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National Aquarium

Our People

Leadership Team

John Racanelli

John C. Racanelli
President and CEO

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As president and CEO of the National Aquarium, John leads a team of 600 full-time and part-time employees and 1,000 volunteers in pursuing the Aquarium's mission to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures. The Aquarium welcomes 1.3 million guests annually at its campus on Baltimore's famous Inner Harbor, and touches millions more through its engaging guest experiences, educational programs and community conservation initiatives.

John drives organizational priorities that evolve how the National Aquarium of the 21st century should look, operate and fulfill its mission. These priorities include three major projects through 2022—a recently completed Animal Care and Rescue Center, modernization of the Aquarium's waterfront campus for public urban conservation engagement and creation of North America's first dolphin sanctuary.

John joined the National Aquarium in July 2011 after 10 years as president of a San Francisco-based consulting firm that he founded to provide expert counsel to nonprofit leaders nationally and globally. During that time, his firm worked with over 30 leading cultural and conservation organizations—among them the Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Surfrider Foundation.

公和我做好爽Prior to this, John spent 16 years in leadership positions at U.S. aquariums, including as CEO of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, and vice president of marketing and development for Monterey Bay Aquarium. While in college, John began his career as a diver and aquarist, experiences that he credits with giving him great appreciation for the work of everyone on the Aquarium team. John majored in environmental studies at the University of California and holds a degree in strategic management from Dominican University of California.

Dale Schmidt

Dale Schmidt
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

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公和我做好爽As a member of the Aquarium's senior leadership team, Dale is responsible for capital planning, exhibit development, building operations, animal care and husbandry, finance and accounting, and information technology.

公和我做好爽Dale has more than 30 years of experience working for accredited zoological organizations. He served as president and CEO of the Columbus Zoological Association; president and CEO of Oregon Coast Aquarium; executive director of Clearwater Marine Aquarium; and vice president of operations of the Florida Aquarium. He has also worked in operations for such organizations as Universal Studios Florida and Busch Entertainment Corporation.

Dale, who currently serves as chair of the Business Operations Special Committee for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, served as vice chairman of the Zoo and Aquarium Committee for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attraction. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in natural sciences from the University of South Florida and attended the Stanford Nonprofit Management Institute.

Margot Amelia

Margot Amelia
Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer

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公和我做好爽Margot brings more than 25 years of marketing experience to the National Aquarium leadership team. As senior vice president and chief marketing officer, she is responsible for the development and execution of the Aquarium's marketing plan to achieve financial and strategic objectives.

Before joining the Aquarium, Margot served as executive director for the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, where she was responsible for marketing the state of Maryland as a destination. Her consumer-driven marketing strategies—which targeted key feeder markets through digital and traditional marketing channels—resulted in record-breaking years of visitation, visitor spending and state sales tax revenue in Maryland. She also launched the Maryland Green Tourism certification program in 2009.

Prior to the Maryland Office of Tourism, Margot worked for the Baltimore Convention and Visitors Association (now known as Visit Baltimore); for GKV (Gray Kirk Vansant Advertising) in various management positions; for Smith Burke & Azzam; and for Amelia & Associates.

公和我做好爽Margot currently serves on the U.S. Travel Association's Experience Network Board of Directors, which represents visitor-serving organizations within the national association for travel and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Driban Headshot

Jennifer Driban
Senior Vice President, External Affairs

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Jennifer Riggs Driban serves as the senior vice president of external affairs for the National Aquarium. In this role, Jennifer leads the Aquarium's efforts to build meaningful relationships with community, political and government leaders. She oversees the Aquarium's conservation programs, government affairs strategy and conservation policy work. She collaborates with conservation leaders to strategically grow the Aquarium's impact through community engagement and field programs, increased policy advocacy and education programs that emphasize specific conservation actions people can take in their daily lives.

Jennifer is an established government affairs professional with experience in lobbying, constituent services, public speaking, community engagement, fundraising, advocacy and policy development. Before joining the National Aquarium, Jennifer served as a member of Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger's senior staff where she acted as a representative and adviser, managed his district office staff and activities, and oversaw the development and implementation of constituent services and outreach strategy. Jennifer also has experience working for and with Maryland state government, the Maryland General Assembly, Baltimore City, and many counties and municipal governments.

She serves on several boards including the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and Emerge Maryland, volunteers with various community nonprofits and membership organizations and resides with her family in Baltimore City. She is an active alumna of the Professional Leadership Program for Women out of Towson University. Jennifer earned a Bachelor of Science in political science and metropolitan studies from Towson University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Baltimore and Towson University.

Scott Douglas Melton

Scott Douglas Melton
Senior Vice President, Chief Philanthropy Officer

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As senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer of the National Aquarium, Scott Douglas Melton is responsible for all philanthropic functions, including capital and annual operating fundraising, and plays an integral role in setting long-term strategies for all aspects of the Aquarium's operations and future.

Scott is an established fundraising professional with experience ranging from local nonprofits, higher education institutions, and advocacy organizations. Before joining the Aquarium as vice president of individual giving Scott served as the senior director of individual giving for the NAACP, where he managed the direct response marketing, planned giving, major giving, and development operation activities. During his tenure at the NAACP Scott was successful in creating dynamic integrated marketing campaigns that made it possible for the Association to more than triple the size of their donor base.

公和我做好爽Scott is a graduate of Winthrop University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in integrated marketing communication. He sits on a number of boards and is recognized as an expert within the fundraising community, often invited to speak at national and local conferences.

Candace Osunsade

Candace Osunsade
Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer

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公和我做好爽For over 25 years, Candace has been a strategic business partner and human resources leader, helping organizations and professionals maximize their potential while driving business results. She is experienced in innovative and transformational change with expertise in talent management, organizational development, compensation, talent acquisition, employee engagement, project management, and HR system design and implementation.

公和我做好爽By implementing structure and managing transformational change through incremental and digestible steps, Candace has led the transition of the National Aquarium's HR department from a tactical internal service function to one that is a true strategic partner Examples of her accomplishments include the implementation of a fully functional human resource information system; strategic workforce planning based on talent assessment; nine-box succession planning; goals-based performance assessment; a competitive compensation program with data-driven decision making around merit and incentive awards, promotions and equity; and a best-in-class benefits program that includes a virtual wellness program and a financially stable self-funded medical and prescription plan.

In 2015, Candace was honored with the Chief HR Officer of the Year award by HRO Today magazine, a recognition celebrating the chief human resource officers that help drive workforce initiatives through innovation, with measurable excellence in employee engagement and retention to prove it. Candace believes in "investing in our future" and is heavily involved in a number of efforts around working with young people from underserved and poorly represented communities.

She is leading a groundbreaking fundraising effort to grow the College Success Scholars Program at University of Maryland, College Park; leading the Carver Foundation Board to launch a mentoring program for first-generation college-bound students; launching a mentoring program to enhance the Cornell University experience for women of color; and is involved in the YouthWorks program in Baltimore City.

Candace is a graduate of Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership alum, is Myers Briggs Qualified and is Six Sigma trained.

Ismael Savadogo Headshot

Ismael Savadogo
Chief Financial Officer

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Ismael Savadogo is an established finance and accounting professional who brings experience from both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors to the National Aquarium leadership team.

公和我做好爽Previously, Ismael was the chief financial officer at Color Of Change, the nation's largest digital racial justice organization, where he directed financial management and accounting functions in support of the organization's growth strategy. Before joining Color Of Change, he spent a year working abroad as a consulting CFO and special advisor at COP-EL, a regional nonprofit based in West Africa, where he negotiated multi-year grant subsidies with national governments and regional institutions to fund affordable electrification programs for a range of underserved communities in sub-Saharan countries.

Before spending time abroad, Ismael was CFO and vice president of operations at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a public opinion research and consultancy firm. Prior to his roles as head of finance, Ismael worked in corporate finance and investment banking, and he started his career as an investment banking associate with Salomon Smith Barney, the investment banking operations of Citigroup.

Ismael currently serves on the board of the United States Tennis Association Mid-Atlantic and serves as treasurer on the board of the global organization SumOfUs.

Ismael graduated from the ISIAM, University of Quebec in Morocco, and received his MBA from Dowling College's Townsend School of Business.

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