A high level of integrity and a strong work ethic.
  • Professional presentation and demeanor that inspires confidence in high net worth prospects, donors and Trustees.
  • High fluency in Microsoft Office Suite.


This job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job.  Duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice.



Please send a cover letter, CV and salary requirements to Rosemarie Lombardi at, with Associate Director of Development in the subject line of your email.  No phone calls please.


The Maritime Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity. All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply.