Director of Development


Director of Development

Buffalo Zoo (Buffalo, NY)

The Buffalo Zoo is seeking an entrepreneurial and experienced Director of Development whose values and accomplishments align with the Zoo’s intentional paradigm of collaborative leadership, dynamic improvement and creative impact.

Our Vision and Values
Collaborating for Change: The Buffalo Zoo will be a center of conservation excellence, providing leadership to secure a future where wildlife thrives.

We Embody our Mission and Values

  • We are One Team
  • We Welcome All
  • We Have Integrity
  • We Care
  • We Go Above and Beyond


Our History, Philosophy and Future
Originally conceived as a deer park in the northeast corner of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park, the Buffalo Zoo (established in 1875) is the third-oldest institution of its kind in the United States. It is the most-visited cultural attraction in Western New York and the second most-visited tourist attraction in the region, welcoming nearly 500,000 guests each year. Distinctly, we are both a regional leader and attraction as well as a conservation center of excellence, dedicated to saving wildlife and wildplaces. We inspire visitors to respect, protect and restore natural habitats for wildlife.

Over the decade which followed its founding, major renovations took place and featured buildings using classic period architecture. In 1973, operational responsibilities for the Zoo were turned over from the City of Buffalo to the Zoological Society.  Since 2000 nearly $50 million of new and renovated capital improvements have been accomplished to both exhibitory and infrastructure.  These include a new guest entry complex, artic edge polar bear habitat, heritage farm with breeds of domestic animals, sea lion cove, rainforest falls and otter creek. The next renovation will be the renovation of the historic reptile house.

Our philosophy is to exhibit animals and plants in ecological habitats and geographical arrangements that represent the biomes of the world. Current programs focus on providing guests with a better understanding of the natural world, as well as how animals relate to each other, to their environment and to humankind. Our mission is building community, creating connections and saving wildlife.

The future is what guides us.  We are a progressive Zoo, always looking forward.

Purpose and Scope of the Director of Development Position
To support the Buffalo Zoo in its mission, the Director of Development will be responsible for successfully expanding, leading, and implementing a comprehensive development program.  The Director of Development will develop new relationships while stewarding and growing existing ones, as well as building the Zoo’s visibility, impact and philanthropic resources.  The Director of Development will be responsible for raising private, corporate, foundation and government funding to support the Zoo’s initiatives while leading the development and implementation of organization-wide strategies to increase fundraising capacity.  Additionally, this position will be responsible for a key role in the Zoo’s future capital campaign. 

The ideal candidate brings strategic leadership experience to understand the mission and vision of the Zoo and engages others (e.g. visitors, donors, staff and community leaders) in advancing its mission through their meaningful contribution of gifts and talents as well as advocacy of the Zoo within their own circles of influence, relationships, communities and beyond.  Reporting to the Chief External Relations Officer, the Director of Development is a member of the management team and provides leadership and oversight to all members of the development team.

The successful candidate possesses both demonstrated experience in essential elements of a full-spectrum, comprehensive development program, as well as the attributes of a dynamic, energetic and polished leader who will bring enthusiasm and zeal to the position. This commitment extends to a willingness to partner effectively in a hands-on way with colleagues in a fast-paced environment.



  • Bachelor’s degree; MA (preferred)
  • Professional certification (CFRE), a plus
  • A minimum of five years in planning and executing development programs
  • Competence in MS Office; experience with Raiser’s Edge preferred
  • Effective and persuasive writing
  • Possess the desire and ability to get out of the office and build external relationships
  • Strong presentation skills and ability to engage others and inspire confidence
  • Knowledge of and experience in the Western New York philanthropic community.
  • Valid driver’s license.

To Apply:
This search is being conducted by the Executive Search Division of Ruotolo Associates Inc.  Inquiries regarding this position are strictly confidential and should be directed to: [email protected] with Buffalo Zoo – Director of Development as the subject line.  Interested applicants are requested to submit a resume and cover letter with salary range by November 8, 2021.  References will be requested of all finalists.

The Buffalo Zoo is an equal opportunity employer.