Zoo News

Feb 03, 2023

Buffalo Zoo Interim President and CEO, Lisa Smith, Named to AZA Executive Leadership Development Program 2023 Class

The Buffalo Zoo is proud to announce that Interim President and CEO/Chief Zoological officer, Lisa Smith, has been selected for the prestigious The Association of Zoos and Aquariums‘ (AZA) Executive Leadership Development Program (EDLP). The EDLP focuses on development of executive competencies like knowledge, skills and behaviors needed to be the most effective in the role of a zoo or aquarium director – including executive leadership behaviors, executive focus, and executive oversight for zoo/aquarium operations.
Known as a very competitive program to be accepted into, Lisa has received the high honor of being one of only nine professionals selected for EDLP’s Class of 2023 which is made up of candidates from all across North America. As the Interim President and CEO/Chief Zoological Officer of the Buffalo Zoo, being a part of EDLP will continue to provide Lisa with the tools needed to succeed in her role and lead the Buffalo Zoo to a bigger and brighter future.
“When this program began nearly a decade ago, the goal was to develop the next generation of leaders capable of shaping a bright future for our profession,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “The results speak for themselves. Of the 83 ELDP graduates, three-fourths have advanced inside or outside their organization. This includes 27 graduates who now serve in a Director or CEO role and four who currently serve on the AZA Board of Directors. I look forward to seeing how these nine new professionals will help lead and shape our community in the future!”
With over 20 years of zoo experience, Lisa began her career as an animal keeper at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland Ohio. From there, she went on to hold leadership roles at Zoo Atlanta and the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lisa arrived at the Buffalo Zoo in May 2018 and served as the General Curator until May 2021 when she was promoted to Chief Zoological Officer (CZO). In September 2022, Lisa was named Interim President and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo. Lisa will continue to lead the Buffalo Zoo through this role until a permanent President and CEO is named.

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