Brookfield, IL

Senior Vice President of Development, Chicago Zoological Society

The Organization

Brookfield Zoo typically welcomes more than two million visitors annually, ranking it among the top five zoos in the country in attendance and making it Illinois’ most visited cultural institution (of those that charge admission). Open to the public every day of the year, the Zoo is a remarkably beautiful and well-maintained 235-acre park, 20 minutes from downtown Chicago. It is currently home to a diverse, encyclopedic collection of more than 2,700 animals representing 413 species (mammals 346 individuals, 92 species; birds-1,062 individuals, 96 species; reptiles 339 individuals, 115 species; amphibians 260 individuals, 29 species; and fish 365 individuals, 81 species). In addition, CZS is certified as an arboretum, represented by more than 500 native and exotic plant species.

Position Overview

The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which operates Brookfield Zoo, a well-established and world-renowned 235-acre zoological park and conservation center, seeks a new Senior Vice President of Development (SVP).

The SVP will contribute to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by reporting and working closely with the Society President and CEO. The SVP will help facilitate and foster a culture of philanthropy that assures fundraising success and strategically advances the CZS’s future. This new leader will develop and implement overall plans and strategies to advance the institution including, but not limited to: building the membership base, identifying, creating and strengthening external relationships and partnerships to benefit the organization, and securing philanthropic support for the CZS.

The SVP will be a member of a collaborative leadership team and will be expected to contribute to making institutional decisions, setting priorities, reviewing plans and developing policies and practices, in accordance with the CZS’s strategic goals for fundraising. The SVP will work closely with the President and CEO and members of CZS’ Board of Trustees in setting fundraising strategies and priorities that will help to realize the collective vision for the future of the Brookfield Zoo.

The SVP will have overall leadership responsibility development goals through the management of a development team and a portfolio that encompasses all development program areas: membership, major and planned gifts, donor society clubs, corporate engagement, outreach, philanthropic partnerships, data management and analytics, campaign gifts, events and women’s board and finance, operations and services. The SVP will be the principal architect and director of all development activities. This will require strong coordination with marketing and communication colleagues to ensure the CZS’s messages are aligned with the institution’s overall communications strategy.

The new SVP will have an exemplary background of demonstrated success in building relationships as well as leading a modern, complex development effort. Other essential qualities include exemplary interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic, personal integrity, belief in accountability and excellent communication skills. It will be important that this leader be a strategic thinker who can execute the plan, as well as, the ability to build positive rapport and work effectively with a diverse and wide range of constituencies. The successful candidate should have a proven track record in fundraising and comprehensive knowledge of all major advancement functions, including the ability to solicit and close major gifts.

The Chicago Zoological Society is an Equal Opportunity Employer and considers all applicants without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability that does not preclude performance of essential job duties, or any other status protected by law. The Society supports and promotes workforce diversity and strives to foster a work environment of respect and inclusiveness where the contributions of all workers are valued and recognized.  All employee are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted, unless they request and receive a religious or a medical exemption.

How To Apply

All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the leadership profile found at Application materials should be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal. Nominations and inquiries can be directed to Mercedes Chacòn Vance and Lauren Bruce-Stets at

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