Shelli Herman and Associates Retained by the Santa Barbara Zoo to Find New CEO

March 28, 2024 – Los Angeles-based Shelli Herman and Associates has been selected by the Santa Barbara Zoo to lead in its search for a new CEO. The CEO will be responsible for utilizing the zoo’s platform and the community’s trust to advocate for animal conservation and the protection of the planet. To succeed in this role, Shelli Herman and Associates explains that they will need to have an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to foster a collaborative and supportive working environment that is inclusive and accountable. Capable of seeing how organizations can work together to advance their respective missions, the CEO will help form mutually beneficial partnerships that provide the resources and space needed to grow the zoo’s conservation impact.

The search firm also notes that this executive must understand the relationship between the zoo’s revenue generation and its ability to support its conservation and education initiatives. This innovator will comprehensively review existing business strategies focusing on key performance indicators. One primary goal will be to enhance the current programs and identify new revenue streams consistent with the zoo’s mission and brand. Building on strong local and regional support, the CEO will focus on initiatives that increase attendance by targeting guests from far and wide.

The new CEO will work with an enthusiastic and devoted community to chart the course for the zoo’s next exciting chapter. To be successful, this executive should demonstrate strong leadership skills and implement a world-class strategy across the organization, according to Shelli Herman and Associates.

Providing the vision to build upon the zoo’s past success, the CEO’s priorities include continuing the commitment to animal exhibits that reflect the best in design, education, conservation practices, and welfare. They will also nurture a mission-centric culture by engaging and motivating the staff and modeling the zoo’s core values. Finally, the CEO will ensure the Zoo leads in science-based conservation initiatives that contribute to saving endangered species.

As the face of the organization and a public champion for the natural world, the CEO must exhibit exceptional integrity and maintain the highest standards of professional conduct.

Furthermore, the CEO must have extensive experience and achievements and possess the ability to lead a team of motivated and collaborative colleagues. Shelli Herman and Associates’ client seeks a dynamic, solution-oriented, innovative, and proactive leader with a proven track record of at least ten years of progressively responsible management experience, including executive-level experience overseeing multiple departments across the organization. The ideal candidate can come from various backgrounds, such as zoos, aquariums, conservation or environmental stewardship organizations, theme parks, sports teams, hospitality, or the entertainment industry.

Related: Shelli Herman and Associates Recruits CEO for the Dallas Zoo

In addition, candidates should have a strong advocate for diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, this leader should have a proven track record of taking impactful actions that create an inclusive environment and promote diversity among visitors, staff, and volunteers. The CEO should encourage community engagement and discussion around diversity and equity issues while being a sophisticated voice and thoughtful advocate around access and representation.

Shelli Herman and Associates Recruits New Leader for Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park
Shelli Herman and Associates has assisted in the recruitment of Sabarras George as director for the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park, a $230 million, 425-acre zoo expansion project that is scheduled to open to the public in 2027. He succeeded Jo-Elle Mogerman, who assumed the role of president and CEO of Philadelphia Zoo in October. “I believe that our staff, supporters and the community will really like Sabarras,” said Dwight Scott and Dana Brown, president and CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. “I’m confident that he will help grow our conservation efforts and successfully lead the development of WildCare Park that will open in 2027 with amazing guest experiences.” Mr. George has over 25 years of executive leadership and operations experience. For nearly six years, he has worked at the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). He most recently served as the vice president of operations and facilities and chief operating officer.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a non-profit organization that was established in 1961. It is home to more than 400 animals of over 100 species, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fishes, and invertebrates.

Serving Trailblazing Clients

Shelli Herman and Associates Inc. serves trailblazing clients across the corporate, non-profit, 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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