Letters from Leadership

Executive Director Julie Packard and Board of Trustees Chairman Stephen C. Neal share thoughts and reflections on our accomplishments in 2018.

Julie Packard stands in the Great Tide Pool behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Change was all around us in 2018, from social unrest to climate disruption. And the ocean was no exception. The clock is ticking to make the right decisions to protect and restore the ocean. While the needs remain urgent, I'm filled with hope for the future. Millions of people draw inspiration from the Aquarium — and, increasingly, look to us to advocate for ocean wildlife. In 2018, we stepped up our role as a global player taking on the biggest threats to ocean health: unsustainable fisheries and aquaculture, plastic pollution and climate change.

Together, we're growing our influence, and making a difference.

I'm especially proud of the ways we help young people find their voices as ocean advocates. Thanks to your generosity, we'll unleash more of their talents when our new Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership opens summer 2019.

In 2018, working with California leaders, we put the ocean on the agenda at the Global Climate Action Summit. We drove progress to advance sustainable seafood through new partnerships with some of the world's largest seafood businesses. And we took action to tackle plastic pollution through legislation, public outreach and new research initiatives.

We expanded our facilities to better meet the growing needs of animals in our living exhibits and at the same time support recovery of threatened ocean wildlife. I'm pleased to say the new Juli Plant Grainger Animal Care Center is now in full swing.

We're demonstrating solutions that work and making tangible progress during these challenging times. I'm so grateful to you for making ours the best aquarium in the world — and a recognized leader in ocean conservation, education and policy. I hope you feel proud of all you're helping us accomplish to assure a healthy ocean for future generations. I'm deeply grateful. Thank you!


Education has always been a top priority for the Aquarium. We were founded by individuals who shared a passion for science and for teaching. We've always recognized that we can — through our programs for visiting school groups, teens and teachers — help prepare new generations of science-literate citizens our society so urgently needs.

That was the motivation behind our new Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership. This ambitious project came to fruition because of your support and generosity. With construction now complete, we can begin to deliver on our vision for education programs in our state.

Our dedicated and talented team of educators is preparing to deliver desperately needed programs in ecosystem-based science. California leads the nation in science and technology, but ranks near the bottom in public school spending and student performance in science. And only a limited number of California schools even offer an environmental education curriculum.

When the Aquarium opened 35 years ago, David Packard and the founding Board of Trustees decided it was important to provide free admission to children and teachers coming here with their schools — a promise that remains true today — thanks to your generous support.

On behalf of our board, thank you.

Chairman Stephen C. Neal

As of March 2019

Members of the board of trustees on the back deck of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Back row, left to right: Tegan Acton, Caroline Getty, Gideon Yu, Samantha Campbell, Michael Mantell, Connie Martinez, Mark Wan, Meg Caldwell, MRC Greenwood and Chris Scholin. Front row, left to right: Pietro Parravano, Stephen Neal, Julie Packard, Susan Orr, William Landreth. Not pictured: Susan Bell, Peter Bing and Joan Lane.

Annual Review 2018 (PDF)

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  • © Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation