As CEO of the National Aquarium, John leads a team of six hundred full- and part-time employees and one thousand volunteers in pursuing the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. The Aquarium welcomes 1.3 million guests annually at its campus on Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor, while touching millions more through its conservation-education and engagement programs, social media platforms and conservation-action initiatives.
A passionate advocate for the ocean, John and his team manage one of the world’s leading aquariums and pursue local, regional and global efforts aimed at changing the way humanity views and cares for the ocean that sustains us all.
John joined the National Aquarium in July 2011 after ten years as president of a San Francisco-based consulting firm that he founded to provide expert counsel to nonprofit leaders nationally and globally. During that time, his firm worked with over thirty leading cultural and conservation organizations—among them the Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Surfrider Foundation—as well as technology giant Google, where he assisted author and oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle in bringing the ocean into Google Earth, the most popular Earth visualization tool in existence.
Prior to this, John spent sixteen years in leadership positions at US aquariums. He was the first CEO of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, where he built the facility, team, and vision for Tampa Bay’s leading cultural attraction. He joined the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium one year prior to its opening, serving for nine years on its leadership team as vice president of marketing and development. While in college, John began his career as a diver and aquarist, experiences that he credits with giving him great appreciation for the work of everyone on the Aquarium team.
Fluent in Spanish, John holds a degree in strategic management from Dominican University of California. He is a scuba diver, open-water swimmer, sailor, and surfer. His weekly radio show and podcast on WYPR public radio, “A Blue View,” explores important issues related to the aquatic world. John and his spouse, Susan, are proud residents of Canton, Baltimore’s historic waterfront district.
Contributions to HumansandNature.org:
To Conserve Is To Care: How an Emphasis on Animal Welfare Is Transforming Zoos and Aquariums
A response to "How can zoos and aquariums foster cultures of care and conservation?
- A Blue View
Listen to John Racanelli's radio program from WYPR.