Pacific Marine Mammal Center taps retired bank CEO for top job

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Glenn Gray started as CEO of Pacific Marine Mammal Center on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of PMMC

Pacific Marine Mammal Center recently tapped a former banking executive as its next chief executive.

Glenn Gray was slated to take the helm of the storied nonprofit Tuesday. Prior to retiring in 2020, Gray was CEO of CalWest Bank, an Irvine-based commercial bank that had $225 million before it was sold to the Bank of Southern California. Gray is also board chair of the Laguna Playhouse.

“Glenn is recognized for his decades of experience and success leading large teams and organizations,” PMMC Board Chair Jeff Meberg said in a press release. “We feel he is exactly the right person to lead us into our next chapter.”

Gray succeeds Peter Chang who announced he would step in March after four years with the 50-year-old nonprofit. Under his tenure, Chang has manned the Laguna Beach organization’s helm during a pandemic that has shaken the nonprofit sector nationally as fundraising events were either canceled or shifted online.

As a scuba diver, Gray has seen humans’ damage to the ocean first-hand through rising water temperatures, bleached-out coral reefs, single-use plastic pollution, and abandoned fishing lines that entangle marine animals.

“Marine mammals are the modern-day canary-in-the-coal-mine. Sadly, through their diseases, malnutrition, and injuries they are telling us our oceans need our help. If we do not take care of what covers 70% of our planet, the other 30% is in grave danger. Through its rescue and rehabilitation efforts and its research and education initiatives PMMC is not only treating symptoms but also addressing causes,” Gray said in a press release.

Gray brings more than 40 years of experience in commercial lending and specialty finance, within banks and non-bank lenders. From 2005 to 2012, Gray was the Chief Executive Officer of Sunwest Bank, a commercial bank doing business in California and Arizona.

Gray’s other philanthropic works include serving as a board member of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen/Orange County. Gray and his wife Kathryn have lived in Laguna Beach since 2000.

Among the PMMC’s recent accomplishments is the launch of a $7.5 million capital campaign, the largest fundraising effort in its history, to build an onsite water reclamation system, a state-of-the-art patient treatment center, three new animal rehabilitation pools, and expanding educational facilities.

The Center has raised about $6.1 million of that goal so far, according to a press release.
Residents and commuters may have noticed an array of staking poles directly south of the Laguna Canyon facility. These generally show the outline of the planned building.

The project is slated to go before the Design Review Board in the coming months..

“I am very grateful for this opportunity to lead the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and to join the remarkable staff and countless volunteers whose work and efforts are changing the landscape of ocean stewardship and marine mammal conservation,” Gray said.

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