October 7, 2021 – Los Angeles-based Shelli Herman and Associates has placed Dwight Scott as the next Dana Brown president and CEO of the St. Louis Zoo. He succeeds Jeffrey P. Bonner, who will retire from that position at the end of the year after leading the organization for nearly two decades. Shelli Herman, president of the recruitment firm, led the assignment along with her associate, Krista Haley. “We conducted an extremely thorough international search to find the next great leader for the St. Louis Zoo,” said Cynthia J. Brinkley, chair, St. Louis Zoological Park subdistrict commission.
Last fall, a search committee comprised of St. Louis Zoological Park subdistrict commissioners, members of the St. Louis Zoo Association board of director and St. Louis community leaders was formed to select the next president and CEO. Winthrop B. Reed, immediate past chair, St. Louis Zoological Park subdistrict commission, led the search committee. The search committee also was supported by a committee of former St. Louis Zoo Association presidents and St. Louis Zoological Park subdistrict commission chairpersons.
Together, the search firm and the committee received and reviewed applications over the spring and conducted preliminary interviews during the summer months. The search committee narrowed the list of candidates down to a group of finalists, and the search committee, former St. Louis Zoo Association presidents, former St. Louis Zoological Park subdistrict commission chairpersons, and the zoo’s strategic operations team met with the finalists in September.
“Dwight Scott rose to the very top of our list,” said Ms. Brinkley. “Not only does he bring nearly 30 years of zoo experience to his new role, but he also brings his determined and contagious passion for wildlife conservation and believes that diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion programs are critical to organizational and community development.”
Mr. Scott has been the executive director of San Diego Zoo since late 2013. In that role, he has been responsible for all aspects of operating the San Diego Zoo. He has overseen the daily operations of all departments related to the 100-acre facility, including admissions, transportation, education, food service, retail, facilities, wildlife care, horticulture and special events.
Mr. Scott started his zoo career in 1994 as an animal keeper at Kansas City Zoological Gardens. He then became part of the animal management team that helped build and create Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After his time at Disney, he went to Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden, where he went from assistant curator of mammals to curator of mammals to director of animal management. Mr. Scott then went to Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum where he was assistant director. He then went back to Oklahoma to become their executive director and CEO.
St. Louis Zoo traces its origin to the 1904 World’s Fair, hosted in St. Louis. Guided by the mission nearly unchanged since its founding, the organization has received global recognition for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research, and education. For 2021, expenses are projected to be $72.7 million, and the zoo anticipates revenue of $76.9 million.
Shelli Herman and Associates Recruits CEO for Fresno Chaffee Zoo
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. “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.”
A sampling of Ms. Herman’s personal client roster includes AICAD: the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design; the Annenberg Foundation; the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation; California Institute of the Arts; The Capital Group Companies, Inc.; City Year Los Angeles; Loyola Marymount University; Maryland Institute College of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park); the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Irvine; and The Whitney Museum of American Art.
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