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Aquarium of Niagara file photo by Mark Williams Jr.
Aquarium of Niagara file photo by Mark Williams Jr.

Aquarium of Niagara names Chad Fifer as president and CEO


Wed, May 1st 2024 10:45 am

The Niagara Aquarium Foundation board of trustees on Wednesday announced the appointment of Chad Fifer as president and CEO of the Aquarium of Niagara. His official start date is June 17.

“When we began our national search, we were looking for a candidate with the right mix of leadership, fundraising, and animal care experience,” said Christine Lorenz, chair, Niagara Aquarium Foundation board of trustees. “Chad checked all the boxes, bringing an exciting energy and strategically focused approach to leadership and collaboration, coupled with being an effective fundraiser and visionary innovator. As a board, we are confident that Chad is the right leader to build on the aquarium’s current momentum, while positioning the organization for continued growth into the future.”

With nearly 25 years of zoological, education and development experience, Fifer joins the Aquarium of Niagara from Dayton Society of Natural History in Dayton, Ohio, where he served as chief operating officer for the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and SunWatch Native American Village. Prior to that, he served as director of education at the Nashville Zoo and held positions with Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Zoo Knoxville, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and Brevard Zoo.

Fifer currently serves as vice chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ conservation education committee, and on the advisory board for the Modeling Zoos and Aquariums as Inclusive Communities of Science Project. He will be relocating to Western New York with his young family in the coming months.

Chad Fifer (Aquarium of Niagara photo)


“This is an amazing opportunity to lead a strong team responsible for such a vibrant and growing cultural institution like the Aquarium of Niagara,” Fifer said. “It’s an exciting time with the opening of ‘Great Lakes 360,’ the aquarium’s largest expansion project in its history, only months away, and I look forward to collaborating with the team, the board of trustees, stakeholders, and the community as we enhance the aquarium experience and its offerings for both residents and visitors alike.”

Gary Siddall, the former president and CEO, took the same position with the Buffalo Museum of Science and Tifft Nature Preserve.

Tracie Schafer, the Aquarium of Niagara’s vice president of finance and administration, has been serving as interim president and CEO since Feb. 1.

“Thank you to Tracie and the entire leadership team for their outstanding commitment during this transition. They never skipped a beat from day-to-day operations to special events and preparing to open ‘Great Lakes 360’ this summer,” Lorenz said. 

The Aquarium of Niagara is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization home to more than 120 different species, including eight rescued and non-releasable marine mammals. The venue is open at 9 a.m. daily year-round, except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. For more information, visit aquariumofniagara.org.

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