When the chain link fence came down around an old coal dock with West Bay frontage in 2016, our region’s maritime heritage shifted. Discovery Center is home to a number of water-related nonprofits, a new co-working site, and the largest tall ship harbor on the American side of the Great Lakes. The initiative has now found its first CEO in Matt McDonough.
Nonprofit organizations devoted to exploring and preserving the Grand Traverse Bay watershed come together at Discovery Center, including The Watershed Center, Inland Seas Education Association, Great Lakes Children’s Museum, Maritime Heritage Alliance and Traverse Area Community Sailing. In addition, the Traverse Tall Ship Company runs sailing charters throughout the three seasons. Discovery Pier brings their offerings to the next level with expanded access to the Bay. The tall ships and tugboats that support their work dock at the Pier, where the community gathers to learn and play.
Many exciting developments are underway at Discovery Center, including a universally accessible boat launch, enhancements for shore-based fishing, and expanded docking space for tall ships and other deep water vessels. With Matt’s leadership, Discovery Center is poised to become the public access point for recreation, education, maritime history and stewardship on Grand Traverse Bay. He brings both a passion for preserving our natural resources for the public and a knack for building partnerships.
Matt came to our region in 2000 to work for Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, where he served the Land Protection program for 16 years. As a senior level director at the Conservancy, Matt grew the Land Protection program through years of relationship building, collaboration and project management. Most recently Matt worked for the Munson Healthcare Foundation.
According to Discovery Center ~ Great Lake Board Chair, Bob Stow, “We are pleased to add Matt to the Discovery Center organization. He stood out through the process as someone who has the ability and experience to take the Discovery Center to the next level. We are excited about what his leadership will make possible for the project and our community.”
Originally from southwestern Michigan, Matt has called Traverse City his home for over 19 years. He has a B.S. in Resource Development with an emphasis in Water Resources from Michigan State University. Prior to a 17-year career in land conservation, Matt worked in the fields of fisheries and water rights in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Montana, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon. He lives in Traverse City with his wife, Ann, and their son and daughter.