Chattanooga, Tenn. (January 14, 2020) – When Cindy Todd first arrived in Chattanooga in 1986 to help establish the not-yet-opened Hamilton Place Mall, the heart of downtown looked very different than it does today. After serving as the director of marketing for what was Tennessee’s largest shopping mall, she was lured away to help launch another landmark project.
In September of 1991, she joined a team that was preparing to open the world’s largest freshwater aquarium as the advertising, sponsorship and promotions manager. More than 28 years since that first day on the job, she has been part of a team that has contributed immensely to Chattanooga’s economic, environmental and educational well-being.
“I feel extremely proud to have been part of a nonprofit organization that has had such an amazing overall impact on the community,” says Todd, the Aquarium’s chief marketing and communications officer. “Having been part of the initial start-up team, I have been absolutely amazed at the powerful difference the Tennessee Aquarium has made not just to the tourism industry and economy in the city, but also for its contributions to education and conservation science.”
To have such an extensive career path at one organization is remarkable in today’s world according to Tennessee Aquarium president and CEO Keith Sanford. “We’re grateful to have so many passionate and dedicated people as part of the Aquarium’s family for a long portion of their careers,” Sanford says. “That kind of commitment, like Cindy’s, not only benefits our organization, it also spreads into the community. And I’m appreciative of her service over the years.”
Cindy tells friends that she thrives on change. And while the Aquarium is a cultural icon that is continually opening new exhibits to attract visitors to Chattanooga and expanding the scope of conservation and education programs in the region, she’s felt a calling to embark upon a new career path.
Beginning in March, she will pursue consulting opportunities with leaders of other nonprofit, visitor-serving attractions across the country. “While we will miss having Cindy as part of our team, I know she is excited about helping other nonprofit zoos, aquariums, and museums become more successful in achieving their missions,” Sanford says. “Undoubtedly she will do just that.”
Todd is eager to begin tackling new challenges. “There have been so many events that have brought joy to me during my tenure at the Aquarium. But among the many things I’ve loved the most as a part of this amazing team is the thrill of watching guests connecting with each other while enjoying our exhibits. I know the Aquarium will continue to have a big impact on this community.”
The Aquarium will hold a celebration of Todd’s accomplishments on February 13. Her last day on the job will be February 14.
Thom Benson will then begin serving as the interim chief communications and marketing officer.