Maritime Aquarium has a new boss
Ex-community banking executive to serve as president and CEO
NORWALK — The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk has chosen a former community banking executive from Easton to serve as its new president and chief executive officer.
Maureen Hanley, a businesswoman with “extensive professional and charitable involvement in Fairfield County,” was chosen by the aquarium board of trustees’ executive committee. She’ll start work Nov. 12 and focus, among other things, on keeping the aquarium’s doors open to visitors as the state replaces the Walk Bridge over the Norwalk River.
“The Walk Bridge project won’t define or consume the Maritime Aquarium. We will do more than just get through this. We will thrive,” Hanley said in a statement. “The aquarium has developed an excellent response that ensures the high level of animal care and guest experience that our visitors have come to expect. I’m excited to see this through, but to also seek new inspiring ways to tell the Aquarium’s story about Long Island Sound and to deepen the connections between our guests and our animals.”
The state plans begin replacing the bridge, which bisects the aquarium, in late 2019 and raze the IMAX Theater to stage the project.
Hanley, a former community-banking executive who specialized in commercial lending, worked as a
senior vice president-team leader of United Bank. She previously was vice president, head of commercial real estate, at Fairfield County Bank and senior vice president and co-chairwoman of the SNE Diversity Council for Commerce Bank/TD Bank.
During her 24-year banking career, she negotiated billions of dollars in loans for commercial and residential projects in Fairfield and Westchester counties, and received numerous industry awards and recognition, according to the aquarium.
The selection process for a new president began earlier this year when Brian Davis announced he would return to the Georgia Aquarium. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk enlisted global executiverecruiting firm Korn Ferry to help find a replacement for him.
The aquarium board’s executive committee chose Hanley unanimously at a meeting Wednesday. Board Chairman Michael Widland said the aquarium will benefit from Hanley’s extensive business experience in finance, construction and change management as well as “her broad connections in the community.”
“For years, Maureen has been an asset to Fairfield County in so many ways, and we’re thrilled to say that she is now the Maritime Aquarium’s asset,” Widland said in the statement. “She knows the aquarium; she knows this community; she knows the people; she has celebrated leadership skills; and she understands the issues facing the aquarium in the next few years.”
Hanley’s arrival comes as the state Department of Transportation prepares to replace the 122-year-old rail bridge and tear down the IMAX Theater. In response to the multi-year construction project, the aquarium negotiated with state and federal officials an agreement to build a “functional replacement” of the theater and “relocate and fortify elements” of the aquarium that will be lost or impacted.
Hanley will be the eighth president of the Aquarium and third woman to lead the institution, which opened in 1988, houses sharks, seals, sea turtles, river otters, jellyfish and other animals, and draws up to 500,000 visitors to Norwalk annually. A mother of three, she said visits to the aquarium have been a tradition for her family.
“While my new task is to understand and lead the aquarium as its president — I also know it as a mother,” Hanley said. “I know the impact it can have on one child, and on a classroom of students. We will continue to pursue those life-changing experiences — for individual children, and in ways that continue to help close the achievement gap in our schools.”
Maureen Hanley is the new president and CEO of the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.