Maritime Aquarium plans exhibit on marshes; Unitarians present a show; FCCF to retire

The Unitarian Church in Westport’s high school youth group

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk announcements for you:

  • Maritime Aquarium celebrates grant funding from Connecticut Humanities
  • Unitarians plan teen performances Sunday
  • Fairfield County’s Community Foundation announces CEO’s retirement


The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, home to more than 7,000 creatures, announced its receipt of two grants from nonprofit funding conduit Connecticut Humanities: $355,200 for operating support and $25,000 for planning.  The $355k will be applied to educational programs, audience-broadening interactive exhibits, and staff retention, while the $25K will go toward “Marshing Through Time,” a special display in the aquarium’s Long Island Sound watershed gallery explaining the the importance of Connecticut’s salt marshes.

In December, Connecticut Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, spread $16 million in government and private funds among 624 cultural nonprofits in the state.  In a news release, Connecticut Humanities Executive Director Jason R. Mancini said, “We are thrilled to welcome The Maritime Aquarium into our humanities family. Their work to connect the natural world with the human experience helps illuminate our relationship with the environment, to each other, and to some of the most pressing issues of our time. Providing greater access to diverse audiences is at the core of our operating support grant and I am confident that The Maritime Aquarium will deliver its best to our residents and visitors. We congratulate them on their awards.”

Aquarium president/CEO Jason Patlis said, “We thank Connecticut Humanities as we begin to implement these grants that will allow The Maritime Aquarium to expand the opportunities for interacting with our current audience and to engage with more communities.  We also are grateful for the staunch support of Governor Lamont, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff of Norwalk and the Connecticut General Assembly in making the operating support funds available and recognizing the vital role – and current struggles during the pandemic – of Connecticut’s arts and cultural organizations.

“This (planning) grant will allow The Maritime Aquarium to bring to life the history of Long Island Sound’s marshlands – how they have changed over time and how they have shaped the very culture and economy of Connecticut and the region through the centuries. Through multimedia storytelling and digital depictions of historical artifacts, ‘Marshing Through Time’ will give Aquarium guests an important understanding of the inextricable link between our natural world and our culture and history, while also challenging them to consider what steps we can take – individually and collectively – to restore our marshlands to a healthy ecosystem.”

Duff said, “I was there in 1988 when Gov. O’Neil opened The Maritime Aquarium and I have been in love with it ever since.  People come from all over Connecticut and the region to visit the aquarium and it really helps put Norwalk on the map. In addition, The Maritime Aquarium serves as an excellent steward of Long Island Sound and educates countless young people about the importance of protecting our environment. It is my pleasure to support The Maritime Aquarium so future generations can enjoy our wonderful local treasure.”


The Unitarian Church in Westport’s high school youth group. (Contributed)

‘Music and Laughter’


“Teen Takeover! An Afternoon of Music and Laughter” offering “gorgeous singing, classical piano, guitar, comedy and more” is planned for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday Mar. 27 at The Unitarian Church in Westport, located at 10 Lyons Plains Road,  according to a news release.   Doors will open at 1.  Proceeds will benefit the church youth group’s upcoming spring break trip, in which Youth Faith Formation Lead Nate Pawelek will accompany the high schoolers as they visit Alaska to view climate change’s effects on that state’s ecology.

The church’s news release says, “Since September, our youth have been participating in an intensive environmental initiative to become more mindful of how our everyday decisions profoundly affect the Earth.”

You can enjoy “Teen Takeover” at the church or view it online.  Tickets cost $25 and can be bought at the door or at www.voicescafe.org.

The church’s website is home 05192020b | The Unitarian Church in Westport (uuwestport.org)


James to retire

Juanita T. James. (Courtesy photo)

Philanthropy hub Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF) announces the retirement of its longstanding CEO Juanita T. James, who plans to exit the post in October.  During James’ 11-year tenure, FCCF granted over $200 million while fueling the growth of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, initiating Fairfield County’s Giving Day, establishing the Fund for Women and Girls economic security program at three community colleges, partnering with Data Haven to launch the Fairfield County Community Well Being Index, and supporting various organizations promoting educational and social equity.

“It has been an honor to work with and learn from committed and enthusiastic staff and colleagues over the years,” James said in an email announcing her departure.   “I am appreciative beyond measure to the grantee partners, community organizations and leaders, philanthropy colleagues, public officials and private business partners for enriching my efforts. They have been inspirational allies in upholding the Foundation’s mission and core values.

“I am grateful for the continued wise counsel and supportive leadership of my Board members,” she continued.  “These individuals give selfless service to the Foundation, including during challenging times. They have been partners with me and my talented staff in ensuring that the organizational mission always guided the Foundation’s philanthropy, programming, and leadership in the community. Finally, I am eternally thankful for my family for their love and support.”

In the same email, FCCF Board Chair Briggs Tobin said “The Board has formed a search committee and retained the executive search services of Phillips Oppenheim. We have a wonderful relationship with Phillips Oppenheim, which recruited Juanita’s predecessor, Susan Ross, and has followed FCCF’s activities during Juanita’s tenure. Given all that Juanita has accomplished over the last eleven years, she will be leaving an impressive legacy. We are confident that we will select the right successor to guide FCCF as it embarks on its next chapter. We look forward to announcing the new CEO when the time comes. In the meantime, Juanita is very much at the helm, leading the foundation and its myriad programs and activities. We will be back in touch with you in the fall when we celebrate Juanita’s 11 years of accomplishments and wish her well.”


Leave a Reply

Recent Comments