Position Description

Position Description

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

(Los Angeles, CA)

Title: President


Mission Statement: The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association is a nonprofit corporation created to support the Los Angeles Zoo in its mission to nurture wildlife and enrich the human experience.  GLAZA’s primary responsibility is to seek and provide financial support for the Zoo’s programs and capital projects.  

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens (the “L.A. Zoo”) opened to the public in 1966 in its current location, following the closure of the original Griffith Park Zoo. Open 364 days each year (closed on Christmas Day), the L.A. Zoo is owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles.  The L.A. Zoo exhibits approximately 1,100 animals on 113 acres and is dedicated to creating a unique environment for conservation, recreation and discovery. The L.A. Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (“AZA”) and the American Association of Museums (“AAM”). The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) was created in 1963 as the support partner of the L.A. Zoo in its mission to nurture wildlife and enrich the human experience. Today, GLAZA operates and manages seven essential departments at the L.A. Zoo – fundraising, membership, publications, volunteers, special events, concessions, marketing and public relations through an Operating Agreement, a Concessions Agreement and various Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the City of Los Angeles and the Department of the L.A. Zoo.

Over the last five decades, the L.A. Zoo has served as an important cultural venue for the community. It draws nearly 1.8M visitors annually, and GLAZA boasts a membership base of approximately 60,000 households. With access for all a top priority, the L.A. Zoo’s visitorship reflects the diversity of Los Angeles – with all ages, ethnicities and income levels coming together to express a shared interest in animals and their welfare. By providing a wide variety of formal and informal educational programming that meets the needs of the community, the L.A. Zoo is a valuable resource in the community for lifelong learning about animals, their habitats, and the environment. GLAZA commits significant resources to support the L.A. Zoo’s wildlife conservation and endangered species preservation efforts both locally and around the world. 

GLAZA had an operating budget of $17.3 million for FY 18; it raised over $6 million in philanthropic support; and it generated over $10 million in earned revenue for the L.A. Zoo through Membership, Concessions and Night-Time Ticketed Events. In recent years, GLAZA has provided significant capital funding for the L.A. Zoo’s completed Master Plan; funded multiple conservation, medical and education programs on behalf of the L.A. Zoo; and established a fund to create a curator position that will support and promote the L.A. Zoo’s conservation programs.  Additionally, GLAZA is responsible for driving attendance which earned the L.A. Zoo approximately $15M.

The last two decades have been a time of tremendous change for the L.A. Zoo. In the 90s, the L.A. Zoo adopted a $171 million Master Plan Phase I. Since then, through the combined efforts of the L.A. Zoo and GLAZA, 11 major capital projects were completed. The L.A. Zoo now has new homes for chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, as well as elephants, seals, domestic animals, the varied taxa living in the LAIR and in the Rainforest of the Americas. There is also the state-of-the-art Gottlieb Animal Health and Conservation Center, education facilities and a new welcoming entrance. The Master Plan Phase I was completed as of June 2015 and a new Vision Plan has been developed that will take the L.A. Zoo forward into the next decades and transform over two-thirds of the current L.A. Zoo over the next twenty years. Planning for and implementing a major capital campaign to support the Vision Plan will be a key responsibility of the GLAZA President.

For more information about the L.A. Zoo, visit www.lazoo.org and for additional information on GLAZA, please visit: https://www.lazoo.org/about/glaza/.  The Vision Plan is available here.


Reporting to the GLAZA Board of Trustees, the President must work closely with the Board Chair to develop the strategic direction of GLAZA and to provide for appropriate governance of the organization. The President has overall responsibility for the operating health and well-being of the organization, including strategic planning, fundraising, fiscal management, external relationships, revenue generation, marketing and programs. The President is the leader of the organization, establishing a vision for GLAZA that is achieved through the efforts of a diverse team of high-performing leaders, staff and volunteers alike. Through such vision, the President will build the GLAZA internal culture and encourage professional growth. This individual will leverage the power of relationships and networks, and work across private, public, corporate and government sectors to advance the mission of GLAZA and that of the L.A. Zoo. The successful candidate will possess a high level of broad nonprofit financial and management experience. 

The President will serve as a partner to the Zoo Director in making certain that the goals of GLAZA support the goals of the L.A. Zoo, within budgetary guidelines. This close and effective working relationship is essential to achieving the short- and long-term goals of the organization.

The successful candidate will lead the organization to financially sustainable results, addressing challenges promptly, creatively, and effectively, while partnering with the Board of Trustees in fundraising and resource management efforts. The President will have a direct, personal role in raising funds from individual and institutional donors. The President will also look for additional opportunities to provide earned income to the L.A. Zoo. The President will be an effective partner with the Board to develop and execute the mission and vision of GLAZA. This individual must be proactive in communicating effectively with the Board on important issues. The President will also lead negotiations for renewal of the MOUs and the upcoming renegotiation and renewal of the Operating Agreement with the City of Los Angeles.

The President must work to ensure an internal organizational culture of transparency and accountability, teamwork, and openness to change, serving as an accessible leader to 44 full-time, 15 part-time, over 70 part-time seasonal staff, and more than 700 dedicated volunteers who contribute more than 92,000 service hours each year. Direct reports currently include: Vice President, Chief Financial Officer; Vice President, Institutional Advancement; Vice President, Marketing; Vice President, Legal Counsel/Human Resources; Director of Special Events; and Director of Volunteers.

Key Responsibilities Include:

I. Build and Nurture a Close and Strategic Partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Other Key Stakeholders.

  1. The Los Angeles City Government – The L.A. Zoo (the support of which is GLAZA’s sole mission) is a department of the City of Los Angeles (the “City”). As such, building and nurturing a close and strategic relationship with the City is paramount to GLAZA achieving its mission. The GLAZA President will meet with the Zoo Director on a regular basis to ensure alignment of our missions and to promote transparency. The President will build relationships with other key City officials in furtherance of a close and strategic partnership and in carrying out certain key obligations. These obligations include preparing regular reports to the Arts, Entertainment, Parks and River Committee of the City Council; renegotiating the Memoranda of Understanding with the Zoo Director on a regular basis, renegotiating the Operating Agreement with the City (expires in 2022); and implementing and executing other operations and revenue generating projects (including a newly negotiated concessions revenue sharing agreement with the City).
  2. The Community of Los Angeles – The President will foster relationships within the community of Los Angeles in order to increase the visibility of the L.A. Zoo and GLAZA. The President will champion the development and implementation of a strong and consistent brand platform to build operational capacity, galvanize support, and maintain focus on the mission; build and support funding and development of public programming to drive attendance and increase revenues; lead GLAZA in promoting community advocacy for a City bond measure to support the Vision Plan; and evaluate potential opportunities in conjunction with the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
  3. The GLAZA Staff – The President will lead staff members to achieve the goals of GLAZA by inspiring them through personal dedication to the organization. The President will create a work environment that attracts and retains top talent; develop staff through the mutual creation of personal and group goals; identify training needs and promote professional growth; and develop performance based compensation opportunities. 
  4. The GLAZA Board of Trustees – The President will work to advance Board capacity and effective decision making by promoting proactive Board development, education and communication. This includes working with Board leadership on the identification, recruitment, selection, and orientation of new Board members.

II. Fundraising and Other Revenue Generation and Maintenance.

Along with building strategic partnerships with the City and other stakeholders in the community, fundraising, together with other revenue generation and financial stewardship, is the other key responsibility of the President. 

  1. Fundraising – The President will lead the development of strategies for the solicitation and stewardship of major gifts, annual giving, capital gifts and sponsorships from individuals, foundations and corporations. The President will oversee and lead fundraising efforts for the Beastly Ball, GLAZA’s annual fundraising event, and will develop and Implement plans for a comprehensive and coordinated capital campaign in support of the L.A. Zoo's new Vision Plan.
  2. Other Revenue Generation – The President will encourage an entrepreneurial culture that identifies opportunities to generate new earned income revenue sources for the Zoo while improving existing revenue categories, including but not limited to, Night-Time Ticketed Events, Membership Program, and Concessions.
  3. Ensure Financial Management – The President will ensure the adequacy and soundness of GLAZA’s financial structure and review projections for GLAZA’s working capital requirements. The President will oversee the development of budgets for submission to the Board; communicate this information to the Board through proper and timely financial reporting; and ensure that there are ongoing adequate and appropriate accounting and financial controls in place.


The ideal candidate is a team builder, mentor, and seasoned leader who operates with a strategic perspective while executing the day-to-day activities. The President will be a dynamic, visionary, forward-thinking leader with an entrepreneurial spirit who has shown success in building widespread support for an organization through collective efforts with internal and external stakeholders. A strong business acumen and courage to shift direction and experiment with new initiatives for the future growth GLAZA must be combined with unquestioned integrity and a long-term perspective. Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including outstanding public speaking skills are essential, as the President will represent GLAZA to its various constituencies. The President will have strong interpersonal skills, be a natural relationship builder, and have a sense of humor. Proven fundraising experience and the ability to relate comfortably with a variety of constituencies including public officials, foundations, and individuals are essential. The President will be politically savvy, a good listener who is accessible and a coalition-builder who can work on multiple levels with a wide variety of constituencies. An inclusive, inspiring and empowering leadership style that endorses teamwork and open, transparent communication will be highly valued. This individual will accomplish goals through motivation, the delegation of authority, and the use of systems that are designed for effective planning, evaluation, and accountability. The successful candidate will have critical thinking skills and will display integrity and good judgment. 


The ideal candidate will have at least ten years of experience in a senior strategic leadership position in the nonprofit sector with experience managing in a complex organization with multiple stakeholders (board, staff, donors, volunteers, elected officials, and partner organizations). Although the individual could come from a variety of fields and disciplines, it would be helpful if the President has lived or worked in Los Angeles. Experience in building revenue and increasing support combined with a record of success in developing partnerships, building teams and resolving conflict is important. The successful candidate will have prior experience creating work environments that are inclusive, positive and productive. This individual must demonstrate a high level of intelligence and intellectual curiosity and a desire to explore new ideas and innovative approaches to solving problems. The successful candidate will have experience working collaboratively with a Board of Trustees in executing a vision and mission. 


An undergraduate degree is required. Training, experience or advanced degree in business or nonprofit management is preferred.


Annual compensation will be competitive and relocation assistance, if needed, is negotiable. A comprehensive benefits package will be provided.


To apply for this position, visit www.morrisberger.com/searches.php

Morris & Berger
500 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 2150
Glendale, CA 91203-1923

1 (818) 507-1234