Organization: Philadelphia Zoo

Location: Philadelphia , PA

Express Interest

About Philadelphia Zoo:

In 1859, Philadelphia became home to America’s first zoo.  Now celebrating over 150 years of innovation and achievement, Philadelphia Zoo is a key part of the region’s life and culture, a compelling living classroom, and a conservation leader.

Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. Philadelphia Zoo is working double-time to educate more than 1.2 million annual visitors about animal and environmental conservation via a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration trail system, called Zoo360, that offers animals more room to roam, and KidZooU — a new KidZooU children’s zoo and education center that serves as a model for children’s zoos nationwide.

Philadelphia Zoo invites young learners and lifelong learners alike to experience the newly opened KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center, which focuses on domestic rare breed animals. A year-round destination, the outdoor portion of KidZooU is brimming with activity, from pigeons flying overhead, to the barnyard and stables where kids can pet and brush sheep, and a towering goat bridge and children’s climbing structure that offers parallel play opportunities.  Indoors, guests can marvel at a world teeming with coral reef fish, colorful parakeets and other extraordinary animals. Conservation stations, programming and interactive exhibits show visitors how saving energy and recycling can help save wildlife.

Commitment to their core purpose—connecting people with wildlife and inspiring action for animals and habitats—energizes the staff and volunteers and challenges Philadelphia Zoo to set increasingly high expectations for their performance and impact. Philadelphia Zoo works to fulfill their mission as an animal care organization, as a resource to schools and families, and as an ark and advocate for endangered animals around the world. By connecting people with wildlife, the Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habitats.

For more information on The Philadelphia Zoo, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Philadelphia Zoo is seeking an entrepreneurial and experienced Chief Development Officer (CDO) at an exciting and pivotal moment in the Zoo’s long and distinguished history. The Philadelphia Zoo is the nation’s first zoo, founded in 1859 and located in one of Philadelphia’s many changing neighborhoods. Each year the Zoo attracts roughly 1.2 million visitors and supports an operating budget of $25 million generated almost entirely through earned revenue. The zoo has been broadly recognized for its strong financial stewardship, and is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in animal care, conservation efforts, and for its highly innovative trail system.

In 2017, the Zoo is simultaneously undertaking two critical planning efforts: a board led strategic planning process and an in-depth site master plan focused on the campus, including both the visitor and animal experience. The results of these planning projects will chart a path forward for the Zoo and will require significant philanthropic support.

Over the past decade, the Zoo has raised approximately $100 million for a series of high impact capital projects. Going forward, the Zoo hopes to build on its culture of philanthropy, as well as the number and depth of philanthropic relationships. Engaging the next generation of philanthropic leaders will be an important component of these efforts.

Reporting to and working in partnership with the President and Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Development Officer has principle responsibility for planning, leading, and executing all major components of philanthropic relationship building and revenue generation on behalf of the Philadelphia Zoo. The Chief Development Officer plays a catalytic role in building and evolving the culture of philanthropy at the Zoo across all constituencies.

The Chief Development Officer serves as an essential member of the Zoo’s senior management team which is charged with: charting a future course for the Zoo which addresses its relevance and impact and is financially sustainable; reimagining the Zoo’s built environment as the context in which its mission is optimally fulfilled; broadening and redefining the Zoo’s relationship with the communities by which it is surrounded; and assuming a leadership position nationally and internationally as advocates for animal care and welfare, and environmental conservation.

The Chief Development Officer also serves as the senior leader and manager of the Zoo’s relationship building efforts, and fundraising and philanthropic initiatives; leading both board and staff in expanding the Zoo’s reach within the donor community. When working with philanthropists, the CDO serves as a trusted advisor and expert to guide the translation of vision, values, and aspirations into philanthropic funding mechanisms.

The primary responsibilities of the Chief Development Officer role include:

  • Developing and executing an overarching set of strategies for expanding and deepening philanthropic relationships with the Zoo and increasing revenue from philanthropy for restricted purposes including capital expansion projects and new programs, as well as for designated operating purposes.
  • Working collaboratively with board and executive leadership to help build a culture of philanthropy in general and, specifically deepening governance and volunteer commitment to, and engagement with, the Zoo’s fundraising efforts.
  • In collaboration with the Zoo’s senior management team, Marketing and the Board, develop a clear and compelling set of messages about the case for philanthropic support for the Zoo.
  • Building, managing, training, and retaining a talented and engaged fundraising team and organization with the appropriate structure and capacity to execute effective philanthropic strategies. This effort should be guided by industry best practices.
  • Developing robust fundraising programs from annual giving to principle and planned giving which include clear goals; objectives; action steps; and measures of accountability. This will require expanded and systematic focus on, and attention to every step in the relationship building process with prospective and existing donors including identification; qualification; cultivation; solicitation; and stewardship.
  • Refining and expanding fundraising practices and processes to support superlative donor stewardship and ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness. This will include developing a prospect management system and dashboard reporting to support transparency and accountability.
  • Developing and sustaining a set of philanthropic relationships on behalf of the Zoo through a strategic and focused portfolio of prospective and active donors.
  • Helping to build the Zoo’s profile in the local and national philanthropic community by serving as an ambassador.

Candidate Profile:

A successful Chief Development Officer will possess the following but not limited to qualifications:

  • 10 or more years of progressive responsibility in a development context, including experience managing fundraising programs and fundraising staff. Experience in campaign planning and execution.
  • Outstanding and proven executive abilities: planning; communicating; managing talent in a competitive environment; and executing to achieve goals.
  • Demonstrated experience working in complex institutional settings; managing change; and working across divisions within an organization. An ability to quickly engender respect while building organizational understanding of the role of philanthropy in an earned revenue-driven model.
  • Experience with all phases of the relationship building and fundraising process, including experience in soliciting and stewarding major donors for gifts in the six and seven figure range.
  • Significant experience working with governance and supporting volunteers (including development volunteers, board members, and others) including but not limited to a fundraising context.
  • Outstanding organizational skills including the ability to manage multiple priorities and to consistently meet timelines and budget expectations. Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills including written and oral presentations.
  • A leadership style that inspires confidence and encourages excellence.
  • A sense of humor and unfailing professional integrity.
  • A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in a related field is preferred and an educational foundation and sophistication that inspires confidence.


The Philadelphia Zoo has engaged Liz Lombard and Turner Delano of Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here.

The Philadelphia Zoo is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information, visit