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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.

   

David C. Wu
Chief Advancement Officer

David rejoined the zoo in 2017 with the goal of mobilizing ideas and solutions that propel this premier cultural institution forward in an exciting direction of innovation in conservation, science education, and animal care, and in new ways of connecting everyone to animals and nature.

In this new role, David provides strategic leadership to mobilize multiple revenue bases for sound operational management and financial sustainability, and to engage more people from diverse sectors by cultivating their passion for saving animals. He leads an interdisciplinary division spanning the departments of communications, public affairs, marketing, membership and development to amplify the zoo’s mission and scale up its reach and impact.

Recently, David served as chief development officer at PATH (2012-2016), an international nonprofit organization, expanding operations and the resource base to accelerate innovations in global health. Prior to that, he was the zoo’s vice president of external relations (2004- 2012) overseeing fundraising, communications and public affairs, and architecting the zoo’s $80 million, seven-year More Wonder More Wild Campaign. David was also instrumental in the University of Washington’s $2 billion Creating Futures campaign, serving as acting vice president for development and alumni relations and leading that operation to a record $239 million in funds raised during his tenure, and earlier as assistant dean for development and external affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences.

He is currently on the boards of Global Washington, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, Global Impact and Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. He was a faculty member for the CASE Summer Institute for Fundraising at Dartmouth College, and a visiting philanthropy expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

David earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Polytechnic and a master’s degree in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University.

   

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.

   

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.

   

Wei Ying Wong, PhD
Vice President of Education

Wei Ying joined Woodland Park Zoo in March, 2017 from Philadelphia Zoo where, as director of conservation impact, she led the creation of an institutional theoretical framework for planning and evaluation of exhibits and programs to promote conservation behavior among zoo visitors.

As an applied social science researcher, Wei Ying has two decades of experience in interdisciplinary and multicultural conservation and education projects both nationally and internationally. She brings a focus on engaging diverse stakeholders in conservation to achieve measurable outcomes and is committed to supporting inclusive discourses and socially just environmental policies, and dismantling the systems of power and privilege in the conservation, science and environmental learning arenas. Prior to joining zoos, she led a communications initiative for The Ocean Project, helping zoo and aquarium partners align market research and effective communication strategies to achieve conservation outcomes. She also taught environmental communications at Connecticut College as a visiting assistant professor.

Wei Ying has received multiple research fellowships and practitioner awards including an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Communication, a Margaret Sheridan Community Learning Award, a Toyota-Audubon Conservation Leader Fellowship, and a Rhode Island Foundation Emerging Non-Profit Leader. She is on the steering committees of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation and the Zoo & Aquarium Focus Interest Group for the Visitor Studies Association. She is also a member of the North American Association for Environmental Education, American Alliance of Museums, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Wei Ying earned her MA and PhD in environmental studies from Brown University.