He succeeds Dr. Kim Crosbie, who will step down on June 1, after 12 years with the association. IAATO thanked Crosbie for her outstanding contributions and wished her well with future endeavors.
Stanwell-Smith will lead the Secretariat and work with IAATO’s Executive Committee to ensure the association is adhering to its mission of safe, environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica.
Previously UK head of marine environment at the Danish international consultancy NIRAS and head of the marine program at the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC), Stanwell-Smith has a wealth of strategic leadership experience that IAATO said will benefit the organization as it continues to build on its legacy of sustainable tourism.
Terry Shaller, chair of IAATO’s Executive Committee, cited Stanwell-Smith's 'broad range of experience in commercial innovation, leadership and strategic planning that has involved a wide array of stakeholders and is set against a backdrop of environmental protection. Damon’s knowledge and skills will mesh very well with IAATO’s diverse group of committed operators,' he added.
Stanwell-Smith began his career as a marine biologist and he earned a PhD with the British Antarctic Survey. Before heading programs at UNEP-WCMC, he was a project manager and consultant for several multinational organizations and commercial operators, including expedition leading in polar tourism. He also has extensive practical experience as a commercial diver and contractor with an emphasis on monitoring and research.
'One of the great motivators throughout my career has been to find ways of balancing commercial interests with environmental protection, which I am convinced is best served by giving people the chance to experience the majesty of wild places in a carefully managed way,' Stanwell-Smith said.
'Leading IAATO is an exciting opportunity and I look forward to drawing upon my experience to work with IAATO members and the Antarctic community to deliver safe, sustainable tourism that supports the long-term conservation of this unique, incredible place.'
Stanwell-Smith will be based in Cambridge, UK.