Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


The Organization

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (the “Zoo”) is home to more than 9,000 animals representing over 500 species, as well as over 1,000 species of plants. The Zoo is one of just a handful in the United States with a substantial, stand-alone aquarium.

The Zoo was founded in 1898 and will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2023. In 1994, the Zoo was privatized and is currently owned and operated by the Zoological Society of Pittsburgh, a 501(c)(3) organization.

During the past decade, the Zoo has supported over 245 conservation projects in over 60 countries. The program particularly encourages field studies and cross-disciplinary approaches to conservation. The Zoo participates in animal rescue programs and operates a fully equipped veterinary hospital. In addition, the Zoo owns and operates the 1,000-acre International Conservation Center, a conservation, research, education, breeding, and training facility that specializes in the care and breeding of African elephants.

The Zoo has an annual operating budget in excess of $22 million and enjoys an average attendance of close to one million visitors annually, making it the highest attended cultural attraction in the region. In addition to generous support from the Allegheny Regional Asset District and ongoing support from the major foundations in Pittsburgh, the Zoo generates earned income from admissions, gift shop and restaurant sales, and event rentals, and receives support from members and individual donors.

The Zoo is brimming with energy as it welcomed President & CEO Jeremy Goodman in October 2021, just the 2nd individual to serve in the role since privatization. The Board of Directors recently approved a new five-year strategic plan and at the direction of Dr. Goodman is currently undertaking the development of a new 20-year, visionary masterplan that will transform the Zoo’s campuses. Executive and Board leadership are deeply committed to the vitality and sustainability of this great community asset for the Pittsburgh region and have prioritized building a best-in-class development and external relations program.

Position Overview

Amid this backdrop of energetic leadership and forward-looking investment, the Zoo seeks candidates for the newly created position of Chief Advancement Officer (CAO), signaling the elevation and prioritization of advancement initiatives as the Zoo enters a transformational period in its evolution. Reporting to the President & CEO, the CAO will lead the Zoo’s newly created Advancement Office comprising Development, Government Affairs, Marketing & Communications, and Creative Services. This key leader is responsible for the strategic direction and ensuring efficient execution of the following, thereby ensuring all divisions meet or exceed goal metrics/key performance indicators:

  • all fundraising programs and related services, inclusive of annual fund, individual major gifts, foundation and corporate relations, special events, member services, and advancement services
  • representing and advancing the Zoo’s government relations agenda at local and state levels in the areas of conservation, activities policy, funding, and wildlife care
  • a comprehensive and coordinated marketing and communications strategy to advance the Zoo’s brand and mission on an organization-wide scale, including media relations, social media campaigns, and community engagement and events, in addition to private events and group sales management
  • creative services to develop Zoo advertisements and other design content utilized by the Advancement Office and fellow Zoo units

The CAO will support the President & CEO in furthering the Zoo’s mission, vision, and values across all internal and external constituencies.

The CAO, in collaboration with the President & CEO, will lead a new era of strategic engagement and philanthropic achievement. The core charge of the CAO will be to chart a more strategic course for Zoo advancement infrastructure and activities during their continued expansion, while formalizing and sustaining a modern, data-driven, and major-gifts-focused development program that meets the ongoing needs of the organization. The CAO will lead the Zoo in cultivating a culture of philanthropy that permeates all areas of the organization, as well as developing an active lens for both donor-centric and community-centric fundraising approaches. This leader will actively partner with colleagues across the Zoo community to model and advance its commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.

The CAO will manage a current team of approximately 15 professionals and will be tasked with recruiting additional development team members. The team is expected to grow further through phased expansion as the Advancement Office continues to evolve. The CAO will be empowered to create a best-in-class department in consultation with the President & CEO.

While Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following qualifications/experience:

  • Passion for conservation, wildlife, and the mission of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Ability to authentically engage and inspire others as a senior representative of the organization.
  • Minimum of 12 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 (planning, execution, closure), donor and board relations, stewardship, events, and development operations. Demonstrated success in change management and in setting and achieving ambitious philanthropic goals.
  • Knowledge of and fundamental adherence to the principles, ethics, and best practices of modern advancement, including the integration of various giving and external relations programs to engage stakeholders, cultivate interest and commitment, and diversify and grow the funding base.
  • Demonstrated commitment to and understanding of how to build diversity, equity, and inclusion in the advancement 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 advancement professionals and contribute to the ongoing fostering of a high-functioning, results-oriented, multi-racial/multi-ethnic workforce.
  • Demonstrated success in developing a strong and winning case for support, successful communications plan, and 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 board/volunteer leaders on advancement-related activities.
  • 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.
  • Demonstrated ability in planning and executing integrated, strategic marketing and communications in support of achieving constituency engagement, fundraising, event, programmatic, branding, or other organizational goals. A functional understanding of how to effectively leverage various communication mediums and distribution channels for optimal exposure and impact.
  • A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods of constituent engagement and connectivity.
  • Demonstrated ability to integrate data into decision-making and strategy development.
  • Working knowledge of modern data management practices and innovations that can streamline advancement processes and contribute to the integration of related functions.
  • Flexibility to travel.

Please note that all new hires must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer.

How To Apply

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium 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
gerard.cattie@divsearch.com | 212.542.2587

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