Zoo Atlanta’s President and CEO Dennis Kelly has been named Director of Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., effective February 15, 2010. After a nationwide search Dennis Kelly will leave Zoo Atlanta to oversee operations for a 163-acre facility in Rock Creek Park and a 3,200-acre Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Virginia.
"This is a bittersweet announcement for me," said Mickey Brown, Chairman of Zoo Atlanta’s Board of Directors. "It’s been an honor to work with Dennis, his talent, business acumen and foresight has helped Zoo Atlanta become a world class zoo."
Since his tenure at Zoo Atlanta, Dennis Kelly has spearheaded groundbreaking projects such as the 25- year master plan, renegotiation of a new giant panda agreement (the details of the new agreement will be released in the upcoming weeks pending the close of the Give So They Stay campaign and final approvals in China), state of the art capital improvement projects, as well as the creation of a fiscally sound zoological institution. He raised more than $40 million in both public and private funds for Zoo Atlanta during his six-year tenure.
As president of Zoo Atlanta for the past six years, Kelly enhanced the institution’s scientific and animal welfare programs and visitor experience and rebuilt its marketing, government relations and fundraising capabilities. Kelly also provided the environment and resources for important scientific and conservation work by the Zoo’s staff, including collaboration with National Zoo scientists on giant panda breeding and conservation. Under his leadership, Zoo Atlanta strengthened its education programs and assisted in developing education departments in dozens of zoos in China.
"I am excited about Dennis’ new position with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo," said Brad Benton, incoming Chairman of Zoo Atlanta’s Board of Directors. "This is a testament to the talent and expertise of one of the nation’s top zoos. He has left an indelible mark not only on Zoo Atlanta but also the City of Atlanta."
Zoo Atlanta’s master plan will continue as planned. The talented members of the senior leadership team will oversee the day to day operations of the organization while the Board of Directors implements a nationwide search.
Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. After serving in the military, Kelly held positions with Procter & Gamble and Touche Ross & Co. He worked at The Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta from 1982 to 1999, serving in various positions. In 1997, Kelly was appointed chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola Europe, overseeing marketing efforts for flagship and local brands in those markets. In 1999, Kelly joined Green Mountain Energy Co. as president and soon after was named CEO. During his tenure, the company’s annual sales grew from $60,000 to $250 million.
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