Cleveland Zoo Society Executive Director Announces Retirement

Posted: October 25, 2018

Liz Fowler, Executive Director of the Cleveland Zoological Society, announced her retirement from the nonprofit organization at the end of January 2019.

Fowler joined the Cleveland Zoological Society in 1997 and has served as Executive Director since 2001. She and her husband, Tom, are moving to the East Coast to be near their daughter and extended family.

The Cleveland Zoological Society is the nonprofit partner of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo that works to secure private support for and public awareness of the Zoo as a civic gem and a top zoo in the nation. Fowler has been responsible for strategic and business planning, major gifts fundraising, government advocacy and staff management. In her 17 years as Executive Director, she has led the organization to raise more than $80 million in capital, operating and programmatic support.

While Fowler was Executive Director, the Zoo Society’s philanthropic contributions catalyzed significant campus changes, including the recent Asian Highlands, Rosebrough Tiger Passage and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Welcome Pavilion, as well as the Zoo’s first LEED-certified habitat (African Elephant Crossing), the first CT scanner in any United States zoo (Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine), the Circle of Wildlife Carousel and the Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter. The Zoo Society currently has endowments totaling more than $13 million.

Mike Vaughn, President of the Cleveland Zoological Society Board of Trustees, said the Board would lead a national search for Fowler’s replacement.

“There is no match for the passion and dedication Liz has shown for this organization, for Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, for the Cleveland community and for the larger zoo community through her extensive work with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums,” said Vaughn. “The Board wishes her and Tom the very best in their next chapter, and we are committed to continuing to serve and support the Zoo and the Cleveland community, building on the strong foundation Liz has established.”

In addition to her work at the Zoo Society, Fowler chairs the Government Affairs Committee for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, serves as a trustee and executive committee member of LAND Studio and is a member of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). She is an alumna of Leadership Cleveland and the Shannon Leadership Institute of the Wilder Foundation. A native of Berkeley, California, and graduate of Harvard University, Fowler and her husband currently reside in Shaker Heights.

“I have loved my years with the Zoo Society because of the loyal donors and friends I have met along the way, and the passion we share for connecting people with wildlife, advocating for animal welfare and conservation, and helping our partners at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo achieve their dreams,” said Fowler. “The transformation of the Zoo campus continues and is inspiring. The engagement with Cleveland families and students through informal science programs and our membership program continues to build. Our global reach and support for wildlife conservation continues to grow. In short, the future is bright, and I look forward to visiting and seeing progress in the years to come.”

Media contact: Sarah Crupi, Director of External Relations, Cleveland Zoological Society; (585) 415-4299 (c); (216) 635-3368 (o)

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