NORWALK, CT – Danielle Tranzillo, who led the efforts to raise the private and public funds that carried The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk through its COVID financial crisis last year, is the Aquarium’s new Vice President for Philanthropy and Engagement.
Tranzillo has been the Aquarium’s Director of Development since April 2020, a position she took just weeks after the South Norwalk attraction closed because of the COVID pandemic. The closing, which lasted for three months, eliminated the Aquarium’s primary source of funding: admission revenues. But Tranzillo wasted no time in creating a fund-raising campaign for an emergency response fund, and expanded efforts with new sources of funding, which in total raised $4.5 million. These funds not only kept the 7,000 animals safe and healthy, but also allowed the Aquarium to continue to serve the community by funding a new suite of virtual education programs, which ultimately won national recognition and reached a global audience.
“Joining as head of Development in the midst of the pandemic, when we had no earned revenues coming in, Danielle has met every conceivable challenge in fund-raising and exceeded every goal – ahead of schedule, I might add – along the way,” said Aquarium President and CEO Jason Patlis.
Tranzillo now will lead a new department that combines the Development and Marketing & Communications departments, as well as a new team dedicated to the Aquarium’s in-house and external creative assets.
In describing the basis for the merger, Patlis said, “We learned two big lessons through the pandemic: the first is the importance of creatively connecting to our audiences in a multitude of ways, with innovative, online, digital engagement for audiences around the world, and exciting programs and exhibits for our audiences who come to visit us in-person; and the second is the fluid nature of these connections, in which online followers can donate or come and visit, visitors can become members, and members can become donors.
“The combination of marketing and development represents a very exciting change in bringing two important departments together to work in a more leveraged, coordinated fashion to reach the full spectrum of audiences on behalf of the Aquarium,” Patlis said.
Tranzillo said she is thrilled by the opportunity.
“I look forward to using my experience to lead the Aquarium’s marketing and fund-raising efforts into the future,” Tranzillo said. “I plan to strengthen our engagement with our donors, members and guests, and expand our reach on social media so that we all can enjoy this incredible institution for years to come.”
Tranzillo came to the Aquarium from the global not-for-profit Save the Children, where she worked for 17 years in a variety of capacities, including fund-raising and communications leadership positions. Most recently, she served as the associate vice president leading the organization’s three-year, $100 million capital campaign. Prior to that, she served as: senior director and head of global improvement; director of in-kind gifts; associate director for international programs process integration and implementation; and communications and planning manager for children in emergencies and crisis.
Before joining Save the Children in 2002, she held marketing positions with Fox News Channel and CNBC.
The Southbury resident also volunteers her time to other causes, notably leading the marketing and development efforts of The Iris Fund since its founding in 2017. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to help mothers and babies realize healthy, safe pregnancies and labors by understanding what causes labor and preterm birth.
Tranzillo earned an undergraduate degree from Fairfield University and her MBA from Western Connecticut State University.
Learn more about the Aquarium’s exhibits, programs and conservation efforts at www.maritimeaquarium.org.
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