Zoos Hiring

Job board dedicated to the zoo industry

Chief Operating Officer

Detroit Zoological Society
Royal Oak, United States Posted: May 01, 2024



The DZS is in search of a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who will be responsible for supervising all construction, facilities, capital projects, and campus planning aspects of the organization. The COO will work under the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to ensure efficient and effective operation of the society. The role requires the COO to work in collaboration with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director/CEO, the Executive Leadership Team, and the Senior Leadership Team in fulfilling their responsibilities. The COO will supervise six direct reports in the areas of Facilities, Security, Construction Projects and Sustainability.


The DZS is currently working on a Campus Master Plan that will guide the society's development and growth of physical facilities for the next decade or more. The plan aims to bring the mission, vision, and values of the DZS to life and create memorable experiences for all guests.


The DZS has developed a unique green roadmap named the "Greenprint," which is an evolving plan that guides operations and helps refine and improve facilities and daily practices, develop new policies and programs, and improve green literacy and action in the community. You can learn more about the Greenprint here: Detroit Zoological Society Greenprint.


This opportunity is perfect for those with construction oversight experience who strongly believe in collaboration with people and the natural environment.




·        Establishes, implements, and communicates the strategic direction of the organization’s physical plant facilities and grounds division, with close coordination with the Chief Experience Officer.

·        Collaborates with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to develop and meet organizational goals while supplying expertise and guidance on operations, projects, and systems.

·        Collaborates with other divisions and departments to carry out the organization's goals and objectives.

·        Identifies, recommends, and implements new processes, technologies, and systems to improve and streamline organizational processes and use of resources and materials.

·        Ensures that departmental decisions and project plans such as those for staffing, development, organization, material efficiency, hardware acquisitions, and facilities are in line with the organization's business plan, its diversity, access, and inclusion goals, and its mission and vision.

·        Establishes, communicates, and implements effective and consistent operations-related policies, practices, standards, and security measures.

·        Reviews and approves cost-control reports, cost estimates, and staffing requirements for projects.

·        Establishes and administers the department's budget. Supports financial planning, reporting, controls, and related systems for various areas of responsibility and ensures that these processes coordinate with the overall organization.

·        Helps prioritize the management and use of funds to align with the organization's vision, mission, and strategic plan.

·        Presents periodic performance reports and metrics to the CEO, Board of Directors, and other leadership.

·        Maintains knowledge of emerging technologies and trends in operations management.

·        Oversees the execution of internal projects and events, including the development, implementation, and execution of the Strategic and Annual Work Plans.

·        Works collaboratively with ELT members to develop, implement, and communicate necessary institutional policies and procedures.

·        Works with Park Operations and Experiences staff to ensure that the physical offerings of the organization meet the current and future needs of animals, guests, and employees.

·        Ensures that the maintenance and upkeep of the parks, buildings, and amenities are sufficient to maintain operational excellence, aesthetics, ambiance, and cosmetic acceptance.

·        Responsible for maintaining the properties of the DZS to all AZA and AAM accreditation standards, USDA Standards for animals, and any state and regional standards.




·        Bachelor’s degree in a related field and/or at least 10 years of industry-related experience, including three years in construction project management. Master’s degree is preferred.

·        Management experience as a COO or as an executive manager in a nonprofit organization preferred.

·        Successful experience managing a complex organizational and financial structure.

·        Supervisory and leadership skills.

·        Verbal and written communication skills.

·        Knowledge of zoo principles, procedures, and best practices.

·        Organizational skills and attention to detail.

·        Analytical and problem-solving skills.

·        Experience and/or ability to work with a volunteer Board of Directors.

·        Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite or related software.


Research shows that women and people from underrepresented groups often apply to jobs only if they meet 100% of the qualifications. We recognize that it is highly unlikely that someone meets 100% of the qualifications for a role. If much of this job description describes you, then please apply for this position.




The current salary range for this position is $168,058 - $199,009. Generous benefits are offered, including medical, prescription, vision and dental insurance, disability plans, and a 401(k)-match plan.




Email cover letter, résumé or curriculum vitae, and names of three references with contact information to: Ida Tomlin, Senior Search Consultant at: searchandref@museum-search.com. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant, and all applications and nominations are kept confidential. Application deadline is May 17, 2024. Nominations and inquiries welcome.




Just as we value and celebrate biodiversity, the Detroit Zoological Society celebrates the diversity of our human community. We are committed to ensuring that our programs and facilities are fully accessible to our diverse communities and audiences and that our staff and volunteers reflect the multicultural fabric that is the strength of southeast Michigan.


Be the First to Know About Similar Jobs

Your next opportunity could be an email away. Let us make your job search easier. Join our email list now.