WCS President and CEO, Dr. Cristián Samper, Awarded Smithsonian’s Henry Medal

Bronx, New York, Oct. 16, 2012 – Dr. Cristián Samper, President and CEO of WCS, was awarded The Henry Medal by the Smithsonian Board of Regents on Sunday. The medal is presented to individuals in recognition of their distinguished service, achievements and contributions to the prestige and growth of the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. Samper joined WCS on August 1, 2012, as President and CEO after serving as the Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, since 2003. He also served as Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian from March 2007 until July 2008. 

As Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Dr. Samper ran a natural history collection with more than 126 million specimens and artifacts, attracting 7 million visitors a year. During his tenure at the Smithsonian, Dr. Samper: renovated the exhibitions; reinvigorated the research staff by hiring new curators to replace retiring staff; established an endowed fellowship program; built major new collections, storage facilities, and laboratories; and raised more than $300 million to support new long-term exhibitions and programs, including the Encyclopedia of Life and the Sant Ocean Hall. As Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 2007 and 2008, Dr. Samper oversaw museums in science, history, art and culture, as well as the National Zoo. He worked with the Board of Regents on comprehensive governance review and reform, secured funding from Congress to address the financial needs for facilities, and initiated the planning for the Institution’s first national fundraising campaign.

At WCS, Dr. Samper leads one of the world’s preeminent conservation organizations with field programs in 65 nations and in all the world’s oceans; and oversees the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo, which welcome more than 4 million visitors annually.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit www.wcs.org.

MARY DIXON: (1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org)
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org

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