The Los Angeles Zoo graces one of the largest and most-visited urban parks in one of the greatest cities of the world. It’s also within the California Floristic Province, a biodiversity hotspot with a large number of endemic species (species found nowhere else). This confluence of natural and cultural richness is one of the many reasons I’m excited about my new role as president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.
In my 18 years as senior vice president of advancement at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, I learned that people value nature when they experience wildlife and the natural world, inspiring them to help preserve and protect animals, plants, and their habitats. During a period of rapid ecological change, the conservation and education mission of our Zoo is more important than ever before. Our shared 20-year Vision Plan provides for new exhibits, habitats, and visitor experiences with a powerful emphasis on protecting biodiversity and teaching children—and adults—about the animals with whom we share Los Angeles and the world.
GLAZA plays a vital role in providing financial support to the Zoo as well as connecting it to our great city and the cultural and civic organizations that make Los Angeles an exciting place to live. As an Angeleno for more than 35 years, I’m deeply engaged in the cultural community of Southern California, particularly theatre and visual art, but also music, opera, universities, and museums of all kinds. At the Museum I also worked with environmental and conservation organizations at the local, national, and international levels. I look forward to helping the Zoo expand its partnerships with outstanding cultural, conservation, and educational organizations, growing audiences, and discovering unexpected connections between humans and animals.
Creating connections between people and nature is now more important than ever. I’m also reminded of the importance of connections between people as I follow in the footsteps of my long-time friend Connie Morgan as the president of GLAZA and partner with Genie Vasels, vice president of institutional advancement, another friend of many years. I am most grateful to my new colleagues Dawn Petersen-Amend and Denise Verret for their work as interim GLAZA president and interim zoo director. I am especially appreciative of GLAZA’s trustees, staff, members, donors, and volunteers, many of whom are friends from the Museum. Together, we are a community passionate about animals and committed to nature, ready to embark on a journey into the future outlined in the Vision Plan. I’m thrilled to join you at this exciting moment in the history of GLAZA and the Zoo.