Non-profit conservation organisation, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, has a new chairperson.
Recently appointed Ann Lamont took over the reins from Maryke Musson, who moved abroad.
The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is the public benefit partner of the Two Oceans Aquarium and focuses on education, conservation and research work.
Ms Lamont grew up in Johannesburg. Both her parents were swimming coaches, and her mom earned an Olympic bronze medal for swimming.
“My earliest memories are of being in water and loving to swim. I used to go to the ocean in KwaZulu-Natal every holiday and loved the feel of water and waves and snorkelling. I spent hours in rock pools and collecting water from my fish pond to look at under my microscope.
“I am now an avid diver and ocean swimmer.”
After school, Ms Lamont studied law at the University of Witwatersrand and started her career in the world of business.
She has worked in many sectors, including investment banking, management consulting, entrepreneurship, and most recently, as the executive director of an operations consulting company.
Ms Lamont has also spent a significant part of her career working in the development sector, both in South Africa and other African countries.
She was also the executive director of the Learning Channel and co-founded Mindset Network, which uses multimedia technology to deliver educational content across Africa.
She then founded Convene, an organisation focused on multi-stakeholder collaboration to drive systemic change in the child and education sectors.
On leaving Convene, Ms Lamont worked as the interim executive director of Greenpeace Africa and served on the board for many years.
She was first introduced to the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation through her work and partnership with the V&A Waterfront.
She said the foundation’s greater goal is very close to her heart – the future health of the ocean, through conservation, education, research and partnerships.
“I have run international NGOs and founded numerous local educational and other not-for-profits. Through this I have built deep skills in multi-stakeholder partnerships to resolve challenging issues and raising the resources to do so.
“I have deep strategy experience and with my involvement with the Waterfront hope to create greater integration with the aquarium foundation, the Waterfront and its tenants.”
Ms Lamont said she loves spending time in the ocean, be it cold-water swimming, or scuba diving and, with gratitude, shares this space with its inhabitants every chance she gets.
“Anything blue is my cathedral. I might not have grown up near the ocean, but the ocean is certainly part of who I am. The beauty of the ocean and everything in it is so critical to our survival.”
She said she believes that partnerships between entities like the V&A Waterfront, its tenants and the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation are critical for the furthering of ocean education.
“What attracted me to the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation initially was the possibilities of future collaborations around ocean education.
“This is a very exciting time in which there is deep commitment to the ocean and, where after the setbacks of 2020, the responsibility to ’build back better’ is so prominent and vital. I have always taken the view that the line between public benefit organisations, NGOs and companies is shifting and changing as companies become more purpose-based.”
Ms Lamont wants to see the foundation growing into a world-class ocean campus to further ocean education, and to build this ocean knowledge into all other areas of the ocean economy.
She hopes the foundation will expand out of the Western Cape into the rest of the country. “I think that if we work collaboratively, and take an ecosystem approach and align with people with shared interests, we have the ability to significantly expand our work and the base that we are building from.”
One of the challenges with running the aquarium foundation is the fact that it is a fledgling NPO, she says, and therefore, funding is top of mind.
She said the community can easily become involved by supporting the programmes, including those focused on turtle rehabilitation programme and wildlife monitoring.
“The foundation’s online education programmes are also incredibly important for ocean education and ensuring that the ocean receives the protection it needs. The education programmes are open to various age groups and the community can also join these.”
Ms Lamont says on a practical level, people can play their part by keeping the environment clean, ensuring that they use less plastic, telling people about the plight of the ocean and telling people about the work that the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is doing.
For more information, visit aquariumfoundation.org.za