Shelli Herman and Associates Recruits CEO for Fresno Chaffee Zoo

December 3, 2020 – Los Angeles-based Shelli Herman and Associates has assisted in the placement of Jon Forrest Dohlin as the new chief executive officer of Fresno Chaffee Zoo. He becomes the organization’s eighth leader and will succeed retiring CEO Scott Barton with the transition expected to take place in early 2021. The assignment was led Shelli Herman, president, and founder of the recruitment firm.

“We are thrilled to announce that Jon Dohlin has accepted our offer to join Fresno Chaffee Zoo as its next CEO,” said Kyle Kirkland, Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo Corp. board chair. “Jon brings extensive experience in project and animal management and a strong commitment to conservation, education and delivering a world-class guest experience. We could not be more excited to have Jon in the Fresno Chaffee Zoo family.”

“We’re pleased that Jon has agreed to join the Fresno Chaffee Zoo team, and I believe that the zoo’s ability to recruit talent of his stature speaks to its importance to the people of Fresno as well as the international zoo and aquarium community,” said Fresno mayor Lee Brand. “The zoo’s position as a leading educational and cultural institution will be enhanced through Jon’s leadership and we look forward to welcoming him to our great city.”

Mr. Dohlin currently serves as the director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, a position he has held for the past 12 years. In his 20 years with the Wildlife Conservation Society, he was also involved in project design and management with the Bronx Zoo. The New York Aquarium is Brooklyn’s largest cultural institution. As director, Mr. Dohlin managed an annual budget of $18.5 million and over 300 staff members, directed a $150 million restoration of the aquarium after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and oversaw the design, construction and fund-raising for the award-winning $160 million shark exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

In his new position, Mr. Dohlin will oversee all functions of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, including the over 220 species of animals and the zoo’s exhibits, such as Sea Lion Cove, Stingray Bay and African Adventure. He will also continue the progress on Kingdoms of Asia, which broke ground in September. This $38 million project includes habitats for tigers, orangutans and sloth bears and is expected to open in the fall of 2021.

“I am privileged and excited to join the Fresno Chaffee Zoo team and continue to build on the great work they’ve done to create an outstanding zoo experience for the Fresno and Central Valley communities,” said Mr. Dohlin. “Fresno County residents’ commitment to the zoo through Measure Z creates a powerful partnership, which I am honored to steward into our shared future. Fresno Chaffee Zoo is highly respected within the national and international zoo communities for its award-winning exhibits, commitment to conservation and talented and engaged staff, all of which drew me here from New York,” he said. “I look forward to continuing the zoo’s mission by focusing on conservation, education, world class animal care, community engagement and WOW exhibits.”

Respected Recruiters

With roots dating back to 1907, what would become Fresno Chaffee Zoo opened as the Roeding Park Zoo in 1929. The 39-acre zoo is home to 1,123 animals representing 220 distinct species. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has been privately managed since 2006, when Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo Corp. took over from the City of Fresno. Overall, the zoo’s annual operating budget has been increasing each year, while simultaneously building financial reserves in excess of $10 million. The 2019 budget was $16.9 million and 2020 is $17.7 million. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

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

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; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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