October 9, 2015

Thanks for the Memories!

With this year’s AZA conference now in the rear-view mirror, here’s a quick recap of our experience. It was definitely a conference to remember.

Both sessions moderated by Zoo Advisors staff were packed to the gills! There wasn’t an empty seat to be found in David Walsh’s Leadership & Board Development session, nor at Kathy Wagner’s Women in Leadership. In fact, attendees lined the back walls, aisles, and floors in both sessions. Zoo Advisors took advantage of a new audience participation technology that enabled interaction between speakers, moderators, and attendees. It gave us, and everyone in the audience, incredible insights into what was on peoples’ minds. There were definitely some surprises, like, ‘the real challenges for women in zoos and aquariums’ and ‘what you really think of your board’.  We’ll be sharing the findings here soon.

Zoo Advisors’ analyst Zachary Winfield, in partnership with Jessica Harrington (President of The Harrington Agency) co-hosted a Monday-morning breakfast for membership staff. Attendees from zoos and aquariums large and small swapped stories, tricks, and best-practices about their renewal programs. There is good work happening to retain members but also opportunities for improvement with technology tools that are making it easier. It reinforced for us the need to provide opportunities for you to connect with your peers in both facilitated and informal discussions. You all have so much to share. We want to hear more from you.

Of course it’s not all work. Our favorite part of the conference is always spending quality time with our peers. Zoo Advisors hosted three fantastic social events in our effort to bring together the Industry leaders, the movers and shakers, and the up and comers together over good food, drink, and conversation.

Our annual Women’s Leadership Dinner had the most attendees ever as female CEOs, Presidents, and Executive Directors of AZA institutions from all over the world (yes, Hong Kong was represented) enjoyed some of Salt Lake’s finest Italian pastas and wines but most importantly got the chance to share stories of successes and challenges with their peers. Sometimes it can be lonely at the top and having a colleague to listen is just what one needs.

As conference sponsors, we were pleased to be able to attend the Director’s Dinner at Tracy Aviary. What a brilliant gem right in downtown Salt Lake. Over the last decade there has been a huge transformation in the institution; it’s really amazing to see. Special thanks to Tim Brown, Scott Lyttle and their team for hosting a wonderful evening.

We were also proud to once again recognize the outstanding work our AZA support organizations by bringing together over 15 Directors and Board members. Zoo Advisors along with GLMV Architecture co-sponsored the 4th annual Support Director’s Dinner, where steak, seafood, and war stories were passed around by leaders of Societies and Friends support organizations from around the AZA industry. As always it was a fun and informative evening with lots of new connections made.

Let’s not forget Zoo Day! Utah’s Hogle Zoo hosted, and what can we say but WOW! From its happy, helpful staff to its first-rate habitats, Hogle is an organization that we can all aspire to. A huge thank you to the Hogle Zoo team who hosted an unforgettable day.

Stay tuned to Zoo Advisors through our webpage, LinkedIn, and Twitter for more learnings and ideas on how to make your organization an even greater success.

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