Home Museum institution The Seymour Center welcomes a new General Manager

The Seymour Center welcomes a new General Manager


After extensive research, UC Santa Cruz Seymour Marine Discovery Center selected Jonathan Andres Hicken to be its new Executive Director. Hicken will fill a post left vacant by founding executive director Julie Barrett Heffington, who retired last year after 21 years of service.

The campus conducted a nationwide search with the help of an external research firm, but found the new director in its own backyard. Hicken has lived in Santa Cruz with his family for over a decade, and his enthusiasm for the local community and his new role at the helm of one of its most unique spaces is palpable.

“What excites me about the Seymour Center is that it is an institution which is already well loved and which enjoys enormous support in the community, but which also has enormous potential to develop further. exciting way and with new dynamism, ”said Hicken. “I can’t think of a better situation to walk into.”

Hicken began his career as a university researcher studying undocumented migration from Mexico to the United States. His work led to four published papers and a presentation to a Congressional committee in Washington, DC

In 2011, Hicken pivoted to work for a tech startup, where he helped create and lead two teams of nearly 50 people and was responsible for $ 20 million in sales. His background in building teams, building strong business models, and understanding client needs to provide better service led him to his next role as Director of Development and Partnerships for the History Museum. of the art of Santa Cruz (MAH).

From 2016 to 2019, Hicken led MAH’s fundraising, marketing and customer service departments during a period of explosive growth by increasing the number of memberships and donations and helping to create a new outdoor space. popular for visitors to attract them to the museum. He is excited to bring an equally positive community experience to the Seymour Center to help it fulfill its mission of generating enthusiasm among community members of all ages for marine science and ocean conservation.

“Our mission at the Seymour Center is to quench the public’s thirst for ocean knowledge and to develop a community passionate about ocean conservation,” said Paul Koch, dean of physical and biological sciences, who oversees the Seymour Center. . “In Jonathan, we have found a director who can build on our strengths, but also lead us in exciting new directions with an even greater focus on community.”

One of the goals of the Seymour Center is to expand its offering to reach new audiences, while continuing to build on its strengths in teaching from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Hicken was chosen for this role in part because of his years of experience developing groups and institutions.

Hicken is also an accomplished fundraiser and, since 2019, has worked to raise millions for the environment, outdoor recreation and homelessness in the community of Santa Cruz through Housing Matters and his own. company, Giving Studio. He attributes his success to his ability to build strong community partnerships.

Gary Griggs, a distinguished professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, attended Hicken’s job talk and believes he has many unique strengths that will benefit the Seymour Center and UC Santa Cruz campus. . “I believe Jonathan Hicken’s imagination, enthusiasm, communication skills and fundraising and business experience make him an excellent choice to lead the Seymour Center into the future,” says Griggs . “He will bring new energy, creativity and leadership to this much-loved center. ”

The Seymour Center is currently in the process of refreshing its exhibits and visitor experience. Hicken will be tasked with guiding the Seymour Center through the next stage of its development and strategic planning as it prepares to reopen at the end of the summer, and he can’t wait to get started.

“What I want people to know the most about me is that if they have a curiosity or a passion for the Seymour Center, I want to talk to them,” Hicken says. “I take a very deliberate approach to coming in and listening. My main message to everyone is that I want you to be a part of it. I can’t wait to see what we can build together.