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Updated: June 13, 2023

Incoming head of Gulf of Maine Research Institute brings international expertise

person smiling standing outside building entryway Photo / Tim Greenway Glenn Prickett’s professional experience in the fields of environmental stewardship and sustainable economic development are expected to prepare him well as the new president and CEO of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland.

The new president and CEO of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland brings a wide range of leadership roles in NGOs, government, volunteer organizations and the private sector.

Glenn Prickett’s professional experience in the fields of environmental stewardship and sustainable economic development are expected to prepare him well for the new role. He most recently served as president and CEO of the World Environment Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. 

“As much as I’ve learned throughout my career and hope to apply those lessons in this new role, I’m even more excited to meet and learn from the region’s scientists, state officials and leaders in the fishing and aquaculture industries,” said Prickett. “The rest of the world has a lot to learn from the Gulf of Maine and the way the hardworking communities that surround it are tackling our biggest ocean challenges.”

Prickett will assume the role of CEO on Sept. 1, replacing former CEO Don Perkins, who announced the search for his successor along with his intention to retire last November after nearly 30 years in the leadership role.

The institute’s board of directors carried out an international search with support from executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

Prickett said he quickly became interested when the search firm contacted him about the position.

“It’s such an impressive organization, with such a great mission,” he told Mainebiz.

He and his wife already knew they loved Maine. 

“We’ve spent as much time in the Gulf of Maine as possible,” he said. 

Sustainable development

Born in Chicago, Prickett graduated from Yale University in 1988 with a degree in economics and political science and began his 35-year career as a policy advocate with the international program of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C.

Subsequently, he served in senior executive and management roles at the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and the U.S. Agency for International Development. 

At the Nature Conservancy, he led international and U.S. policy advocacy and established its Center for Sustainability Science for ecological research in collaboration with the private and public sectors. 

Most recently, Prickett, who will move to Maine with his family from Great Falls, Va., served as president and CEO of the World Environment Center, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advances sustainable development through corporate business practices across Europe, Latin America and North America. He led a regional network of organizations across Latin America to support small entrepreneurs in the blue and green economies, with a focus on women-owned businesses.

Working with communities

A common theme among his endeavors — sustainable development, climate change, natural resources — is a mission to work with communities through the wise stewardship of natural resources.

Projects in his previous positions ranged from accelerating small women-owned businesses in the developing world to working with global companies that want to improve their performance on sustainability.

Both tracks, he said, reflect growing marketplace interest in initiatives that support sustainable development of marine and terrestrial resources, also known as the blue and green economies.

“There’s a lot of interest from consumers and investors,” he said. “It’s a good time for entrepreneurs to be involved in businesses that depend on the conservation of natural resources.”

Prickett also served as board co-chair at the Keystone Policy Center and strategic planning chair at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, where he led significant strategic planning and change-management efforts.

He has led projects and campaigns focused on greenhouse gas mitigation in the energy, forestry and agriculture sectors, as well as corporate and private sector partnerships for climate resilience and adaptation. His portfolio includes work on fisheries policy, coastal flood insurance and natural infrastructure. 

In 2019, Prickett founded Rock Creek Strategies LLC, a strategic advisory firm that helps companies, investors and organizations incorporate the value of nature into economic development. 

Ocean ecosystem

His international conservation work, he noted, echoes the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s mission to support the ocean ecosystem and to study changes and apply lessons learned to community development and public policy.

“That’s what I did before,” he said. “And what excites me now, along with the cutting-edge science, is the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s involvement with local communities. That’s what I’ve done with communities elsewhere in the world.”

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s mission is to develop and deliver collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges. The marine research nonprofit collaborates with stakeholders to support healthy ocean ecosystems, a thriving blue economy, sustainable seafood and climate-resilient coastal communities.

Photo / Tim Greenway
Don Perkins, the outgoing president and CEO of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Under Perkins’ direction, the institute grew from an organization of two to a staff of nearly 100 research scientists, seafood supply chain and fisheries experts, climate change leaders and science educators, who have come from roles and relationships with NOAA, NASA, presidential administrations and multiple international climate, biodiversity and fisheries management bodies.

Among its contributions, the institute was the first to identify the Gulf of Maine as one of the fastest-warming ocean ecosystems on Earth. Its research has since attracted millions of dollars of federal, state and private investments in climate solutions from the local to the global scale. 

Those studies offer lessons to the world, Prickett said.

“I’m eager to focus in on one of the most interesting places in the world — the Gulf of Maine,” he said. “I think the world has a lot to learn.”

He added, “If anything, we feel a greater sense of urgency with climate change, which affects the fisheries and other Gulf of Maine resources.”

With poor air quality much on the minds of people across the Northeast last week, Prickett noted that, along with the challenges of climate change, there are also solutions within reach.

“That’s one reason I’m so excited to come to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Gulf of Maine in general,” he said. “The organization and the region are at the forefront of addressing challenges to climate change.”

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