AMHERST — The Hitchcock Center for the Environment announced William “Billy” Spitzer as its new executive director. He brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience in the areas of science education, climate communication, and network building along with a vast network of national and international connections. Spitzer will be influential in the continued growth and impact that the center has seen in recent years as it continues on its mission to educate and inspire action for a healthy planet.
Spitzer comes to the center as the former vice president for Learning and Community at the New England Aquarium, where he was responsible for applying learning and social-science research across education programs, exhibits, visitor experience, and community outreach for more than 20 years. Working with organizations such as the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network, and North American Assoc. for Environmental Education, he has been involved in many successful collaborative projects with a focus on environmental education and awareness along with the promotion of public engagement in climate change.
In 2014, Spitzer was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for Engaging the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders. In 2016, he received a Visionary Award from the Gulf of Maine Council for innovation, creativity, and commitment to marine protection. He holds a Ph.D. in oceanography from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The Hitchcock Center worked with search consultant Cathy Cohen of TSNE MissionWorks to review more than 70 applicants for the position. After an extensive search, which saw a wide variety of candidates vetted and interviewed, the board of directors enthusiastically chose Spitzer as the best-qualified to lead the center into the future.
Board President Clay Ballantine called Spitzer “an exceptionally skilled and accomplished professional who comes to the center at the perfect time. [He] is smart, approachable, thoughtful, has high emotional intelligence, and a track record of success — a perfect fit as the center continues to forge an unwavering path forward to be a leader addressing the challenges of climate change head on and ensuring a world where people, communities, and ecosystems thrive.”