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Former Obama Aide Heather Zichal Joins Blue Prosperity Coalition as Executive Director

Washington D.C., June 17th, 2019 – Heather Zichal has joined the Waitt Foundation as Executive Director of the Blue Prosperity Coalition, a global network of governments, NGOs, academia, scientists, and ocean experts working to advance ocean conservation goals by balancing sustainable use of marine resources with economic growth.

Ms. Zichal brings with her deep experience in the public and private sector. Most recently, she served as the Vice President of Corporate Engagement for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), coordinating engagement with multi-lateral corporations to advance innovative approaches to some of the world’s most complex sustainability challenges. Ms. Zichal also served as the lead Obama White House aide on energy and climate issues. In her role as the Deputy Assistant to the President for energy and climate change, she was instrumental in the design and execution of numerous policies and regulations to reduce carbon pollution and enhance protection of natural resources. Ms. Zichal has extensive experience on Capitol Hill, including working as former Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry's Legislative Director.


“Protecting the ocean is a critical component in the global fight for climate resilience. By taking bold steps to reach the goal of protecting 30% of the ocean, we will make huge strides towards long-term economic sustainability, food security, resilience from storms, and protection of the biodiversity of marine life.” Heather Zichal commented.


The Blue Prosperity Coalition offers world-class planning, legal, advocacy, strategy, and scientific expertise to help governments achieve 30% marine protection while sustainably growing their ocean economies. Founding members include the Waitt Institute, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, Oceans 5, Ocean Unite, Dynamic Planet and the Waitt Foundation.


“On behalf of the Blue Prosperity Coalition we are thrilled to have Heather’s extensive expertise on our side while we work to protect oceans globally. Her longstanding history of uniting stakeholders, governments, and communities on environmental topics will be invaluable in our work to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.” said Ted Waitt, Founder and Chairman of the Waitt Foundation and Blue Prosperity Coalition founding member.


The global ocean economy is estimated at $24 Trillion USD, yet ocean resources are declining rapidly worldwide - bombarded with human-imposed threats like overfishing, pollution and climate change. Experts recommend strongly protecting at least 30% of the world’s ocean to help maintain marine resources while maximizing yields and sustainable economic growth. In 2016, intergovernmental organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) set a global target to protect “30% of each marine habitat” in “highly protected areas with no extractive activities” by 2030. 


Through the Waitt Foundation and Waitt Institute, the Blue Prosperity Coalition has formed partnerships with the Regional Government of the Azores, Bermuda, Curaçao, Barbuda and the Kingdom of Tonga, and continues to expand their work with committed governments to reach the global target of 30% protection. In February, the Regional Government of the Azores vowed to protect 150,000 km2 of their waters. Earlier this June, the Government of Bermuda committed to protecting at least 90,000 km2 in no-take marine reserves. 


Based in San Diego, CA, the Waitt Foundation and Waitt Institute play a leading role in the Blue Prosperity Coalition’s Marine Spatial Planning process. The Waitt foundation is a grant-making organization that provides funding for Blue Prosperity Coalition initiatives. The Waitt Institute is an operating foundation that partners with governments to achieve sustainable ocean management through Marine Spatial Planning, fisheries management, and community stewardship with each Blue Prosperity site.


At the Waitt Foundation, Heather will fully dedicate her time to leading the Blue Prosperity Coalition. This newly created position will work closely alongside Cherie Prothro-Shea, Managing Director of the Waitt Foundation, and Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, J.D., Executive Director of the Waitt Institute. She will be based in Washington D.C.


For media requests, please contact:

Waitt Foundation

Shayna Brody | | +1 719 229 5237


Editors Notes

About the Blue Prosperity Coalition

The Blue Prosperity Coalition is a global network of experts working to sustainably build economies and improve marine protection. Providing expertise, funding, and tools to governments, the Blue Prosperity Coalition aims to promote growth and prosperity while empowering sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems. A comprehensive Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) is developed for each partnership that incorporates scientific, legal, and socio-economic assessments and extensive community consultations to create long-term practical solutions to sustainable use of marine resources. Founding partners include the Waitt Institute, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, Oceans 5, Ocean Unite, Dynamic Planet and the Waitt Foundation.


5 Key Principles of Blue Prosperity

1.   Our oceans need URGENT protection.

2.   We can improve both the ENVIRONMENT and the ECONOMY at the same time.

3.   At least 30% OCEAN PROTECTION is required.

4.   Protection is best achieved via COMPREHENSIVE, science-based plans in  

      consultation with key stakeholders.

5.   Working together with committed Government leadership, we can achieve 



About the Waitt Institute & Foundation

San Diego based Waitt Institute & Foundation, established by Gateway, Inc. co-founder Ted Waitt in 1993, specializes in public-private partnership and supports high impact global ocean initiatives with the ultimate goal of sustainable, resilient and thriving seas that benefit all by partnering with unique coalitions of government, foundations & philanthropists, NGOs, academics, and businesses. The operational arm of the foundation, the Waitt Institute, partners with committed governments to develop and implement comprehensive, science-based ocean management plans that benefit both the economy and the environment.

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