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Meet the Executive Leadership Team

 

Alejandro Grajal, PhD
President and CEO

Alejandro became the eighth leader of Woodland Park Zoo in its 117 year history, assuming the helm in May, 2016. He is internationally known for his vision to define a new relationship between humans and nature by helping to restore the deep, affective bond between people and animals. He advocates for zoos as the best community institutions to create a social movement for conservation, to foster science learning beyond the classroom, and to ensure that all people have access to nature, regardless of socioeconomic background.

Reporting to the zoo’s Board of Directors and overseeing more than 350 full-time and seasonal staff, Alejandro is responsible for leading all zoo operations, programs, and exhibits as well as facilities, fundraising and partnership development to increase WPZ’s positive impact in the community and world.

Before joining the zoo, Alejandro served as senior vice president for conservation, education and training at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo, where he headed the Center for Conservation Leadership, oversaw field conservation and research programs for the Center for the Science of Animal Welfare, and supervised education programs. Previously, he had served as executive director of international programs for the National Audubon Society and director of Latin American programs at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.

A noted author, Alejandro’s publications include 45 peer-reviewed books, chapters, and scientific and popular articles covering topics which span the psychology of conservation, measuring the impact of environmental education, the sustainable use of natural resources and ornithology, among others. He leads the Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network (CliZEN), a coalition of zoological institutions, universities and NGOs. He has also participated in protected-area planning and conservation policy with the United States Agency for International Development, the Global Environment Fund, the World Bank and the European Union.  In 2016, Trustees of the Chicago Zoological Society awarded him the prestigious George B. Raab Medal for Conservation Leadership, recognizing his lifelong contributions to environmental and species protection, and inspiring future generations of scientists and leaders to tackle big questions about living harmoniously with all beings on the planet.  In his spare time, he is an accomplished wildlife artist whose work has been exhibited in galleries in major cities.

Alejandro earned his undergraduate degree in ecology from Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela and his PhD in zoology from the University of Florida.

 

 

Bruce W. Bohmke
Chief Operations Officer

Bruce has worked in the zoo and aquarium field for more than 30 years, beginning his career as an animal keeper at the Oakland Zoo.

Subsequently, Bruce was employed as the general curator at the Phoenix Zoo and as the curator of birds at the Saint Louis Zoo. In 1999, he came to Woodland Park Zoo as the general curator, becoming deputy director and subsequently chief operations officer.

Bruce is a professional fellow with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, having served on the Professional Development Committee, Governing Board, Ethics Committee, and Wildlife Conservation Management Committee. He remains active in the organization and currently serves on the Accreditation Commission. In the course of his career, Bruce has developed specialties in avian and elephant management.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in zoology from the University of California at Davis.

   

Becky Barker
Interim Vice President of Education

Becky has worked at AZA accredited zoos and aquariums for 30 years. She oversees the design, delivery, and evaluation of educational programming, community partnerships, interpretation, and audience research. She has extensive experience in forming collaborative partnerships, fundraising and grant-writing, staff and project management, and in developing, teaching and managed a diverse array of educational programs for a variety of audiences, some of which have garnered national recognition.

Becky has been at Woodland Park Zoo for more than 25 years in a variety of capacities in both the Education and Animal Management Departments. Her zoo career began at Sea World and San Diego Zoo as she completed her B.S. in Zoology from San Diego State University.

She is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums and is passionate about science and ecological literacy, and connecting people of all ages to the natural world and sustainability.

 

 

Lauri Hennessey
Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications

Lauri joined the zoo in December, 2016 where she oversees government relations, public relations, digital communications, and advocacy. To her role, she brings more than 25 years of experience in the news media, on Capitol Hill, and as a senior government public affairs manager, nonprofit executive director and fundraiser. Most recently she served as vice president at Edelman Public Relations and the Metropolitan Group.

Beginning her career at Seattle’s KIRO Radio, she went on to serve as congressional press secretary for U.S. Rep. John Miller (Seattle) and others; as regional head of public affairs for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; and as the congressional liaison for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle. She transitioned to the nonprofit sector and led several nonprofits, including the Municipal League of King County. Running her own company for a decade, she helped area nonprofits with public affairs, media, public relations and crisis communications, including the YMCA of Greater Seattle, Camp Fire, Treehouse, and Lifelong AIDS Alliance. During that time, she wrote an award-winning newspaper column on parenting.

A frequent media trainer and public speaker, Lauri’s greatest passion is helping nonprofits develop powerful storytelling and solid crisis communications. Active in fundraising, she currently serves on the board of Treehouse and on the development committees of Thrive Washington and Mary's Place. In her spare time, she enjoys singing and acting in community theater.

 

 

Dana Keeler, MA, SPHR

Vice President of Human Resources

Dana joined the Human Resources department at the zoo in 2012. She has managed the performance management, compensation, employee relations, rewards and recognition and development and training programs for the zoo. She has extensive experience in facilitation, change management, and leading successful teams. Her passion is empowering staff and developing positive relationships with the ability to effect positive change across the organization.

Prior to joining the zoo, she was the Director of Human Resources for KCTS Channel 9 and R.W. Beck. She also served for three years as a mentor for Lake Washington Human Resources Association and the Seattle Jobs Initiative.

Dana earned an undergraduate degree in Human Resources and Management and a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Antioch University. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Arts and Culture Human Resources Roundtable.

   

Fred W. Koontz, PhD
Vice President of Field Conservation

Fred joined Woodland Park Zoo as vice president of field conservation in 2011. He oversees the institution’s efforts to save wild animals and their habitats, and the support and capacity building of dozens of conservation projects in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Currently he serves as an affiliate professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington and is on the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Council of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Prior to joining the zoo, Fred served as executive director of Teatown Lake Reservation, a regional environmental organization and nature center devoted to biodiversity conservation and education in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley. He also served as executive vice president of Wildlife Trust (now EcoHealth Alliance), overseeing a portfolio of more than 65 projects in 20 countries and consulting on conservation and training in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Before that, he served as mammal curator at the Bronx Zoo in New York and later as director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Science Resource Center. For a decade, Fred served as an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University and was a member of the university’s management committee for the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.

Fred has published more than 50 articles for scientific and lay audiences, and has served on committees for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, World Conservation Union, and NASA. He earned his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Maryland.

   

Sarah K. Valentine, CFRE
Vice President of Development

After beginning her career in public relations and public affairs in the Seattle offices of Hill & Knowlton, managing strategic communications initiatives for a diverse cross-section of clients, Sarah transitioned to nonprofit fundraising. Over the course of her fundraising career, she has worked in a variety of national and regional/local environments honing high-level skills in all key areas that contribute to building organizational capacity. Sarah joined the development team at Woodland Park Zoo in 2012, and now serves as vice president of development, after helping WPZ complete its milestone More Wonder More Wild Campaign in 2013. Prior to the zoo, Sarah was director of stewardship and donor relations during a $200 million campaign at American University in Washington, D.C., where she built a thriving donor relations and donor communications program at one of our nation’s capital’s flagship universities while playing a key role on the leadership team of its Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

Sarah serves as a board member of the Washington Planned Giving Council and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Washington Chapter, the Association of Donor Relations Professionals, and Leave 10. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University.