Baton Rouge Zoo Foundation Executive Director


The Baton Rouge Zoo Foundation (BRZF) is seeking a dynamic leader to fill the role of executive director. Emergent Method, a Louisiana-based management consulting firm, has been retained by the foundation to facilitate this executive search and hiring process.


This position represents an unprecedented opportunity for an experienced leader, fundraiser, and communicator to take the helm of a foundation that, in collaboration with the leadership teams and staff of the Baton Rouge Zoo and Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish (BREC), is leading a signification transformation of the Baton Rouge Zoo in coordination with the reimagination of the adjacent Greenwood Park. The scale and magnitude of these investments and the impact they will generate, along with the ongoing operational and other support the BRZF provides to the Zoo in myriad ways, underscores the importance of and need for strong and capable day-to-day leadership at the BRZF to help the Zoo meet current and future demands. To that end, the BRZF is seeking an executive director who can fill this role and scale the BRZF’s impact alongside the continued growth of the organization it exists to support.


The BRZF exists to support the Baton Rouge Zoo, a department of the Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the BRZF is governed by a dedicated volunteer board of directors consisting of business and community leaders dedicated to the same conservation, education, and engagement principles that are fundamental to the Baton Rouge Zoo.


The executive director is tasked with carrying out strategic and fundraising strategies to promote the image and awareness of the Baton Rouge Zoo, cultivating relationships with key donors and community stakeholders, and serving as a team builder and accessible, seasoned leader who leads daily operations for the foundation. It is crucial this leader builds and maintains an organizational culture of transparency and accountability, teamwork, and openness to change.


Job Description

The ideal candidate will have significant leadership and fundraising experience, a track record of developing strategic relationships to spur fund development activities, experience building a robust donor base, and a history of working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders such as board members, staff, donors, volunteers, elected officials, and partner organizations.


Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:


Fundraising & Donor Management

  • Lead all fundraising initiatives for the BRZF, including securing event sponsors, promoting financial stewardship, and managing large gift efforts
  • Develop and implement plans for comprehensive and robust capital campaigns in support of the Zoo Master Plan
  • Build relationships with Zoo department leaders to form and promote effective strategic partnerships that help secure event sponsors, fund the Zoo Master Plan’s implementation, and foster other community relationships that help increase the BRZF’s visibility and impact
  • Lead the solicitation of sponsors for all Zoo and BRZF events and educational programs
  • Exhibit strong donor relationship management by identifying opportunities to generate new sponsors while improving relationship with current sponsors
  • Build and sustain working relationships and communication with the philanthropic community
  • Identify and inventory capital naming opportunities and solicit donors to meet BRZF revenue goals.


Stakeholder Engagement

  • Meet regularly with the Zoo director and BREC Superintendent to align missions, communicate transparently about developments or needs impacting both organizations, and achieve mutual goals
  • Build the BRZF board of directors’ capacity and support the board’s decision making by promoting proactive board development, education, and BRZF communications, including working with board leadership on identifying, recruiting, selecting, and onboarding new board members
  • Represent the BRZF effectively in building alliances with external stakeholders and the general public in a manner that reflects the BRZF’s mission and objectives
  • Work supportively and collaboratively with the BRZF board to support regular board meetings, including providing materials, preparing for meetings, and giving updates on progress toward achieving strategic and fundraising goals
  • Prepare regular reports to the BREC Commission at the request of the Zoo director and/or BREC Superintendent

Operational Leadership

  • Champion the development and implementation of a strong and consistent platform that galvanizes support and maintains a strong focus on the BRZF’s mission.
  • Develop and implement strategies that support funding the implementation of the Zoo Master Plan, which will increase the number of individuals served by the Zoo, drive Zoo attendance, and increase Zoo revenues
  • Lead the BRZF in advocating for the Zoo throughout the Baton Rouge community and coordinating with BREC on supporting future tax renewals that may support the Zoo Master Plan
  • Lead BRZF staff members to achieve the goals of the BRZF by inspiring them through personal dedication to the organization, creating a work environment that attracts and retains top talent, developing staff through the mutual creation of personal and group goals, and identifying training needs and promote professional growth
  • Ensure the adequacy and soundness of the BRZF’s financial structure and review projections for BRZF’s working capital requirements
  • Develop, review, and monitor budgets to ensure efficient financial operations and stewardship of the organization
  • Manage and direct the day-to-day responsibilities of BRZF staff


Education and Experience Qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree in business management, nonprofit management, marketing, public relations, mass communication, or a related field is required, with a master’s degree in any of these fields considered a plus; a combination of experience and education that clearly demonstrates comparable knowledge, skills, and abilities may be suitable in lieu of a master’s degree
  • A minimum of five-to-seven years of professional experience in a related field demonstrating strong project management, administration, and capital fundraising abilities
  • Experience cultivating and managing relationships and leading effective fundraising at all gift levels, specifically large gifts
  • Experience managing and overseeing fundraising and sponsorship initiatives with measurable achievement towards goals


Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Able to motivate and support board members, staff, and partners to set and reach targeted annual fundraising and sponsorship goals
  • Strong management skills, emotionally intelligent, and self-aware with an ability to listen effectively to others and learn from their best ideas
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills and comfortable speaking in front of a public audience
  • Able to perform effectively under pressure and use strong organizational skills when faced with competing priorities
  • Able to develop and sustain productive and mutually beneficial working relationships with diverse stakeholders including board members, staff, public officials, foundations and community leaders
  • Able to foresee and evaluate potential issues with programs or initiatives and prepare alternative solutions
  • Possesses an inclusive, inspiring, and empowering leadership style that endorses teamwork, encourages an entrepreneurial culture, and promotes and open, transparent communication



The salary range for this position is $110,000 - $130,000, which is commensurate with experience. In addition to base compensation, a comprehensive benefits package will be provided.


How to Apply

Candidates should submit a resume with a cover letter and references to


Additional Information

The Baton Rouge Zoo Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. It does not discriminate against employees or applicants for employment on any legally recognized basis or any protected class under federal, state, or local law.