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Arizona Zoological Society announces organizational changes to support full pursuit of its mission.
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ARIZONA ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY ANNOUNCES ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES
TO SUPPORT FULL PURSUIT OF ITS MISSION
PHOENIX, Dec. 14, 2007 – The board of directors of the Arizona Zoological Society, which owns and operates the Phoenix Zoo, is making the following organizational changes so the society can be more aggressive in pursuing its full mission of ecosystem exhibition, education and conservation:
- Jeff Williamson, 60, who has served as president, chief executive officer and executive director of the Phoenix Zoo since 1996, becomes the full-time president of the Arizona Zoological Society. Williamson will be responsible for expanding the society's worldwide initiatives in conservation and for working with local, state, and federal government agencies to develop the resources needed for the society's strategic initiatives and growth. He will work with a variety of community and nongovernmental organizations within the Phoenix metropolitan area to promote the Valley of the Sun as a visitor destination.
- Bert Castro, 46, is being appointed president and chief executive officer of the Phoenix Zoo. Castro, who since 2001 has been executive director and chief executive officer of the Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden, will focus on strengthening the Phoenix Zoo's programs in education and animal exhibition while continuing to grow its reputation as the community's most outstanding destination attraction. Under his direction, the Phoenix Zoo also will continue its focus on conservation and the preservation of species, increasing its scope both nationally and globally.
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Both Williamson and Castro will report to the society's board of directors. Williamson's appointment is effective immediately. Castro is expected to assume his new duties on Feb. 1, 2008.
"This is an exciting moment in the history of the society, " said JoEllen Doornbos, chairperson of the board of the Arizona Zoological Society. "Although the society is less than 50 years old, we have created in the Phoenix Zoo a strong resource that brings families together and is second only to the Grand Canyon as a tourist destination in Arizona.
"At the same time, we increasingly are becoming a leader in worldwide conservation efforts. We're recognized around the world for saving the Arabian oryx from extinction, and we are highly involved in programs to help strengthen the world's populations of black-footed ferrets, Mexican wolves, Ramsey Canyon leopard frogs, thick-billed parrots and jaguars. Jeff and Bert will provide great leadership as we work to pursue the full scope of our mission."
The Arizona Zoological Society's mission is to inspire people to live in ways that promote the well-being of the natural world. The society will achieve excellence in ecosystem exhibition, education and conservation and will be a principal attraction for Phoenix-area residents and visitors.
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Jeff Williamson, 60, is president of the Arizona Zoological Society. Before assuming this role, he was president, chief executive officer and executive director of the Phoenix Zoo since August 1996. He joined the zoo as deputy director in 1993 after serving in the same capacity at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. He also has experience in city management positions in Brookfield, Ill., and Bloomington, Ill.
Williamson is a life-long conservationist who grew up on farms and has spent his career trying to integrate the interests of people and nature. An enthusiastic bicyclist, he has traveled widely and supports various youth programs and medical services for disenfranchised people. He is a founding member of the networking organization Be Outdoors Arizona, which is charged with reconnecting people to nature. He serves as a director on the boards of the Las Fuentes Medical Center in Guadalupe, Ariz.; Local First Arizona; the Cienega Watershed Partnership; and the Arizona Trust for Public Lands. He also is past president of the Papago Salado Association board.
Williamson holds a bachelor of science degree in agriculture and political science from Illinois State University. He also completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
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NORBERTO J. (BERT) CASTRO
Bert Castro, 46, has been appointed president and chief executive officer of the Phoenix Zoo. He joins the zoo from the Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden, where he has served as executive director and chief executive officer since 2001. Throughout his career, he has held positions of increasing responsibility at the San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, the Audubon Zoological Park in New Orleans, and the Tulsa Zoo.
Castro serves as chairman of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Committee of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). He has served on the AZA's National Diversity Committee and its Ethics Committee. He also is the immediate past chairman of the Zoo Conservation Outreach Group, a nonprofit organization that gives professional guidance and assistance to zoos in Central and South America. Castro has been active in many global conservation efforts, including the conservation and reintroduction of large carnivores in Zimbabwe and Andean condors in Argentina. He serves on the boards of the Oklahoma Museum Association and St. Gregory's University.
Castro holds an associate's degree in natural science from St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Okla.; a bachelor of science degree in zoology from Oklahoma State University; and a master of science degree from Friends University in Wichita, Kan.