ATLANTA (December 17, 2014) Georgia Aquarium announced today that Mark Schafer is the organization’s new executive vice president and chief operating officer, effective immediately. Schafer has served as chief financial officer and senior vice president at the Aquarium since July 2013. He replaces David Kimmel as COO, who stepped down in October.

“Mark will help lead Georgia Aquarium into the next era. He has an impressive track record as a leader of internationally recognized family entertainment and environmental conservation organizations, with a recognized ability to set strategy and fiscal responsibility, lead large teams, and drive growth and innovation at a great scale,” says Mike Leven, Georgia Aquarium’s chairman and CEO. “Mark is uniquely qualified to take Georgia Aquarium to new levels. I’m confident that under his leadership, we will continue to expand our local and environmental impact, inspire our guests, and continue to lead and influence the zoological and hospitality communities.”

Schafer brings 26 years of prior hospitality and theme park experience to his current role.  Previously, Schafer spent 16 years at Walt Disney World in Orlando, where he was a Director of Finance. His responsibilities at Disney over the years included financial leadership for resorts, food & beverage, human resources and information technology. He began his career at SeaWorld Orlando where he was Director of Finance and over a 10 year period he led the accounting, gate admissions and treasury departments. 

“It is a great privilege and honor to be asked to lead this great organization into the future to grow Bernie and Billi Marcus' gift to Georgia and the world,” said Schafer. “We are steadfastly committed to educating and inspiring our guests through our care, protection and conservation of marine mammals and other aquatic species. We remain dedicated to global leadership in research and conservation programs mirroring the unique and amazing animals within our facilities. I look forward to leading this talented and dedicated team as we continue to positively engage guests with our aquatic world inspiring current and future generations with a sense of wonder and respect.”

Additional resources:

Mark Schafer Biography

Hi-resolution photo



Georgia Aquarium, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that encompasses Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, and Marineland Dolphin Adventure and Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station in Marineland, Fla.  The mission of Georgia Aquarium, Inc. is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific organization featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, and offering engaging and exciting guest experiences that promote the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. For additional information, visit or