Donor Stories


David Brodsky


“People need places like the zoo where they can experience the wonderful diversity of nature and hopefully foster a more empathetic attitude”

David Brodsky always appreciated nature and biodiversity. So, it was only natural for him to visit Woodland Park Zoo after moving here from the east coast in 2001. Since then, he has played a tremendous role in helping the zoo carry out its mission, starting with one of his earliest contributions in 2006 supporting the construction of Zoomazium. “I feel it is very important to have a facility where our youngest guests can not only play but also learn,” he says.

One memory he holds close comes from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. This was the first zoo Dave supported and was home to an orangutan who would instruct guests on assembling a set of Lego blocks near her exhibit. “You know how we always ask guests not to tap on the window? Well, this orangutan would tap on the window to get the guests attention,” he says. His passion for primates continues to be stoked at Woodland Park Zoo, and his visits to late orangutan Melati brought him a lot of joy and evoked strong memories. Melati’s fascination with guests’ purses and the items inside led to her having many personal interactions with zoo visitors and Dave feels fortunate to have been able to witness some of those.

He believes the zoo plays an important role in connecting people with animals and bringing about an awareness of the impact our choices have on the natural world. “People need places like the zoo where they can experience the wonderful diversity of nature and hopefully foster a more empathetic attitude,” he says. Dave talked about how the zoo not only provides an environment for people to connect with animals and their habitats, but also takes great care of these creatures by keeping them physically healthy and engaged. His involvement with the zoo has led him to appreciate the animal care practices in place along with the design principles behind the exhibits.

Dave wishes more people were aware of the research and conservation programs the zoo does behind the scenes. “Woodland Park Zoo is so much more than a facility that exhibits animals. The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program has made remarkable impacts in understanding and conserving wild tree kangaroos. Closer to home, the Western Pond Turtle breeding program has been helping to rebuild the wild western pond turtle population for decades,” he says. Thanks to donors like Dave, guests will have the opportunity to learn more about both species and the zoo’s efforts to conserve them. Western pond turtles can be visited now at the Cathy Herzig Basecamp Northwest in the Living Northwest Trail. Tree kangaroos will have a home in the upcoming Forest Trailhead exhibit.

Wanting to be even more involved with the zoo, Dave has spent the past year volunteering on grounds. In an effort to be ready for questions from guests, he goes above and beyond in learning about the zoo, its animals and policies. He relayed a story in which a child asked him if a kangaroo could swim. At the time, he wasn’t sure of the answer but made sure to look it up when he got home. In the end, he found that kangaroos can indeed swim! He loves having conversations with guests and learns so much because they ask him questions he wouldn’t think about.

Dave encourages those who are thinking of contributing to the zoo to get involved in the areas they’re passionate about and to learn more. He explains that there are so many forms a person’s support can take and that it will be utilized effectively, no matter what.

Thank you so much to Dave for his invaluable support of Woodland Park Zoo and his enthusiasm for inspiring others to make conservation a priority in their lives.

Irwin Goverman


“The zoo’s mission is a global one and encompasses everything from saving habitat to species preservation to climate change. It’s a good return and a longer-term solution for the planet.”

Irwin Goverman moved with his family to Seattle back in 1992, and he’s been sharing his time and support with Woodland Park Zoo ever since. Giving back to the community and making charitable contributions is an integral part of the family ethic shared between him and his wife, Joan. Those values, combined with the interest of their two small kids, encouraged Joan and Irwin to become more invested in the zoo’s work.

He is gratified to see that many changes and transitions made within the zoo in the last 30 years have been successful. “The zoo has grown to be a place that fosters empathy and a connection to everything from habitat preservation to species preservation,” he says. Alongside these important changes, he feels that the zoo has remained a great place to come and bring your family.

Irwin wishes more people were aware of what a wonderful resource the zoo is for our community. “It’s got something to offer, for both children and adults. It’s not only a spot to enjoy yourself and get some exercise, but also a place to see things you wouldn’t typically be able to.” Not everyone can travel abroad to see animals and their habitats in the wild, but he believes that having somewhere for people to see animals is essential in building connections with them.

The zoo becomes something much more when you consider the many objectives that come together in helping the zoo achieve its mission. “Whether we’re talking about conservation, education, social change, empathy or species preservation, one goal is not more important than the other,” notes Irwin. “Each one couldn’t exist without the other. The total package is what’s important.”

When asked what he would tell others considering becoming contributors to the zoo, he says, “Think of the big picture and what’s going on in the world.” Any contributor has a choice of where they put their money and time, but Irwin believes that it’s important to think about what that contribution can accomplish. “The zoo’s mission is a global one and encompasses everything from saving habitat to species preservation to climate change. It’s a good return and a longer-term solution for the planet.”

Although he’s been retired for several years, Irwin is staying plenty busy. In between trips to visit his grandkids, he serves on Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors and even helped author the zoo’s most recent strategic plan. “It’s more than just showing up for board meetings, it’s being able to provide support to Alejandro and the Executive Leadership Team,” he says. He’s gratified by the time he’s spent helping the zoo thrive and pleased that he’s been able to bring other contributors to the zoo. Irwin is rightly proud of the impact he’s made as a board member and remarks, “I do this for me, too.”

Thank you so much to Irwin and Joan Goverman for their significant contributions to the animals and people of Woodland Park Zoo and our conservation mission.

Glen & Susan Beebe


“We’re amazed by the transformation from the old philosophy of just exhibiting an animal to providing an environment and habitat for them and a place that they can potentially thrive in.”

Combine decades of graphic design, journalism, law and library science, and you get the accomplished duo that is Glen and Susan Beebe. Despite such varied career interests, the Beebes have some very important commonalities, foremost being a passion for philanthropy. Chatting with the two of them, their love of the environment and the gratification they get from helping to conserve it becomes quickly apparent.

Glen’s involvement with Woodland Park Zoo started when he was a child. Born and raised in Seattle, visiting the zoo allowed him to get outside and fueled his imagination. He says, “It was an opportunity to see these animals I’d otherwise only see in a book or in a special on TV.” He reminisced about features of the zoo’s past such as train rides for kids and special keys made for informational boxes in front of exhibits. Upon turning the animal-shaped key, a voice would give facts about the animals. Glen remembers his key being a blue elephant and hopes that it might turn up again in his belongings someday.

Today, Glen and Susan are proud of the years they’ve spent supporting Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP). They described tree kangaroos as “terminally cute” and spoke about meeting Lisa Dabek. “The results that Lisa and her team have been able to create on the ground in Papua New Guinea with TKCP have been phenomenal, and we certainly think we’re getting a lot of bang for the buck on that one. We’re very happy with supporting the conservation of this endangered species,” Glen says.

Through their years of support, they’ve also been able to enjoy many behind-the-scenes experiences. During one such experience, they enjoyed “breakfast in the rain forest” where they watered all the plants and spent time with the birds. During another, the two experienced the zoo’s raptor program and Glen was able to hold a spectacled owl. “The zoo’s been very good about trying to keep us engaged and providing us with opportunities to see parts of the zoo that are not always open to the public. It gives you a better appreciation of what’s going on,” Glen says.

When asked what they see as being the most important work the zoo does, Susan is quick to say conservation and education. She’s concerned about children understanding the importance of the species and biodiversity of our planet and appreciates that the zoo works to share these lessons in summer camps and in the classroom.

They’ve been interested in seeing the changes the zoo has undergone over the years. “We’re amazed by the transformation from the old philosophy of just exhibiting an animal to providing an environment and habitat for them and a place that they can potentially thrive in,” Glen says. “It’s more immersive and not just a three-dimensional picture show where you go from one viewing area to the other. It’s a full learning experience.”

Thank you so much to Glen and Susan Beebe for their generous support in conserving wildlife, both here at home and around the world.

Laurie Stewart


“We have a gem right inside our city that can provide so much for so many just in terms of pausing for a moment and enjoying the surroundings. It plays many roles.”

One of the earliest pictures taken of Laurie Stewart was as a toddler on a visit to Woodland Park Zoo. A native of Sequim, Washington, she calls herself “a smalltown kid” who would come to Seattle often to see her grandparents. Those visits are the source of many of her childhood memories and a great number of them involve trips to the zoo.

Today, Laurie is President and CEO of Sound Community Bank, has served as Chair of the zoo’s Board of Directors and is a zoo Director Emerita. Although headquartered in Seattle, Sound Community Bank does business across western Washington.

“We have a philosophy at the bank of being a values-based organization. We truly believe in our corporate values and one of those is sustainability,” she says. Alongside using less paper and natural resources, Sound Community Bank believes sustainability encompasses giving back to the communities in which they do business. Every employee is expected to volunteer with an organization in the region about which they feel passionate. “We want to do more than money. We want to give money and time and be service ambassadors for an organization,” says Laurie. While Sound Community Bank employees have volunteered with a variety of projects, their service is particularly essential to the success of Woodland Park Zoo’s annual Jungle Party fundraiser.

Laurie, speaking about Sound Community Bank’s foundation, says, “In addition to having a responsibility to be good corporate citizens, I think we have the opportunity to help organizations grow and thrive and make a difference.” In addition to making an early contribution to help create a tree kangaroo exhibit at the zoo and being regular Jungle Party sponsors, Laurie is pleased their foundation has been able to help community members engage with the zoo as well. One of these instances involved a donation they made to a nursing home in which their employees volunteered to help residents of the home visit the zoo for a day.

On a personal level, Laurie is motivated to stay involved because of a passion for nature and her fond memories of growing up with the zoo. “We have a gem right inside our city that can provide so much for so many just in terms of pausing for a moment and enjoying the surroundings. It plays many roles,” she says.

Laurie spoke of a personal contribution that came after a behind-the-scenes experience she and her late husband, Ken, won at Jungle Party many years ago. After helping feed the wolves, Ken asked the animal keepers what would make their lives easier in caring for these animals. At the time, they were having to transport raw meat for the wolves from other parts of the zoo as they didn’t have their own refrigerator. Laurie says that was all it took, and they went to Sears for a fridge that same day. “Ken was a master at understanding what was important to people and really engaging with them. In some ways, that silly refrigerator three decades ago is one of the things I’m most proud of,” she says.

She’s inspired by the sustainability of the zoo and its ability to transcend outdated expectations of zoos. “It’s an organization that can grow and thrive and we don’t always see that from cultural organizations. They either become a point in time or a dusty relic of some other era and lose that connection. We have an organization, a location and a commitment that has thrived through many years, generations and viewpoints,” she says. When asked what she would tell someone considering contributing to the zoo, she responds, “What’s holding you back? Where else can you put your money and see real conservation in action and preservation of a wonderful, cultural institution in our city?”

Thank you so much to Laurie and Sound Community Bank for their years of service and astounding commitment to helping Woodland Park Zoo achieve our mission.

Lisa Parkinson


“The programs are top-notch and vital. They address real-world problems.”

For the past decade, Lisa Parkinson has been an avid supporter of Woodland Park Zoo. Always drawn toward the field of animal care, she earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Washington State University. She has a special interest in exotic animals and soon after graduating, began working at a veterinary practice that accepted them as patients. “I very much enjoyed working with the variety of species that walked in our door every day,” she says.

A love of wildlife runs in the family. The Parkinsons would take their kids to the zoo often when they were younger. Lisa spoke about her youngest daughter, Lindsey, who was a member of the Girl Scouts with Lisa as their troop leader. The troop was able to enjoy a couple of overnight events at Woodland Park Zoo and the fun experiences left an impression on Lindsey -- so much so that she went on to become a volunteer with ZooCorps, the zoo’s former volunteer program for high school students. Her enthusiasm for the environment and conservation was apparent even at home, as she enjoyed talking to Lisa about her time volunteering. These conversations furthered Lisa’s understanding of the zoo’s broader objectives in education and conservation and ignited her interest in getting involved. Being inspired to help the zoo, Lisa had an idea to get involved with the zoo’s annual fundraiser, Jungle Party. Lisa’s late husband enjoyed fine wine and became a collector of high-end Cabernets. She reached out about donating the collection to the Jungle Party wine auction. Lisa made this contribution every year for several years, until the wine collection was gone. “I know my husband would have been pleased, and that brings me joy,” she says.

She described another gift from a family member, this one coming from her oldest son, Sean. Sean works in the field of cyber security and was able to use his expertise to help a friend. To show their gratitude for his efforts, the friend offered to make a charitable donation to the fund of his choice. Sean lives in Indonesia and had visited orangutan sanctuaries, which inspired him to help in furthering efforts to conserve their species. Lisa did some investigating and learned about the zoo’s conservation partners working to preserve orangutan populations and their forest habitats in Borneo. Knowing Woodland Park Zoo could be counted on to put the funds to good use, she helped make it happen and put her son in touch with the zoo. Sean’s gift went towards supporting both the HUTAN Kinabatangan and the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Programs, as well as a renovation of the zoo’s orangutan habitat. “The funds my son sent were enough to pay for the majority of the orangutan conservation program budget last year and also helped to buy the new heating unit for the orangutan exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo,” Lisa says.

She believes the efforts to conserve species are the most important work the zoo does, and it’s what motivates her to stay involved. “By saving ecosystems and all the species that are part of them, we have a chance to rebuild what we have lost,” she says. Lisa hopes this work will allow future generations to enjoy the same wilderness that previous generations have.

She would tell those considering contributing to the zoo, “The programs are top-notch and vital. They address real-world problems.” She believes conservation is imperative and that it’s something everyone should be concerned about.

Alongside the mission to save wildlife, Lisa says the people of the zoo keep her coming back. “Everyone I have ever interacted with at Woodland Park Zoo has been professional, kind, thoughtful and has made me feel that my donations matter. When you feel good about something you’ve done, it makes you want to do that again!” she says.

Thank you so much to Lisa and the Parkinson family for acting on your passion for species conservation and your dedication to saving wildlife.

Our Mission

Woodland Park Zoo saves wildlife and inspires everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.

Land Acknowledgment

Woodland Park Zoo recognizes that these are the lands of the Tribal signatories of the Treaty of Point Elliott. We acknowledge their stewardship of this place continues to this day and that it is our responsibility to join them to restore the relationship with the living world around us.

5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103   |  206.548.2500  |

Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Seattle Parks & Recreation
Humane Certification