Zoo Advisors Staff Biographies
Principal and Founder David Walsh is an expert at helping institutions understand and link business and financial strategies with enhanced experiences and facilities. His expertise was built through a successful career in the nonprofit, corporate, and entrepreneurial worlds, focusing on business management issues, finance, organizational dynamics, and governance. Over the course of a 30-year career, David has assisted more than 100 nonprofit clients – including 70 zoos and aquariums – with the development of strategic plans, marketing studies, financial planning, feasibility analyses, and governance studies. He's worked with a wide diversity of institutions across the country and internationally, having conducted projects in Canada, Central and South America, and the Mid-East.
David has conducted numerous workshops on strategic visioning, mission development, and opportunity identification for nonprofit boards, leadership teams, entire staff groups, and external stakeholders. He has also joined with design teams to link master planning with the financial and business aspects of a project. Prior to his work in the nonprofit arena, David launched a successful Internet-based travel business, which he built from an idea to a company serving thousands of customers nationwide. He also operated a consulting company that assisted corporate clients in managing the new product and business development process – including idea generation, market research, business planning, and product rollout. His corporate experience includes careers at PECO Energy, where he led the planning and implementation of several new businesses, and at Verizon Communications, where he identified emerging markets and promoted communication services. David has a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Scranton.
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Kathy Wagner applies 30 years of leadership to her role as a consultant. Her services include strategic planning, education and interpretive programming, organizational development, meeting facilitation, fundraising, grant writing, and evaluation. As Vice President for Conservation and Education at the Philadelphia Zoo, Kathy led her team in developing numerous award-winning programs.
She served as Project Director/Principal Investigator for three National Science Foundation grants and was the founder and leader of a four-museum collaborative, working with 12 different community partners. Kathy also expanded the Zoo’s international conservation program, instituted a sustainability initiative, and developed the Zoo’s first botanical collection plan. Her Zoo experience also extended to the area of visitor services and fundraising and development, where as interim Vice President, she managed all individual, corporate, capital, and major gifts functions. Kathy has consulted with zoos, museums, botanical gardens, interpretive centers, and other non- profits throughout the country and has served on community and professional boards, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Visitor Studies Association, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Awbury Arboretum Association, New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences; Kathy was also founding Chair of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Advisory Board. A graduate of Bucknell University, Kathy has a master’s degree from Villanova University and a certificate in management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Contact Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Zachary Winfield brings an expansive set of skills to Zoo Advisors gained through a multi-faceted career in the zoo, consulting, and business worlds. He has extensive experience conducting business analysis, membership and guest services assessments, marketing strategy,
and fundraising programs for zoos, aquariums, and other non-profit organizations.
Zach has special expertise in data analysis, reporting, and strategies. He focuses on guiding organizations through the process of choosing and implementing systems to integrate departments, remove silos, and maximize resources. In addition, his analytical background complements and supports the strategic and business planning initiatives for Zoo Advisors’ clients. With a deep and abiding love for data analysis, Zach is expert at extracting meaningful and actionable information from large datasets. He has spearheaded the creation of Zoo Advisors’ proprietary dataset, which overlays more than a decade of zoo industry performance and development data with economic, demographic, and climatological from a variety of other sources.
Zach found his niche as the Membership & Marketing Director at Reid Park Zoological Society in Tucson, AZ, where he oversaw the membership and marketing operations. He further developed his expertise as a consultant working with zoos, aquariums, and other non-profits throughout the United States. Zach is a graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.
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Sherrie Graham brings more than 35 years of hands-on non-profit executive and fundraising experience to our team. Over an extensive career, she has developed a depth of expertise in a range of critical areas including organizational development, board management, and team building. She has sat on ‘both sides of the desk,’ running an organization, but also providing expert counsel to Presidents, Development Staff, and Boards. She’s raised money, developed programs, and implemented plans, driving institutions to higher levels of achievement. Most recently she was the Director of Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. Hired as the Executive Director of the Potter Park Zoological Society, she crafted a successful public/private partnership between the Society and Ingham County, the government entity responsible for animal care and park maintenance and then was named Zoo Director. Shedding the past traditional bifurcated leadership, Potter Park was positioned to grow and flourish under Sherrie’s leadership. She built a strong, talented and cohesive management team that worked together to develop a long term strategic plan, expand the animal collection, add new exhibits and attractions, enhance the grounds, improve the guest experience, implement new education and conservation programs, initiate new events, communication, membership, and fund development strategies as well as improve employee morale and job satisfaction, Sherrie has served on numerous professional committees and boards and has spoken extensively around the country on Women in Leadership. Sherrie graduated from Adrian College with a BA in Elementary Education and Music and has done extensive graduate work in both education and leadership.
Denise Aster has a broad leadership background in the Attractions Industry stemming from her 32 years working for AZA accredited facilities. She has stewarded many departments to high levels of success over the last 15 years, including Animal Husbandry, Public Safety, Site Security, Guest Service, and Visitor Experience. Denise’s service and expertise include project management, risk management, asset protection, facility operations, organizational restructure, box office operations, standard operating procedures and policies, AZA accreditation, and business management.
As the Attractions Director at Adventure Aquarium, Denise routinely analyzed the results and principle components of daily operation and systematically corrected conditions in order to reach established objectives. She elevated the guest experience and has contributed by improving Net Promoter Scores.
In addition, Denise led the startup of many new and novel attractions, expansions, and grand openings. These operational experiences have given her a unique understanding of guest expectations and how to improve on the visitor experience.
Denise has been on the AZA accreditation inspection team for 15 years and has served as a mentor for facilities seeking accreditation.
Eric Miller, DVM, Senior Counsel to Zoo Advisors, brings 35 years of experience as a seasoned zoo executive and veterinarian to our team. Eric rose through the ranks at the world-renowned Saint Louis Zoo to become Senior Vice President and Director of Zoological Operations. Eric offers ZA’s clients his extensive conservation mission perspectives as well as strategic advice on a wide range of issues facing today’s zoos. He has an amazing depth of knowledge the team address questions surrounding animal welfare and wellness. Eric expands Zoo Advisors’ international reach and broadens our focus on local and global conservation issues.
Dr. Miller was integral to the founding and design of the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute, the umbrella organization for the Saint Louis Zoo’s field conservation work. During his tenure, Eric was part of the leadership team that opened many of the Zoo’s award winning exhibits.
Dr. Miller completed a residency in zoo animal medicine at the Saint Louis Zoo/University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. He also is past president of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and the American College of Zoological Medicine, and has been a board member of AZA as well as an active member of WAZA. Throughout his career, Eric has provided advice and counsel to many US and international zoos including Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the Luanda (Angola), Rain Forest Zoo (Papua New Guinea), and Los Angeles Zoo.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org