Waitt Institute



La Jolla, CA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Assets: $548,095




Ted Waitt

Executive Director:

Kathryn Mengerink

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $5,461,658

Expenses: $4,899,459

Assets: $1,194,996

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The Waitt Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to advancing and supporting global ocean conservation and environmental efforts. Founded in 2005 by philanthropist and entrepreneur Ted Waitt, the institute works to protect and manage marine environments.


The Waitt Institute was founded by Ted Waitt, the co-founder of Gateway, Inc., a pioneering computer hardware company. By 30 years old, Waitt was in the Forbes 400 and a Fortune 500 CEO. Ted Waitt’s personal belief that ocean conservation is one of the biggest challenges the world faces led to the creation of the institute. Since its inception, the Waitt Institute has been involved in numerous projects and initiatives aimed at safeguarding marine ecosystems. 1

Waitt also founded the Waitt Foundation, a grantmaking foundation that has given more than $70 million to support ocean conservation efforts, mainly by creating “marine protected areas.” It is currently involved in initiatives that aim to turn 15 million square kilometers of ocean across 20 countries into protected areas. 2

Waitt Institute is based in La Jolla, California. 3


Scientific Research

The Waitt Institute conducts and funds scientific research to better understand marine ecosystems, biodiversity, and the impacts of human activities on the oceans. This research serves as a foundation for evidence-based conservation efforts. One of the scientific research projects it is undertaking is Marine Spatial Planning, which aims to balance marine resources using scientific findings. 4

Technology Innovation

In 2007, Ted Waitt established the Advanced Biophotonics Center, housed at Salk Institute for Biological Studies, with a $20 million grant. 5

Community Engagement

The Waitt Institute engages with local communities and governments to promote the sustainable management of marine resources. This often involves capacity-building initiatives, educational programs, and the development of sustainable fishing practices. As of 2023, Waitt Institute is involved with the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, Montserrat, and Tonga. 6

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

The institute advocates for and supports the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) worldwide. MPAs are critical for preserving biodiversity, restoring fish populations, and mitigating the effects of climate change on the oceans. 7


Blue Prosperity Coalition

The Waitt Institute is a key partner in the Blue Prosperity Coalition, which supports the design and implementation of sustainable ocean management plans for several nations and territories, including Montserrat and the Azores. 8

Mission Blue

This project, in collaboration with Hope Spots LLC and DOER Marine, focuses on exploring and documenting deep-sea ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. It utilizes advanced submersible support services to conduct deep-sea research. 9

Sustainable Fisheries

The institute has been involved in sustainable fishery efforts in various locations, including the Micronesia, the Maldives, and the Azores. By studying marine life in the area, the Waitt Institute contributes program plans to change the affects fisheries have on a given region. 10


In 2021, Waitt Institute had a revenue of $5,461,658, expenses of $4,899,459, and net assets of $207,293. 11


As of 2023, the executive director of the Waitt Institute was Kathryn Mengerink. She has a law degree and a Ph.D., with more than 20 years of expertise in the intersection between marine science and policy law. Previous to joining Waitt Institute, Mengerink was the founder and leader of the Environmental Law Institute’s Ocean Program, as well as a lecturer and advisor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 12

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson was the former executive director of Waitt Institute. During her tenure, she co-founded the Blue Halo Initiative and helped lead the first successful island-wide ocean zoning effort in the Caribbean. 13


  1. “Founder & Chairman.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  2. “Founder & Chairman.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  3. “Our Work.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  4. “Marine Spatial Planning.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  5. “Founder & Chairman.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  6. “Founder & Chairman.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  7. “Founder & Chairman.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  8. “Blue Prosperity Coalition.” Blue Prosperity. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  9. “Recent Projects.” DOER Marine. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  10. “Sustainable Fisheries.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  11. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Waitt Institute. 2021. Part I, lines 12, 26; Part II, 29.
  12. “About.” Waitt Institute. Accessed September 24, 2023.
  13. “Bio.” Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. Accessed September 24, 2023.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2006

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form PF $0 $0 $548,095 $340,802 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2019 Dec Form PF $0 $0 $1,743,817 $214,762 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2015 Dec Form PF $0 $0 $2,840,774 $312,580 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $0 $0 $4,308,005 $97,120 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $0 $0 $5,754,614 $68,650 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $0 $0 $4,118,910 $239,686 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $0 $0 $5,811,561 $58,228 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Waitt Institute

    PO BOX 559
    La Jolla, CA 57049-0559