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Empathy Initiatives Director 



This position designs and leads the implementation of projects that develop empathy for animals and humans as a way to advance wildlife conservation outcomes.  These initiatives seek to engage and empower zoo audiences to save wildlife and habitat; build strong community collaborations to advance the zoo’s strategic goals; advance the creation of a network of zoos and aquariums that use empathy for animals as a way to create conservation opportunities; and develop measures of success for these programs. This position helps shape the research, implementation, evaluation and networking agenda at the intersection of animal welfare, perceptions of welfare and empathy; designs and implements studies that deepen and enhance free-choice learning; creates strategic community collaborations and partnerships; and identifies approaches to measure the effectiveness and impact of these programs. This position leads the empathy team and interacts with the zoo’s internal and external stakeholders to embed the projects’ findings and advance the creation of a social movement for conservation.


  • Lead and expand a network of zoos, aquariums, and other informal science institutions to advance wildlife conservation through empathy practices, training, and evaluation.
  • Establish the Woodland Park Zoo as the driver of a theory of change that describes the connections between animal welfare, public perceptions, social innovation, conservation psychology, and pro-environmental behavioral outcomes.
  • Create and strengthen local and regional community partnerships to implement this theory of change based on empathy for animals.
  • Oversee the evaluation, award, and reporting of a grant program that supports partner institutions to expand empathy initiatives at local, national, and international levels.
  • Disseminate learnings in different settings to both internal and external audiences using a variety of tools and methods.
  • Support and advance the capacity of a network of AZA institutions nationally to develop, implement, and evaluate programming that effectively fosters empathy for animals.
  • Serve as a member of the zoo's Senior Leadership team. Represent department in zoo management and planning meetings, events, professional meetings or media relations. Represent WPZ on external committees that serve to strengthen the zoo's position as a community leader.
  • Participate in strategic discussions regarding the zoo’s mission, identifying the top areas of need, how to make change, and how to quantitatively/qualitatively monitor change; continually ensure that research and evaluation findings are effectively used to inform decision-making.
  • Define, plan, develop, and implement research and implementation projects in collaboration with zoo leadership and staff.
  • Oversee the performance of the zoo’s empathy team and work with various zoo departments to incorporate evidence-based practices into learning experiences.
  • Conceptualize, write, present, and oversee fundraising opportunities in collaboration with the Development Department.
  • Build partnerships locally and nationally at agencies and institutions with common interests.
  • Develop and integrate goals and outcomes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of the work.
  • Manage the implementation, budget management, donor relations and deliverables of large grant-based projects.


  • Advanced degree or equivalent experience in biodiversity conservation, psychology, anthropology, sociology, social innovation, applied science, or similar relevant fields; and six (6) or more years combined education and experience in relevant project management and/or applied research; and/or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience as a thought leader within an organization; exploring and defining insights and communicating them.
  • Experience in maintaining a multi-institutional network of partners with common outcomes and interests.
  • Experience working collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders and individuals from all sectors of the community.
  • Experience integrating a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of work, including but not limited to, the evaluation of programs and projects as well as the development and management of people and partnerships.
  • Experience managing highly skilled and effective teams.
  • Fluency in social innovation, conservation psychology, free-choice learning, or advanced knowledge of similar fields.
  • Ability to communicate complex information in a way that is understandable and engaging to broad audiences in varied settings.
  • Ability to work effectively within diverse teams and environments. Identifies, cultivates, and maintains relationships with community leaders, partners organizations, and a wide empathy network.
  • Ability to evaluate problems and to effectively solve them in a timely manner.  Ability to respond to concerns with empathy and inclusivity.
  • Ability to delegate responsibilities, work with other, and coach employees to develop their full potential.
  • Ability to provide helpful, behaviorally specific feedback to others.  Ability to meet regularly with employees to review their development progress and express confidence in their abilities to be successful.
  • Ability to ensure strategic vision becomes alive through the departmental operations processes and policies.
  • Dedicated to shared and measurable goals for the common good by creating, resourcing, scaling, and leveraging strategies and innovations for broad investment and impact.
  • Ability to participate and/or initiate external team interaction, such as working with board committees, attending zoo events, and fundraising events. 
  • Excellent critical thinking and organizational skills.


  • Strategic, global, and creative thinker who is able to challenge current assumptions and isn’t afraid of pushing the boundaries and taking risks.
  • Experience in managing competitive grant awards processes and programs.
  • Creative, resourceful, and adaptive problem solver who is passionate about research, education theories, learning science, engagement, and community partnerships.


  • This position may be required to lift and/or move up to 30 pounds.
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to perform essential functions.


While performing the duties of this job, the employee is exposed to a typical office environment and outdoor weather conditions. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Want to know more? Read the full job description here!

Applicants must be at least 18 years old. A criminal background check will be required of the selected applicant.

Application Directions: Applications are accepted online through our Jobs Page at; no other forms of application will be accepted. Cover letter and resume are required.


Woodland Park Zoo is an equal opportunity employer, dedicated to a policy of non-discrimination in application and employment for any reason, including race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, national origin, age, disability or medical status including genetic information, and/or veteran’s status.

Woodland Park Zoo is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in all of its services. If you need accommodation in the application or interview process, please contact our recruiting team at

Full-Time/Part-Time Full-Time  
Exempt/Non-Exempt Exempt  
Req Number LEA-21-00009  
EOE Statement Woodland Park Zoo is an equal opportunity employer, dedicated to a policy of non-discrimination in application and employment for any reason, including race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, national origin, age, disability or medical status including genetic information, and/or veteran’s status.

This position is currently not accepting applications.

To search for an open position, please go to


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