Senior Vice President for Conservation Engagement & Impact- Denver Zoo

Denver Zoological Foundation
Denver, Colorado
Range is $12,250-$14,250 (monthly); excellent benefits including medical, dental and vision.
Apr 08, 2021
Jun 07, 2021
Job Level
Senior level
Employment Type
Full time
Salary Type

Job Details Description  


 Denver Zoo is a leader in animal care, wildlife conservation and education.  We are passionate about our commitment to excellence in support of our mission of Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations.

Denver Zoo honors our animals, staff and guests by conducting ourselves at the highest level of integrity through our Core Actions – Inspire Awe: Safety, Care, Connect and by embracing our Core Behaviors of: Passion, Respect, Innovation, Diversity and Excellence in all that we do.  Visit to learn more.

The Senior Vice President for Conservation Engagement & Impact will lead the Zoo in promoting Denver Zoo’s conservation, education, and community engagement work, and will develop and strengthen strategic alliances with current and future partners.  This position will align the vision and direction for the Zoo’s Conservation Engagement & Impact Division, consisting of the Conservation, Guest Engagement & Learning Experiences, and Community Research & Evaluation departments.  As a new division of Denver Zoo, these three departments are responsible for all onsite, community-based, and in-the-field programs focused on learning, behavior change, capacity building, and wildlife conservation outcomes. This position will lead the efforts to define and establish the role for Denver Zoo as a zoo-based conservation organization, both locally and globally. This person will activate and build coalitions around the expertise within the departments to develop, implement, and evaluate multiple programs (locally, regionally, and internationally), including guest engagement, learning experiences, community engagement, applied field conservation, social and biological research, and impact evaluation.

Our staff is a dedicated and diverse group of individuals committed to providing quality care to our animals while creating moments of awe for guests.  If you are a like-minded individual and thrive in a dynamic, fast paced and innovative culture, Denver Zoo is the place for you! 

Essential Duties and Responsibilities 

Division Leadership & Oversight

  • Facilitate a sense of community within the division. Prioritize practices that focus on inclusion and a sense of belonging for the diverse individuals with the larger team. Motivate and mentor team staff, and foster a collaborative working environment.
  • Partner with division leaders, Zoo executive staff, and other colleagues to set and oversee the overall vision and strategic direction of the Conservation Engagement and Impact Division.
  • Ensure effective partnership and communication among the three departments in the Division – Conservation, Guest Engagement and Learning Experiences, and Community Research and Impact – as well as across the entire organization.
  • Promote the development, implementation and evaluation of innovative, creative, and effective field conservation, learning experiences, guest and community engagement, and capacity building programs (locally and globally) to achieve wildlife conservation impact and leadership development.
  • Oversee the Division’s social science research and evaluations that focus both on engaging community insights, as well as measuring the impact of strategic key indicators for performance of guest and community engagement, learning, behavior change, and capacity building.
  • Oversee the Division’s field conservation programs that use social and environmental science to both understand and monitor key threats to biodiversity conservation targets, and to prioritize actions (community engagement, capacity building, protected area management enhancement, and influencing policy) designed to mitigate those threats and improve the status of conservation targets.
  • Oversee the development and execution of a comprehensive community engagement plan for the Conservation Engagement and Impact Division that reflects partnerships with internal and external stakeholders, alignment to the Zoo’s strategic plan, and positions the Zoo as an authentic and meaningful community partner and resource.
  • Promote on-going growth opportunities for employees.
  • Advocate the strategy of the division with executives, the Board of Governors, and community members.

Strategic Partnerships

  • Unite Denver Zoo staff, volunteers, the Board of Governors, Leadership Council, and community members in a holistic approach to conservation, inclusive of learning experiences and outcomes, behavior change for sustainability and saving wildlife, capacity development, and wildlife and habitat conservation.
  • Advocate the Division’s role in the planning, design, and implementation of new exhibits and facilities, serving as an advocate for innovative and inspiring guest experiences.
  • Assist division leadership with the development of strategic relationships, and represent the Zoo externally in local partnerships, collaborations, and affiliations to reach shared conservation engagement and impact goals.   
  • Partner with the Chief Development Officer and Development staff to secure funding in support of the Zoo’s conservation engagement and impact priorities through grant-writing, individual donor development, and other fundraising strategies. 
  • Partner with Vice President for External Relations and the External Relations staff to promote Denver Zoo’s conservation engagement and impact activities, and the Zoo’s mission, to the greater Denver Zoo community, collaborators, colleagues, scientists, and the general public through a variety of publications, web pages, presentations, interviews, and similar activities. 
  • Join forces with the Guest Experience Division to promote a culture committed to cultivating moments of awe with guests and our community, and a dedication to sustainable practices in our daily operations.
  • Serve as an executive partner and oversight of organizational strategic plans and initiatives.

Operation Oversight

  • Oversee the development of annual business plans, work plans, and budgets for each department, including clearly articulated goals, objectives, action plans, timelines, resource assignments, and risk analysis.
  • Set priorities in alignment with Inspire Awe: 
    • Safety first, always 
    • Care demonstrated through exceptional guest service 
    • Connect with each guest utilizing ROADMAP’s guest engagement strategies and program development process 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to Denver Zoo’s Sustainability Policies by adhering to all environmental, safety, & health regulations, procedures, and goals. 
  • Act in accordance with Denver Zoo’s Core Behaviors: Passion, Respect, Innovation, Diversity, and Excellence in all interactions with staff, guest, volunteers, and vendors. 

Other Responsibilities and Duties

  • Ability to clearly articulate a vision of Denver Zoo’s opportunity for wildlife conservation engagement and impact in the future, and to provide the leadership required to garner board, staff and volunteer support of that vision. 
  • Exceptional leadership skills and demonstrated ability to foster teamwork within and across teams, and across multiple disciplines. A demonstrated record of ability to plan, organize and direct work programs in an effective manner. A leadership style that inspires confidence and encourages excellence for professional and support staff members, as well as volunteers. 
  • Exceptional communication, interpersonal and team facilitation skills. 
  • Ability to demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills required for strategic planning, fundraising and revenue maximization. 
  • Ability to cultivate and maintain effective working relationships with a diversity of groups including board members, zoo staff, volunteers and the public. 
  • A proven record of successful change management practices.

Technical / Professional Requirements & Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences, environmental education or similar field required.  Advanced degree preferred.
  • Minimum of ten (10) years’ experience working in conservation, learning and guest engagement, program evaluation, or similar field strongly preferred.
  • A minimum of five (5) years of experience in a professional management or administrative leadership position in a large, complex organization, which must have included responsibility for organization structure, staffing, resolution of organizational conflicts, formulations of budgets with responsibility of earned revenue goals and operations evaluation. 

Position Conditions

  • Ability to pass a background check and pre-employment drug and alcohol screen.


Range for this Senior Vice President for Conservation Engagement & Impact position is $12,250-$14,250 (monthly).  This position is eligible for an annual incentive plan.


This is a full-time position Denver Zoological Foundation position with excellent benefits including medical, dental and vision benefits; life insurance; short term and long-term disability; 403(b) retirement plan; and vacation and sick leave. 

Application Process and Timelines

Open until filled, Review of applications will begin immediately.  Denver Zoo reserves the right to close the position prior to this date. 

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and others who identify as nonwhite, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and those with lived experience with racism and/or misogynoir are encouraged to apply for this role. 

Denver Zoo is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected status or any other characteristic protected by law.


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