Dennis W. Kelly
Director, National Zoo
Dennis W. Kelly is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., effective Feb. 15. Kelly oversees the 163-acre facility in Rock Creek Park and the 3,200-acre Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. Kelly was the president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta in Georgia beginning June 2003.
At the National Zoo, Kelly is responsible for the operations of the public Zoo in Washington, which has nearly 2 million visitors a year, and manages the Zoo’s research programs, including groundbreaking work by Zoo scientists in conservation biology around the world. He oversees the fundraising and education programs coordinated by the Zoo’s membership organization, Friends of the National Zoo. The Zoo has more than 450 full-time staff, including keepers, curators and scientists, and a combined budget for fiscal year 2010 of $69 million. In addition to a major renovation and expansion of its Asian elephant exhibit, the Zoo is in the beginning stages of a multiyear master plan to help it achieve its mission of providing leadership in animal care, science, education and sustainability.
As president of Zoo Atlanta for six years, Kelly enhanced that institution’s scientific and animal welfare programs and visitor experience and rebuilt its marketing, government relations and fundraising capabilities. He raised more than $40 million in public and private funds for Zoo Atlanta during his six-year tenure. 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.
Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. 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.
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