Executive Director, San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Executive Director, San Diego Zoo
Senior Vice President, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
San Diego, California




The San Diego Zoo, one of the nation’s most iconic and treasured zoological and cultural institutions, seeks an Executive Director. Since its founding in 1916, the Zoo has inspired and welcomed visitors from around the world to its home in San Diego’s Balboa Park. It has long served as a leader in positioning zoos as conservation organizations and promoted pathbreaking alliances with field conservationists and scientists. Today, the Zoo is a vital and foundational anchor organization within the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, serving to inspire and educate the public; providing world-class wildlife care, health, veterinary services, and nutrition; and contributing to impactful field conservation initiatives worldwide. The Zoo itself hosted nearly 4 million guests in 2019 alone, and even through the Covid pandemic, it has served as an exciting destination for respite and education for millions of visitors.


The Zoo’s Executive Director reports to the Chief Operating Officer of the Wildlife Alliance and oversees over $175 million in revenue, total staff of more than 900 organized under a team of five direct reports, and over 1000 volunteers. The Executive Director also serves as a key member of the Alliance Executive Team as a Senior Vice President.


For this pivotal role, the Alliance seeks an experienced and strategic leader within the zoological community who brings expertise in wildlife care and welfare as well as the capacity to oversee the largest operation within a complex mission-driven global enterprise. The Executive Director must be a comfortable external representative and enthusiastic fundraiser. Additionally, the Executive Director must be an outstanding collaborator, dedicated to powerfully uniting the activities of the Zoo at home with those of its sister organization, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, as well as with the Alliance’s field and educational efforts worldwide.


A small search committee has been established to conduct the search. The committee is assisted by Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm. Inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed in confidence to the search firm as noted below.


Natalie Leonhard, Partner
Sharon Hansen, Senior Associate
Isaacson, Miller

To apply for this job please visit www.imsearch.com.