Harry HellingHarry Helling, who started his career more than 30 years ago as an associate curator at the T. Wayland Vaughan Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has been named the new executive director of the Birch Aquarium.Helling will start work next week.
Most recently, Helling served as the president and CEO of the Crystal Cove Alliance at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Coast, Calif.There, he led the development of innovative K-12 marine science education programs such as an ocean acidification lab and an after-school bioacoustics and endangered-bird monitoring program.He also contributed to conservation planning by developing partnerships with land managers, researchers, and user groups to improve science-based resource management across a 40,000-acre reserve.
Helling just completed six years as founding board chair of The Ecology Center, a new nonprofit devoted to Orange County's only organic farm, promoting sustainable solutions for water, energy, food, and shelter.
Previously, Helling was executive vice president, education and program development, at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.For 14 years, he served as director of the Dana Point Marine Life Refuge and founder of the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council, a countywide collaborative focused on improving enforcement, science, and education in the area's most sensitive marine habitat.
"Our break-through with State Parks came when we discovered that we need a different type of decision-making paradigm here; none of us can make a unilateral decision in this space…when that was finally acknowledged, everything broke through and we were solving problems together."- Harry Helling, President of Crystal Cove Alliance
The president of CCA, Harry Helling, a long-time conservationist and marine biologist, developed a cross-sector collaboration program that advances CCA's conservation and education mission, abides by the new environmental regulations dictated by the state in Crystal Cove State Park, and helps to preserve the financial viability of commercial fishermen.
When Harry left his position as a research associate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he spent over two decades helping to grow the Ocean Institute, into a nationally acclaimed marine education organization.In 2008, he brought his extensive management experience and scientific knowledge to Crystal Cove Alliance to further its collaborative conservation efforts.
Harry served on the executive team that oversaw the growth of The Ocean Institute into an organization with 130 staff and a $9 million annual budget.He helped to build a financially sustainable organization by making earned income an essential part of The Ocean Institute's non-profit culture.
He also developed high-level management and strategic planning skills built on commitment to partnerships and social enterprise; his final project at The Institute was a successful $16.5 million capital campaign and the construction of a new five-building campus.
Harry attributes his leadership success to his agility not only with numbers, but also with getting different organizations to work together - non-profit, academic, and state - in a broader and interconnected ecosystems.
An experienced manager of non-profit conservation organizations, Harry fostered communication across sectors through his ability to speak "for-profit language.
Harry has 25 years of experience in the conservation and education non-profit field, and has maintained a passion for marine conservation throughout.His desire to address conservation issues through improved education and awareness about oceans, especially for young people, has been a guiding professional principle.
He saw the opportunity to combine his expertise and his passion at CCA, and committed himself to working with the state of California in order to create a new model for how non-profits can partner with California's state parks to improve effectiveness and efficiency of resource management.
Harry noted that "It doesn't matter which side of the vote you were on, both sides want a healthier environment with more fish."
By increasing profits for the private sector, and creating new programs to improve CCA's own mission, Harry has developed CCA into a model non-profit for collaborative resource management with the capability of scaling-up.
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