2012 Executive Director of the Year Finalist: Elizabeth Fowler, executive director, Cleveland Zoological Society

Elizabeth Fowler, Executive Director, Cleveland Zoological Society

Since 2001, Elizabeth Fowler has been the executive director of the Cleveland Zoological Society, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to the top tier of zoos nationally. Under her leadership, the Zoo Society serves a membership of 46,500 households in Northeast Ohio, raises significant support for education, conservation and capital improvements and creates awareness of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as a major civic asset for the region.

The zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society share a mission to create compelling experiences that connect people with wildlife and inspire personal responsibility for conserving the natural world. In Fowler’s 11 years as executive director, she has doubled the society’s assets and generated consistent increases in annual operational and capital support for the zoo.

She successfully led the organization through two major capital campaigns within the last 10 years: $12 million for the African Elephant Crossing exhibit, which opened in 2011 and included $1 million for greening initiatives and a Kresge Challenge Grant. She also secured $5.5 million for the Sarah Alison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine in 2005 and the donation for the first CT scanner in any zoo in the world.

2011 proved to be a big year for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society. The successful completion of African Elephant Crossing caps nearly a decade of planning, design, fundraising and hard work. Since its opening on May 5 last year, African Elephant Crossing has delighted more than 1.3 million visitors, while providing a high-quality habitat for six elephants.

The impact of the new exhibit resonated across all programs in 2011. It helped the Cleveland Zoological Society surpass its ambitious capital campaign goal by 3 percent, earning a prestigious national challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation and helping ensure the successful launch of innovative education and conservation programs linked to the new exhibit.


How to reach: Cleveland Zoological Society, (216) 661-6500 or www.clevelandzoosociety.org