CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas State Aquarium has hired interim president and CEO Jesse Gilbert as the president and CEO of the facility.
The appointment followed a unanimous vote of the Aquarium's executive committee.
Gilbert has more than 21 years of experience in executive and non-profit leadership, strategic business planning, crisis management, budget management and external partnerships. He had served about a month in the interim role after replacing Thomas Schmid, who left the TSA to become the president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo.
"I am extremely pleased to have Jesse assume leadership of the Texas State Aquarium," said Charles W. Zahn, Jr., the aquarium's chief of the board of trustees. "Jesse brings more than two decades of experience and a proven record in leading the facility. Jesse has my utmost confidence, and I look forward to working closely with him to support the Aquarium's mission."
Gilbert joined the Texas State Aquarium as an aquarist in 2003. During his tenure there, he has served as the aquarium's aquarist, senior aquarist, curator of fishes and reptiles, its director of Animal Husbandry; vice president, Chief Operating Officer, senior vice president and his recent president and CEO job.
He holds bachelor's degrees in biology and marine and field science, a Master of Science in fisheries and mariculture, and is currently working towards a master's degree in Business Administration. Additionally, he has serve on numerous Association of Zoos and Aquariums committees, including its animal welfare and aquarium affairs committee and he currently serves as an AZA institutional accreditation inspector.
Gilbert's experience, commitment to the TSA's mission, and leadership have been critical to its success and continued growth. He has led the TSA through many challenging times— including Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Hanna, the pandemic, and Winter Storm Uri’s cold stunning event—one of its most significant conservation works in its 31-year history.
Gilbert recognizes the TSA's role in the community's economic development, education, conservation and wildlife rescue, and looks forward to working with staff, partners and donors to expand the Aquarium's Wildlife Rescue program.
He will oversee the completion of the TSA's new Port of Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue that will fall under the Institute for Wildlife Conservation umbrella at the Texas State Aquarium. The Rescue Center is scheduled to open in Fall 2022.
Gilbert aims to enhance educational opportunities in the community and promote workforce development at the Aquarium. He serves as adjunct graduate faculty in the Department of Life Sciences at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and promotes graduate student research at the TSA, including coral conservation efforts and shark surveys in Corpus Christi Bay.
“I am excited to lead this remarkable organization that is singularly committed to continue its mission of engaging people with animals and inspiring appreciation for our seas and supporting wildlife conservation,” Gilbert said. “I am honored to be part of an exceptional team of talented and passionate individuals who care so deeply about the aquarium and its future.”