Vice President, Animal Health - Shedd Aquarium

Posted: 17 July 2022 | Full-Time | Chicago, United States 


Shedd Aquarium (“Shedd” or “the Aquarium”), one of the oldest and most highly respected aquariums in North America, seeks an outcome driven leader and compelling communicator to serve as its Vice President, Animal Health (“Vice President” or “VP”). This is a rare opportunity to provide leadership to a world-class animal care and welfare program at a transformational moment for the organization. Shedd is boldly planning for its centennial while remaining anchored in an exciting strategic mission focused on compassion for animals, curiosity about animals and their ecosystems, and conservation to protect wild species and wild spaces in an urbanizing world.

Role Profile

The Vice President supports the veterinary medical program, participates in the development of long-term strategic plans, and initiates findings from veterinary cases. They represent the aquarium to professional organizations, consult with animal care team members, and collaborate with other Vice Presidents within the Animal Care and Science Division to assure the highest quality of veterinary care and animal welfare at Shedd Aquarium.  

The Vice President plays a critical role in the implementation of the Centennial Commitment as does the entire Animal Health team. Accomplishing these ambitious goals, including transforming and modernizing the historic aquarium galleries while seeing to the safety and care of the animals,  will require strong leadership, understanding of critical pathways, and strategic management of resources within the Animal Care and Science Division. The VP will inspire the Animal Health team to see their efforts as part of the interdependent work of the entire aquarium. As a leader, the VP will clearly articulate the vision of the Aquarium so that goals and objectives are clearly defined, and that the Animal Health team is supported in meeting benchmarks of success.  

The Vice President must actively promote, through annual planning and strategic execution, connecting guests and the community with the animal world and deepening their understanding of the natural history and biology of the animals in Shedd’s care. They will relish adding value to the core guest experience; a participatory aquarium rich in animal encounters, with affirming calls to action and an “earth optimism” approach to conservation. The Vice President understands and acts on guest engagement as the core business and works closely with the Vice Presidents of Conservation Research and Animal Care to ensure animal care, health and on-site sciences works in concert with in-situ conservation research and programs.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Lead, direct, and support teams of talented, best in class animal health professionals with a focus on maintaining high performance standards, accountability, and supporting collaboration among and between departments;
  • Support Shedd Aquarium’s pioneering work in aquatic animal welfare, medicine, and conservation science,  as well as advancements in preventive care and treatment of animals;
  • Contribute to the development and execution of a strategy for ensuring the continuity of a robust living animal collection that meaningfully connects millions of visitors to the natural world; 
  • Continue to infuse a culture of high standards through compliance and monitoring, to mitigate risks throughout the division;
  • In close partnership with Animal Care lead team collaboration to ensure thriving animals and systems, a high-level of preparedness, and tremendous critical response in the oversight of hundreds of animals and ecosystems ranging from polar to tropical and salt to fresh waters;
  • In close partnership with Conservation lead team collaboration to advance animal health, integration of ex-situ and in-situ applied science, and acceleration of mission-aligned impact.
  • In coordination with Finance and Development, play an active role in responsibly managing resources, fundraising, and ensuring departments under their purview play an active role in efforts to model and encourage collaboration in these endeavors;
  • In close coordination with Learning and Community, Planning and Design, and External Communications, ensure team alignment to fulfill an incredible guest experience, promote brand awareness and public perception, and drive Aquarium attendance.


An Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine is required and attainment of licensure in the state of Illinois. Diplomate status in the American College of Zoological Medicine is preferred. In addition the VP must maintain a Drug Enforcement Agency registration at all times along with USDA APHIS federal accreditation.

While no one candidate will meet all the desired criteria, the successful candidate will bring most of the following qualifications and attributes:

  • At least 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, with at least five years of work with aquatic species, including marine mammals in a zoo, aquarium or rehabilitation environment.
  • At least 7 years of experience in a leadership position overseeing direct reports;
  • Experience executing multi-layered plans, projects, or initiatives across a complex organization;
  • Strong professional affiliations and presence within veterinary, research, conservation and other professional communities;
  • Contributions to professional publications;
  • Demonstrated history of implementing new ways of thinking and engagement while thinking strategically and tactically;
  • Deep understanding of resource management in terms of time, effort, budget and funding, and evidence of strategic decision making in allocation and tracking of resources; 
  • Demonstrated success in identifying, implementing, and monitoring multiple tactical moves needed to achieve a strategy and large measurable objectives (i.e. population management, animal acquisitions and transitions, facility improvements for animal care, etc.);
  • Proven skills as a senior leader, with the ability to mentor, inspire, and support, and to produce results consistent with the mission and vision;
  • Strong decision-making record related to financial, staff, policy, and other segments that impact the success of the overall enterprise;
  • Forward-thinking approach in addressing near- and long-term goals (both programmatic and financial);
  • Acute judgement: capacity to make and stand by decisions, mindful of the need for fairness and consistency, and the potential impact of each decision on individuals and the broader community;
  • A record of building and maintaining external relations and advancing an organization’s profile and reputation regionally, nationally, and internationally (experience in, or familiarity with, fundraising and media relations is also desirable); and
  • Vision and strategic collaborative leadership to advance Shedd toward its highest aspirations and goals.


  • Passion for and a commitment to serve Shedd Aquarium’s mission;
  • Strategic approach and mindset; 
  • A credible and engaging spokesperson; ability to represent the Aquarium’s work to scientists and non-scientists, leaders across various communities, and the public;
  • The Vice President of Animal Health will complement the Shedd culture. Driven to accomplish tasks with an enthusiastic approach; they will be firm but not too rigid in their approach. They will embody and live out Shedd’s values;
  • Goal-oriented yet flexible management style that respects the capabilities and independence of people, but also provides them with a clear sense of direction and accountability;
  • Genuine commitment to accessibility, diversity, and an appreciation for different perspectives, experiences, and traditions;       
  • Dynamic yet diplomatic leadership style: able to communicate clearly, galvanize teams toward a common goal, and lead within a complex, multifaceted organization;
  • Possessing the highest level of personal and professional integrity and quality standards;
  • The disposition of a natural collaborator, taking the lead by engaging in dialogue.

We strongly encourage people of color, LGBTQ+ community, veterans and active duty military, parents, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from all cultural backgrounds to apply. Shedd Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes everyone to our team.

If you need a reasonable accommodation at any point in the application or interview process, please let us know. In your application, please feel free to select which pronouns you use (For example – she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs).

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.

WAZA is a member of the following organisations:
© 2024 WAZA | All Rights Reserved | Legal Notice | Terms of Use | Sitemap | Privacy Policy | Design