Shelli Herman and Associates Fills Critical Role for the San Diego Zoo

September 3, 2019 – Los Angeles-based Shelli Herman and Associates has placed David Wu as chief development and membership officer of San Diego Zoo Global and president of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global. Shelli Herman, president of the recruitment firm, led the assignment along with her associate, Krista Haley.

“David was the absolutely right candidate for the job because of his vast experience in advancement at both a large R1 university and at a world-class zoological enterprise,” said Ms. Herman. “He has been an innovator and disruptor for most of his career and continues to lead the way as a thought leader around eradicating wildlife extinction. David is the exact right person to continue to advance the mission of the San Diego Zoo Global’s Foundation while building an international donor base that will ultimately raise over $100 million annually.”

“I’m very excited to have someone with David’s impressive record of philanthropic achievements added to our team,” said Douglas G. Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “I am confident that he will continue to raise the bar for us and contribute in ways that have yet to be defined.”

Mr. Wu, who begins his tenure next month, is tasked with leading the conservation organization’s membership and fundraising efforts. He will work to help the non-profit grow its donor base to reflect its increasing worldwide conservation footprint, and secure the resources necessary to continue its fight to end wildlife extinction.

Until recently, Mr. Wu served as chief advancement officer at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, where he helped craft a new mission, and innovative strategic operation plans for the organization, while at the same time leading eight departments to deliver a unified branding and development effort. He also provided leadership to PATH, an organization dedicated to health equity through the University of Washington; Seattle University; the University of California, Los Angeles; and Bowling Green State University.


Inside the Search

“My firm is incredibly excited to be partner with San Diego Zoo Global. As the largest organization of its kind in the world, the organization has long been known for their creativity and discovery of new solutions as they lead the fight against wildlife extinction. Under the leadership of departing president, Mark Stuart, the San Diego Zoo Global has already built a strong advancement program that takes novel approaches to generating revenue and exposure through the addition of enterprising ventures to philanthropic support. Philanthropy at SDZG continues to mature and they have been especially successful in securing principal gifts over the past few years, including a number of seven and eight figure commitments.”

“The organization completed their 100th Anniversary Campaign in December of 2018. Roaring Forward successfully raised just over $530 million, far exceeding the original campaign goal of $400 million. This is an incomparable chance for an accomplished and high-achieving leader to further build an already thriving and cutting-edge advancement program as the larger organization continues to define itself as the leader in the fight against extinction.”


“I have dedicated my career to zoos and their mission of saving wildlife and wild places,” said Mr. Wu. “I hold a strong personal passion to help reduce inequity in the world. It’s imperative that zoos act as a voice for animals, and their connection to the millions of people around the world who must take action now to save them.”

Long-Time Client

The zoo has been a client of Ms. Herman’s for 10 years. “That has allowed for us to have a deep understanding of culture and what works for this particular client in terms of talent,” she said. “The search only took three months because we worked in a very collaborative manner with our client.”

San Diego Zoo is a leading international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to the science of saving species worldwide. It operates two world-class facilities: the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Its San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is the largest zoo-based research effort in the world.

Shelli Herman and Associates has a long roster of clients, including Otis College of Art and Design, Catalina Island Conservancy, the Annenberg Foundation, Pacific Northwest College of Art, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and University of California, Los Angeles.

Ms. Herman, who has 20 years of executive recruitment experience, has a strong record of leading searches and building upper management teams for a diverse clientele, including Fortune 500 companies. She has completed senior-level assignments in many industries, including consumer products, healthcare, high technology and finance, as well as for non-profit and cultural organizations.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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