Shelli Herman and Associates Recruits CEO for the Dallas Zoo

November 30, 2023 – Following a comprehensive national search for a new leader for the organization, Los Angeles-based Shelli Herman and Associates has placed Lisa New as the new CEO of the Dallas Zoo. She will be the Zoo’s first female CEO in its 135-year history. Ms. New succeeds someone she often has recognized as one of her mentors, Gregg Hudson, following his almost 17 years of leadership at the helm of the Dallas Zoo. “Our search committee felt we had an enormous task in front of us back in May when we began a national search for the Dallas Zoo’s next leader,” said Dawn Moore, chair of the Dallas Zoo board of directors. “Lisa quickly rose to the top of our list given her impressive career accomplishments that represent everything we were seeking in our new CEO. We found ourselves with the opportunity to bring in a well-respected and recognized leader with the ideal mix of skills to propel our Dallas Zoo to the next level, and we jumped at the chance. We can’t wait to see what Lisa and our talented Dallas Zoo team will achieve.”

Ms. New joins the Dallas Zoo after serving 10 years as the president and CEO of Zoo Knoxville. She began at an entry-level position on the zoo’s Conservation Science team, through the animal care and welfare ranks, into leadership roles, and eventually to leading Zoo Knoxville as its president and CEO for the past decade. Under Ms. New’s leadership, the team at Zoo Knoxville executed a bold strategic plan that included a comprehensive campus master plan, a marketing and rebranding effort, a $39 million capital campaign, and some of the most ambitious construction projects in the zoo’s history.

“Lisa has been a visionary leader who changed the trajectory for Zoo Knoxville,” said Russ Watkins, incoming chair of the Zoo Knoxville board of directors. “Over the last 10 years, she has successfully executed an ambitious plan that transformed our zoo. From the time she took the helm in 2013, our attendance has increased by 52 percent and our revenue has grown by 105 percent. She has laid a foundation that will ensure we continue to thrive, and she should be very proud of her legacy here in Knoxville.”

Related: Shelli Herman and Associates Seeks Director for Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park

“Lisa New has been an amazing leader for Zoo Knoxville, helping us become a national leader in conservation and education, not to mention one of biggest attractions in our community,” said City of Knoxville mayor Indya Kincannon. “I wish Lisa well as she moves on to a new city and thank her for the legacy she’s leaving behind.”

Shelli Herman and Associates Recruits CEO for Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium
Shelli Herman and Associates has assisted in the recruitment of Luis Padilla as the president and chief executive officer of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “Our challenge was to find someone who could build on the legacy of Dennis Pate,” said Mogens Bay, chair of the board of directors, Omaha Zoological Society. “We are confident that Dr. Padilla is that person. He was chosen after an extensive and thorough process by the search committee and is the next right leader for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Dr. Padilla is a mission-driven leader who values collaboration, innovation, staff development, resiliency, and wildlife conservation. His background as a veterinarian ensures that the highest quality of care for Omaha’s animals and their habitats will remain a top priority and commitment.”

Founded in 1888, the 106-acre the Dallas Zoo is the largest zoological experience in Texas. It has been accredited continuously by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums since 1985, and is consistently voted one of the top 10 zoos in the nation by USA Today. The Dallas Zoo welcomes more than one million guests each year to see and learn about its 2,000-plus animals and award-winning naturalistic habitats.

Proven Recruiters

Shelli Herman and Associates, Inc. serves trailblazing clients across the corporate, nonprofit, and higher education sectors. The firm’s long roster of clients includes the Annenberg Foundation; the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation; BENlabs; The Capital Group Companies/American Funds Distributors; City Year, Los Angeles; the Fresno Chaffee Zoo; the Griffith Observatory Foundation; Jewish Family Service LA; Laguna College of Art and Design; Loyola Marymount University; Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium; P.S. ARTS; the Saint Louis Zoo; Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County; the University of California System; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and YWCA Greater Los Angeles.

Shelli Herman, who has more than 25 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 nonprofit, conservation, and cultural organizations. Additionally, she brings an in-depth understanding of the unique cultural environment of academia that was gained while she held significant management positions at the University of Florida and Loyola Marymount University.

Related: Shelli Herman and Associates Recruits New Leader for the St. Louis Zoo

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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