“Only Those with Vision, Passion, and Tremendous Fortitude Need Apply...” The Role of President and CEO (and Mom) in Today’s Zoos and Aquariums
Dr. Barbara Baker is President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and its International Conservation Center. From that position, she leads one of the nation’s major zoological parks of 77 acres and an animal collection of over 9,000 animals. Dr. Baker has an ideal combination of management and scientific training, with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Auburn University and a Master’s in Business Administration, majoring in marketing, from the University of South Carolina. She began her career as an intern at the Bronx Zoo, was Associate Veterinarian at the Lincoln Park Zoo, then Director of Animal Health and Research at the Riverbanks Zoo, working as a zoo veterinarian for 8.5 years. Dr. Baker has led the Pittsburgh Zoo for 24 years, one of only three veterinarians in the top role in the country. Dr. Baker has seven children, six who joined the family through older child adoption.
What is required to be successful in the role of President and CEO or Director of a major zoo? Passion, passion, passion, strong drive, vision to see what isn’t there yet, ability to persevere against all odds, and strong leadership skills, just to name a few.
And can you balance the role with a happy and involved family life? Of course you can, if you also have strong organizational skills, tremendous energy reserves, coaching skills, laugh a lot, and have a great empowered team at the zoo.
With enthusiasm and humor, Dr. Baker will share her insights into what someone in her role actually does, and how one can balance the responsibilities of wife, mother, and the top job at a zoo.