The Texas State Aquarium Board of Directors Appointed Jesse Gilbert as Interim President and CEO

November 24, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - The Texas State Aquarium Board of Directors appointed Jesse Gilbert, the Aquarium’s current Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, as Interim President and CEO. Mr. Gilbert succeeds long-time President and CEO, Tom Schmid. The appointment becomes effective today, November 24, 2021. He has over 21 years of experience in executive and non-profit leadership, strategic business planning, crisis management, budget management, and external partnerships.

He joined the Texas State Aquarium as an Aquarist in 2003. Over the years, Jesse has served as the Aquarium Aquarist, Senior Aquarist, Curator of Fishes and Reptiles, Director of Animal Husbandry, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Senior VP. He holds bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Marine and Field Science, a Master of Science in Fisheries and Mariculture, and is currently working towards a master’s in Business Administration. Jesse has served on numerous Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) committees, including the Animal Welfare and Aquarium Affairs committee, and he currently serves as an AZA institutional accreditation inspector.

Jesse’s experience, commitment to the Aquarium’s mission, and leadership have been critical to the Aquarium’s success and continued growth. He has led the Aquarium through many challenging times— including Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Hanna, the pandemic, and the February 2021 cold stunning event—one of the Aquarium’s most significant conservation works in its 31-year history.

“Jesse Gilbert is the ideal person to lead during this period of transition for the Texas State Aquarium. His extensive background in Animal Sciences and Aquarium Operations is what’s needed in a leader, in order for the Texas State Aquarium to continue its mission of engaging people with animals and inspiring appreciation for our seas and supporting wildlife conservation.” said the TSA’s Sr. Vice President of Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer Julio Flores.

Jesse recognizes the Aquarium’s critical role in the community’s economic development, education, conservation, and wildlife rescue, and looks forward to working with staff, partners, and donors to expand the Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue program. He will oversee the completion of the Aquarium’s new Port of Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue that will fall under the umbrella of the Institute for Wildlife Conservation at the Texas State Aquarium. The Rescue Center is scheduled to open in Fall 2022.

Jesse aims to enhance educational opportunities in the community and promote workforce development at the Aquarium. Jesse serves as adjunct graduate faculty in the Department of Life Sciences at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and promotes graduate student research at the Aquarium, including coral conservation efforts and shark surveys in Corpus Christi Bay.

“The future of this organization is bright,” said the TSA’s Interim President and Chief Executive Officer Jesse Gilbert, “I want to continue the trajectory we are on and take the programs that we have, such as education, conservation, and wildlife rescue, and help those programs grow to their fullest potential.”

The Aquarium and its mission are in good hands.


The Texas State Aquarium (TSA), the Official Aquarium of the State of Texas, is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) institution that is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Its mission is to engage people with animals, inspire appreciation for our seas and support wildlife conservation. TSA, the largest Aquarium in Texas, cares for over 4,000 animals and has been named the #5 Aquarium in North America by USA Today. Learn more at

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