Chicago, Illinois

Vice President of Development, Lincoln Park Zoo

The Organization

Lincoln Park Zoo is a privately managed, free-to-visit 501(c)(3) that is funded primarily by individual contributions, grants, and earned revenue. The zoo employs about 300 full-time and seasonal workers, and its operating budget hovers around $34 million annually.

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos, yet one of the most progressive. It is a hub for youth programs and learning, and also a collection of university-style science centers. The zoo cares for plants and animals that live on its grounds, as well as leads boots-on-the-ground conservation work in Chicago and beyond to protect their counterparts in the wild. Lincoln Park Zoo is a leader among zoos and aquariums, but always strives to do better.

Guided by the three programmatic pillars of Care, Community, and Conservation (and a fourth, internal “C,” Culture), zoo staff works every day to build a better world for wildlife, one another, and the planet. The tagline, “For Wildlife. For All.” drives business decisions; Lincoln Park Zoo is passionate about wildlife and about being free and open to all, 365 days a year.

Lincoln Park Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program.

Position Overview

The past couple of years have been among of the most challenging and inspiring years in the history of Lincoln Park Zoo. The unwavering support and dedication of members, staff, volunteers, and friends have helped the zoo find its way through a maze of twists and turns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the zoo is prouder than ever to continue putting science first and seeking data-driven solutions for decision-making and operations. From individual animal welfare to conservation projects, from a zoo reopening to the public to the new Pepper Family Wildlife Center featuring a state-of-the-art habitat for lions and refreshed housing for other big cats and mammals, the zoo continues to enhance and expand its presence in Chicagoland and throughout the world of conservation and science. The zoo has striven for that presence to be a welcoming one and long championed inclusion by prioritizing free admission, and it is committed to an ongoing process of creating a more inclusive guest and staff experience.

Under the visionary leadership of its first female and first scientist President & CEO, Megan Ross, Ph.D., the zoo now stands poised to embark on a strategic and campus planning process to chart its ongoing preeminence, which will inform a forthcoming capital campaign.

Amid this backdrop of excellence and forward-looking investment, Lincoln Park Zoo seeks candidates for Vice President of Development (Vice President). The Vice President oversees the Development department and all fundraising, membership, board relations, and government affairs for the institution. They will serve as the chief strategist and ambassador for all fundraising initiatives, including special and capital campaigns, and work closely with other zoo leaders to achieve short and long-term fundraising goals. The Development department supports the President & CEO in advancing the zoo’s mission, vision, and values within the organization, greater community, and globally.

The Vice President of Development will be a senior member of Lincoln Park Zoo’s administrative team, working cohesively with senior leadership and departments across the zoo. They should have a passion for wildlife conservation and experience leading a large department that raises $20-$25 million in annual revenue comprised of membership, annual giving, major and planned giving, corporate, foundation and board relations, including the Board of Trustees, Women’s, and Auxiliary Boards. The new leader, in collaboration with the President & CEO, will take the zoo’s development department into a new era with enhanced board and donor engagement, sophisticated data and financial management, and by identifying new sustainable sources of revenue. The Vice President will manage the team of approximately 20 professionals to meet annual revenue and donor engagement goals.


While Lincoln Park Zoo will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following qualifications/experience.

– Passion for conservation, wildlife, and the mission of Lincoln Park Zoo. Ability to authentically engage and inspire others as a senior representative of the organization.

– Minimum of 10 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, serving in roles with progressive levels of responsibility, including experience with the following: individual giving, institutional giving, major gifts, annual giving/membership, planned giving, capital campaign, donor and board relations, stewardship, events, and development operations.

– Knowledge of and fundamental adherence to the principles, ethics, and best practices of modern fundraising, including the integration of various giving programs to diversify the funding base and cultivate greater donor commitments.

– Demonstrated commitment to and understanding of how to build diversity, equity, and inclusion in the development function; culturally competent with respect to issues such as racial, cultural, religious, sexual, and gender identity.

– Minimum of seven years in management roles with increasing responsibilities. Ability to lead, recruit, evaluate, and develop a diverse team of development professionals and contribute to the ongoing fostering of a high-functioning, results-oriented, multi-racial/multi-ethnic workforce. Track record of managing projects, program and staff resources, and budgets judiciously and resourcefully, while maintaining clear goals and shared accountability.

– Demonstrated success in developing a strong and winning case for support, as well as a successful communications plan, and in making strategic, innovative fundraising plans, and executing those plans to grow fundraising and exceed goals. Demonstrated experience cultivating, training, building relationships with, and working in collaboration with executives, senior staff, and volunteer leaders on development-related activities.

– Previous experience partnering with leadership to set strategies, establish priorities and goals for both annual and capital campaigns.

– Successful track record of personally identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts from individual and institutional donors at the level of six to seven-figures and greater.

– Capable of extracting and analyzing data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process. Working knowledge of computer software and modern data management practices and innovations that can streamline advancement processes and contribute to the integration of related functions. Experience with Raiser’s Edge and/or Salesforce desirable.

– Understanding of the players, strategies, and trends relevant to the Chicago philanthropic community.

– Flexibility to travel, consistent with public health guidelines.

– Bachelor’s degree; comparable combination of education, experience, or training that would provide the level of knowledge, skills, and ability required may qualify an individual.

How To Apply

Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to an environment that is inclusive and welcoming. We celebrate the diverse qualities, perspectives, values and experiences of all people. For Wildlife. For All.

Lincoln Park Zoo has retained the DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice of the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director and DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice Leader
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building,
405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor,
New York, New York 10174 | 212.542.2587

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