August 2, 2023 – Los Angeles-based Shelli Herman and Associates has been selected to find the next chief executive officer for the Dallas Zoo. “In this moment of great potential, the Dallas Zoo seeks a CEO to lead the organization into its next chapter,” said the search firm. “The CEO will provide the vision and strategy to guide the zoo as it builds upon past success, providing leadership that will further enhance the overall visitor experience, exhibit design, animal care, education, wildlife conservation and research, and community engagement.”
Under the direction of the board of directors of the Dallas Zoological Society and working closely with the executive team and key stakeholders, the CEO will be expected to implement the organizational vision to further the zoo’s mission through programs and outreach, and to ensure the organization is financially secure and able to serve all citizens of Dallas and North Texas, said Shelli Herman and Associates.
Priorities of the role will revolve around organizational culture and leadership, conservation and education, sustainable funding and community impact, animal welfare and husbandry, guest experience, and organizational excellence. It will be essential that the new leader nurture a mission-driven culture that supports staff excellence, leadership, and passion, reaffirming the underlying values of the zoo, inspiring staff, and creating the infrastructure necessary to achieve the organization’s vision, said the search firm.
A Fundraising Leader
Elevating and growing the conservation and education programs, increasing engagement with partners and audiences, and fortifying the connection between the zoo’s conservation and formal/informal education efforts will be critical. The new CEO will be expected to diversify and increase the zoo’s resource base to bolster support for conservation objectives and grow the zoo as a local and global leader in wildlife conservation.
The CEO must also utilize a strategic and long-term approach in developing business plans that leverage market intelligence to boost engagement with members and visitors. This leader will head the effort to raise private and public funding for the Dallas Zoo, planning, orchestrating, and implementing fundraising practices in conjunction with the vice president of advancement to render ongoing support and enhance the zoo’s donor list. This includes spearheading the impending launch of a $100-plus million capital campaign and inclusion in the 2024 City of Dallas general obligation bond referendum.
The successful candidate will hold a bachelor’s degree, with an advanced degree preferred, and/or a combination of professional experiences that optimize success in the role, said Shelli Herman and Associates.
An Animal Advocate
As the public face of the organization and a champion for a better world for animals, the CEO must possess and project the utmost integrity and highest standards of professional conduct. They must also be an individual qualified by accomplishment and experience to exercise the leadership of a capable, collaborative, and motivated group of colleagues.
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.”
The Dallas Zoo’s next CEO must be energetic, solutions focused, entrepreneurial, and forward-thinking with a track record of progressively responsible management proficiency, which will include executive level experience with organization-wide and multi-departmental oversight. “Our client is open to candidates from a variety of environments including but not limited to a zoo, aquarium, theme park, or sports team, as well as the hospitality industry, entertainment sector, or a conservation/ environmental stewardship organization,” said the search firm.
Founded in 1888, the 106-acre 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.
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.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media