Wolcott Henry, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation

TITLE: President and Chair

FUNDING AREAS: Marine fisheries and wildlife conservation

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: A marine conservationist who is a notable photographer, Henry looks at both the positive and negative sides of human behavior and marine life.

PROFILE: Just as John James Audubon and Ansel Adams did before him, Wolcott Henry came to his career of conservation and environmental protection in part through his love of the arts. Henry now serves as president and chair of The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, which supports marine conservation projects, but he is also an accomplished conservation photographer, specializing in underwater photography.

These twin passions have served him well. Henry heavily promotes "conservation photography" and uses high quality photographic images to illustrate both the natural wonders of the world and the environmental danger they face. Since the foundation emphasizes fisheries and coral reef conservation in their grant making, this skill has surely come in handy.

The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation began making grants in 1987, and Henry has been around for all of it; he was actually the foundation's first employee when it opened its doors. It was a good fit. Henry, a diver since he was a small child, was worried about the state of the ocean. Fisheries were going under, there was little or no resource management, and no one was addressing the important issues. When he started, there were very few marine conservation groups. Now there are many.

Here's Henry's full bio on The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation website:

"Wolcott Henry, of Washington, DC and Florida, is president and chair of The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation and The Henry Foundation, both of which support marine conservation projects with an emphasis on fisheries and coral reefs. From 1989 to 1993, he published Conservation Digest, a newsletter for environmental grantmakers. Prior to joining the Munson Foundation, he worked for two management consulting firms in Chicago. He received his B.A. from Denison University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University.

In the non-profit field, Mr. Henry serves as a director on the boards of the chair of Earth Echo International (formerly as chair), World Wildlife Fund-Philippines, and The Ocean Foundation (of which he is the founding chair). His prior board service includes the International League of Conservation Fund, World Wildlife Fund—US, FotoWeek DC, the Divers Alert Network (DAN), and the Ocean Conservancy. He serves on the advisory boards of the Smithsonian Ocean Science Initiative and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, and on the national council of World Wildlife Fund-US.

Mr. Henry is also an accomplished underwater photographer, collaborating with Dr. Sylvia Earle on two children's books published by the National Geographic Society, titled Hello Fish and Sea Critters. In 1999, he co-authored a large format book with Dr. Earle on our national marine sanctuary system called Wild Ocean, also published by the National Geographic Society. In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

Because of his interest in both conservation and photography, Mr. Henry has worked hard to promote the concept of "conservation photography," using high quality images to illustrate environmental problems as well as natural wonders. He helped found www.marinephotobank.org to provide such marine images to the nonprofit community for use in public outreach and education projects."

The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation has been investing in solutions to problems with marine ecosystems, and in the process, it has had a huge hand in educating funders and creating effective strategies for grantees to use to make a difference.  Grantees are said to get a lot more than just money from the foundation, because of its deep knowledge of the industry. The goal of their grant making is to increase public interest in preserving and protecting oceans and marine life.

The main focus for Henry's grant making is in South Florida and Alabama, although the foundation also supports some specially selected organizations who operate in the Washington, D.C. area and affect policy. It grants approximately $1.4 million every year, with the average grant being between $15,000 and $25,000 and topping out at about $50,000. It does not accept unsolicited grant proposals; instead, they require a letter of inquiry no more than two pages long. It has other, very specific guidelines for grants, which can be found on the website.


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