Endowment Society: Protecting the Ocean for Future Generations

Millions of people draw inspiration from the Aquarium and look to us to be a voice for the ocean and its wildlife. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and members, we are tackling the gravest threats to ocean health — threats not only to ocean ecosystems but to our planet's life support system.

The challenges ahead are great and demand even greater resources. To help meet these challenges, in 1996 we established our Endowment Fund for the Future of the Ocean. Each year, a portion of the investment income from the fund is directed to help support our education programs, animal care, exhibits and global ocean conservation initiatives — everything we do to inspire conservation of the ocean.

We created our Children's Education Endowment Fund in 2011 to guarantee free admission to the Aquarium for schoolchildren — in perpetuity. Providing free visits for school groups has been our hallmark since we opened in 1984, and we have welcomed over 2.5 million children free of charge. Contributions to this special endowment will make it possible for future generations to enjoy this same opportunity.

To mark the Aquarium's 35th anniversary, we created our new Endowment Society to recognize donors who are helping to secure our programs for the future through their generous support to build our endowment.
Several of our dedicated members and donors have come forward to create personal endowment funds in their names or to honor a loved one.
Personal endowments can be established with gifts of $100,000 or more and may be pledged over a number of years. These donors are welcomed into our Endowment Society and receive special recognition on a new plaque in the Aquarium.
Endowment Society donors may even direct their fund's support toward an area of special interest such as animal care, education programs, global conservation initiatives, exhibits or to guarantee free admission for schoolchildren and teachers. In addition, they receive annual progress reports on all they are making possible. Individuals who establish a personal endowment with a gift or pledge during our anniversary year are recognized as founding members of our new Endowment Society.
With deep appreciation, we are proud to honor our founding members for their generosity and thoughtful support in joining our Endowment Society.

Founding Members of the Endowment Society as of Aug. 1, 2019

  • Anonymous
  • Wallis Annenberg
  • Eugene Cheng, MD and Maribeth Colloton
  • John and Jean De Nault
  • Richard G. and Mae F. Dong
  • Jane B. Dunaway
  • M. Jean Fisher
  • The Gill Family Trust in memory of Ravinderjit Kaur Gill
  • Charles E. Halfmann and G. Robert Yee
  • Wendy W. Kwok and Family
  • Douglas Lee and Kellee Noonan
  • Worth and Andy Ludwick
  • Susan and Jay Mandell
  • Dr. Hugh A. McAllister Jr.
  • John and Judith Mitchell in memory of Megan Liane Mitchell
  • Dean Morton
  • Pamela J. Pescosolido
  • Mary K. Powell
  • Denise Foderaro and Frank Quattrone
  • Dr. Thomas Weber and Stephanie Reib
  • Walter and Ramona Reichl
  • Jane and Chuck Rubey
  • Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation
  • Robert and Janice Scott Foundation
  • Curtis and Priscilla Tamkin
  • Suzanne Francoeur Taunt
  • The Terry Family Foundation
  • Leon Thomas and Betty Bird
  • Alan Williams

All gifts of $1,000 or more toward our endowment fund are needed and greatly appreciated. We're especially grateful to our Ocean Legacy Circle donors for remembering the Monterey Bay Aquarium and our endowment fund in their estate plans. For more information, contact Eric Weis at 831.648.4877 or

Creating a Legacy for the Ocean

Meg and Rich Donat standing on the Aquarium back deck in front of Monterey Bay

When it comes to Meg Donat's personal commitment to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and ocean conservation, she embodies the words "loyal" and "dedicated." She's a 35-year Charter Member and donor who began volunteering as a diver before the Aquarium opened. In fact, Meg started cleaning windows as soon as seawater flowed into the exhibits!

Meg's journey began in 1965 when she took her first dive course as the only woman in the class. Later on, after she became a scuba diving instructor, she helped inspire a new generation of female divers herself. Meg has also been inducted as a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Among her many achievements, Meg is especially proud to be an ocean advocate. She sums up her volunteer service at the Aquarium this way: "I love the water and have enjoyed the best volunteer job!"

Many Aquarium visitors feel inspired when they see a female diver. Meg often waves and throws kisses to babies in the audience during her Kelp Forest feeding shows. When one returned as a young child three years later to meet the diver who threw her a kiss, Meg was deeply touched.
Meg and her husband Rich have been married for 32 years and dive buddies for 30 years.
"When you've been diving as long as we have, you see the negative impacts of human activities," Meg said. "We feel it's important to help the Aquarium inspire conservation of the ocean. That's why we joined the Ocean Legacy Circle 10 years ago. Our estate plan includes a gift toward the Aquarium's Endowment Fund for the Future of the Ocean to help secure its conservation programs for future generations."
We're deeply grateful to Meg, Rich and all of our Ocean Legacy Circle donors.

Ocean Legacy Circle

Our Ocean Legacy Circle includes 591 donors who have designated gifts to the Aquarium through their will, living trust or another part of their estate plan. Their contributions include bequests, charitable remainder trusts, real estate, designations of retirement plans and insurance policies. We're deeply grateful to the following donors for allowing us to recognize their dedication to the Aquarium and a future with a healthy ocean. We look forward to honoring them at our annual Ocean Legacy Circle Reception in October.

View Ocean Legacy Circle donors (PDF)