Jim Dean will be stepping down as President and CEO of the Memphis Zoo on June 16th, 2022, making way for current Executive Director and Vice President, Matt Thompson. In 2019, the Zoo's board of directors signed Dean to a three-year contract.
"It was an honor and a privilege to be able to come back home to Memphis and be a part of this amazing team and help in the splendid work that they do every day, " said Dean. Dean brought his expertise from his previous leadership roles at large amusement attractions to financially strengthen the Memphis Zoo and increase operations. Executive Vice President and Zoo Director Matt Thompson said, "Jim had a keen attention to guest experience and appearance of the zoo that significantly impacts guest’s view of the zoo as soon as they walk through the front gates. He also impacted the internal experience for the employees in many ways, most importantly though, he increased communication between departments across the entire zoo."
Dean also had a passion for connecting the Memphis Zoo organization with the community. He served on the board of directors for Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) and lead many diplomatic conversations and initiatives with the City of Memphis. Most notably, Jim worked very closely with OPC on the revised parking plan. As we continue to finalize the new agreement between the City of Memphis and Overton Park, Jim will remain involved to see the project through. The Memphis Zoological Society is thankful for Dean's leadership and friendship and wish him all the happiness in his retirement.
Matt Thompson will be moving into the role of president and CEO, bringing with him a 26-year history with the Memphis Zoo. Thompson has grown from a zookeeper to holding many different leadership roles at the zoo. As president and CEO, Thompson will bring a passion for the animals at the Memphis Zoo, as he embodies the Zoo’s mission of Creating Adventures and Saving Wildlife.