Aquarium executive named Port Angeles marine center chief

Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Melissa Williams is the new executive director of the Feiro Marine Life Center at Port Angeles City Pier.

Williams, formerly vice president for learning at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium since 2011 and a staff member at the internationally known facility since 2006, will begin her new job on Wednesday.

She succeeds Deborah Moriarty.

Moriarty is now Feiro's development director, a new position, focusing on the marine center's future expansion of educational programs, research and visitor facilities.

The Feiro center may move a few blocks west of its present 3,500-square-foot City Pier site in the future if Neeser Construction Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, carries through on its plans to build a three-story, 33,500-square-foot marine science and conference center near the waterfront at Front and Oak streets.

“[Williams] has everything we were looking for — strong leadership skills, world-class experience in the business of science education and an appreciation for our place on the North Olympic Peninsula,” said Feiro board president Betsy Wharton,

She is moving to the Port Angeles area with her dog Emmett.

Moriarty has served as Feiro's director since 2008 and guided its transition from a city-owned marine lab to a nonprofit organization, preserving the late professor Arthur D. Feiro's dream of a community marine science center on the Port Angeles waterfront, according to a statement Friday from the marine life center.

“Deborah was instrumental in the formation of Feiro as a nonprofit and has been the heart of this organization for the past seven years,” Wharton said.

“The reorganization and expansion of our management team reflects the expanding scope of Feiro's strategic vision for a new and improved facility to continue Art Feiro's vision of a hands-on, community-focused marine life center.”

Feiro, who was a science instructor at Port Angeles High School and one of the first faculty members of Peninsula College, died in 1982 shortly after the marine lab opened.

Williams began her professional career in 2000 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago while completing a master's degree in instructional leadership at the University of Illinois.

During her time at Shedd — the world's largest indoor aquarium — she oversaw creation of a teen learning lab and worked on other educational projects.

The 84-year-old aquarium near Lake Michigan had more than 2 million visitors in 2013, according to its website,

Last modified: May 03. 2014 5:40PM
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