JAMESTOWN – The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History says it has hired Arthur Pearson to serve as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer.
A Chicago native, Pearson has a richly varied background in the arts, conservation, museum collections and philanthropy. He spent twenty-five years with the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, most recently as its Director of Chicago Program. In this role, he worked hand in glove with a portfolio of more than two hundred nonprofit groups, with an emphasis on building their operational and financial capacities to meet mission goals.
Among Pearson’s recent accomplishments, he orchestrated a $7 million public-private funding effort to accelerate restoration of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, one of the country’s most ambitious habitat recovery efforts. He sparked the development of a $15 million artist live-work space in Chicago’s Pullman National Monument. And he guided a multi-pronged initiative to help the entire small arts sector of Chicago increase its financial sustainably.
Additionally, he has written about a range of conservation issues and is the author of Force of Nature, an award-winning biography of George Fell, Founder of The Nature Conservancy and the Natural Areas Movement. A master stained glass craftsman, his original, nature-based designs have been featured in exhibitions at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and in City Creatures, published by the Center for Humans and Nature.
“Arthur comes on board at a challenging time,” says Doug Schutte, Board Chair of the Institute. “But his skills, passion and experience make him the right person to be leading us now and into the future.”
Pearson plans to build on the accomplishments of Twan Leenders, who has led the Institute over the past several years. Leenders, as the Institute’s new Senior Director of Science and Conservation, will focus his expertise on expanding the Institute’s conservation research and monitoring efforts. Pearson’s goal is to balance, integrate and unify these efforts with the Institute’s commitment to art and education.
“First and foremost,” Pearson says, “Roger Tory Peterson was an artist. He channeled his passion for nature into his art. And through his art, he lifted a veil, helping millions of people across the globe to see the natural world around them as never before. That was his genius, his legacy. That is our charge today – to nurture the next generation of artists-educators-