Pacific Whale Foundation Welcomes New Leaders

January 16, 2020, 6:32 PM HST · Updated January 16, 6:32 PM
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Pacific Whale Foundation announced the addition of two new Members of the Board of Directors and its first-ever Programs Director to the team.  The announcement comes as the organization celebrates 40 years of marine research, education and conservation this year.

Board Members are ultimately responsible that the Foundation adheres to legal standards and ethical norms, and meet quarterly to discuss operations at its Maui headquarters, its partnerships and programs in Australia, Ecuador, Chile and its involvement with both the International Whaling Commission and International Marine Mammal Conservation Conferences.

Joining the Board this year is CPA Courtney Hathaway.  She said, “environmental stewardship and conservation are topics that have become increasingly important to me throughout my life and have taken on heightened significance due to global environmental challenges that are becoming increasingly apparent every day. I love whales and believe that my educational and career background are a good fit for Pacific Whale Foundation. I look forward to the opportunity to use my skills and experience to assist in executing on the Foundation’s mission and goals.” Hathaway brings skills in accounting, auditing, compliance and governance to the Board.

With a lifelong passion for nature and the environment, long-time Foundation volunteer and management executive Bob Wood also joins the Board.

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“I believe that we are all obligated to do what we can to preserve the environment for future generations, while balancing the real world challenges of living within our chosen society,” said Wood.

Having spent most of his adult life engaged in activities that support this balance, Wood also has 40-plus years of experience managing workflow technology, quality assurance and bottom line performance. He brings to the PWF Board an expertise in process management, financial control and technology infrastructure as well as seasoned experience guiding nonprofit organizations through stabilization, growth and leadership transitions.

Hathaway and Wood join Foundation Board Members Wayne White, former Chief of the Endangered Species Program with the US Fish and Wildlife Service; MaryKate “MK” Rosack, Director of Marketing with Procter & Gamble and Darden Restaurants; Kevin Wood, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Operations Research Department, at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he formerly served as Associate Dean of Research; and Marine Ecologist Eric Brown of the National Park of American Samoa.

Following a 3-monthlong local and national search for the Foundation’s first-ever Programs Director, Harrison Schmitt will play a critical role in developing, implementing, and articulating the vision and direction of the Foundation’s Research, Conservation, and Education programs.

In this role, he will oversee a high performing team of four individuals, managing relationships with project partners on Maui as well as with affiliate partnerships in Australia, Ecuador, and Chile – and – secure funds necessary to sustain and expand program work.

Schmitt said, “the core values that have guided my work were inspired by my first social change experience in Zanzibar, Tanzania. As an undergraduate student with the School for International Training studying and promoting environmental education programs, I learned the importance of collaborating with diverse community partners, challenging my assumptions and adapting to unforeseen circumstances. I also gained the humility required to build effective relationships, learn from my mistakes and overcome heart-wrenching setbacks along the way.”

Schmitt is a senior-level manager, government affairs advisor and communications strategist with a 20-year track record of securing measurable results for high-demand nonprofits, elected officials and philanthropic foundations.

Prior to joining PWF, Harrison served as the Vice President of Programs and Strategy at Western Resource Advocates in Boulder, CO where he developed growth plans that aligned the organization’s vision and culture to leverage changes in climate, water, and public lands policy. He also served as the Government Affairs Director for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program in Austin, TX. There, Harrison collaborated with coastal communities to advance science-based fishery management strategies in the Gulf of Mexico.

As director of programs, this position completes the Foundation’s core leadership team restructure which also includes executive, commercial operations, marketing & development, human resources and finance directors.

This restructure follows the 2018 passing of Pacific Whale Foundation founder and 38-year director Greg Kaufman. The staff and Board of Pacific Whale Foundation continue to honor his legacy through its mission to protect the ocean through science and advocacy, and to inspire environmental stewardship.

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