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Advisory Board

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s board members provide advice, fundraising assistance, and promote the institute’s conservation activities around the world. 

Dawn Arnall

Dawn Arnall is a private investor, businesswoman and philanthropist. She currently serves as chair of SBP Capital Corporation. A seasoned executive with more than two decades of professional experience in the financial services and real estate industries, Arnall is an active investor in the energy, insurance and technology sectors. She is a supporter of animal rescue and conservation organizations, cancer research and therapeutic education for mentally and physically challenged children. She is a member of the board of directors of Conservation International and former chair of National Geographic's International Council of Advisors. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and is a member of the George W. Bush Women's Advisory Board.

Arnall obtained her B.A. and M.B.A. from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She lives in Aspen, Colorado.

David T. Bell

Ex-Officio

David T. Bell, is a partner with Deloitte and Touche LLP, the Audit and Enterprise Risk Services (ERS) function-specific subsidiary of Deloitte LLP, a leading global professional services firm. Bell is based in McLean, Virginia. With more than 20 years of experience as a financial statement auditor, he serves a number of clients in the aerospace, defense, technology and energy industries. Over his career, Bell has served large public, small private and not-for-profit institutions. Before relocating to Deloitte’s McLean office in late 2011, David worked 13 years in Chicago, and, most recently, 6 years in Wilton, Connecticut, where he served as chief of staff for Deloitte’s professional practice network in its national office.

Bell is a graduate of Harding University and holds a B.B.A. in accounting. He is a licensed certified public accountant, with licenses in Illinois and Virginia, and he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He and his wife, Carmen, live in Vienna, Virginia, with their four daughters. Bell and his family are committed to the belief that all people should have access to the wonder of animals, not just in pictures or books, but in real life — as the Smithsonian’s National Zoo offers.

Hal Brierley

Hal Brierley serves as executive chairman and chief loyalty architect of Brierley+Partners, Inc., one of the world's leading specialists in the design and implementation of customer loyalty programs, having founded the company in 1985. B+P's clients include Allstate, American Eagle Outfitters, Express, Fandango, GameStop, Hard Rock Café, Hertz, Hilton, Levi's and 7 Eleven.

Brierley has provided loyalty program design counsel to some 200 major global brands over the past twenty five years, including the design for American Express, Continental Airlines' OnePass, Hertz #1Gold and Hilton Honors, as well as a decade of support for United's Mileage Plus.

Brierley founded and served as CEO of e-Rewards, Inc., the world's largest online market research panel, with some six million panelists in 36 countries, with annual sales of over $300 million.

He began his entrepreneurial career in 1969 as co-founder of Epsilon Data Management, one of the pioneers in database marketing, serving as its president and CEO for eleven years. Epsilon's early clients included some 400 not-for-profit organizations, including the San Diego Zoo and the National Zoo.

In 1980, Brierley served as the only consultant for the launch of American Airlines' AAdvantage program, the nation's first frequent traveler program. In 1982, Brierley was elected vice president of sales and advertising for Pan American World Airways, where he launched Worldpass, the first global frequent traveler program. In 1983, he was named senior vice president of marketing for Continental Airlines.

He graduated with highest honors in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1965 and as a Baker Scholar with high honors from Harvard Business School in 1968.

Brierley is involved in a variety of activities, including: the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation as a member of the board of directors and its executive and finance committees since 2000; Dallas Symphony Association; member of the board of Marketing Edge; member of the International Board of Advisors of the National Geographic Society; member of board of directors of Baylor Health Care System Foundation, Dallas Opera, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Foundation, University of Maryland College Park Foundation; member of Harvard Business School's board of dean’s advisors; member of the Mayor's Business/Arts Initiative Action Team; and a member of World Presidents Organization.

John A. Canning, Jr.

John A. Canning, Jr. co-founded Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC (“MDP”) in 1992, and served as its Chief Executive Officer until becoming its Chairman in 2007. MDP has raised investment funds with more than $22 billion in limited partner commitments from over 400 endowments, pension funds and other sophisticated investors. MDP is one of the most experienced and successful private equity investment firms in the United States with 43 investment professionals.

Prior to co-founding MDP, Mr. Canning spent 24 years with First Chicago Corporation, most recently as Executive Vice President of The First National Bank of Chicago and President of First Chicago Venture Capital.

Mr. Canning currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Corning Incorporated and Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club; and is a Life Trustee of Northwestern University. Mr. Canning is Co-Chairman of the Big Shoulders Fund, a Director and Chairman of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a Trustee and Former Chairman of the Museum of Science and Industry, former Director and Chairman of The Economic Club of Chicago, former Chairman of The Chicago Community Trust, a Trustee and former Chairman of The Field Museum and former Director and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Robert A. "Bob" Cook

Robert  A. “Bob” Cook, V.M.D., M.P.A. of Cortlandt Manor, New York, is currently an adjunct assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University. He is a veterinarian who has spent his career in wildlife health, conservation and foundation philanthropy. Most recently, he served as Program Director for Conservation and Basic Medical Research at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Prior to that, he worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society serving as the Chief Veterinarian and then as the General Director. In this role he led a team responsible for the operations of five New York zoological parks, including the Central Park, Queens and Prospect Park Zoos, the New York Aquarium and the Bronx Zoo. He has worked extensively in rural international settings and on global policy issues focused on the health of people, domestic animals and wildlife. His work with Helmsley included support of community-based conservation, protected area establishment and management, biodiversity, marine conservation, food security, environmental justice and the sustainability of natural resources. Dr. Cook served as an adjunct assistant professor at SIPA from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2013 to present.

Stephanie Cutter

Stephanie Cutter is a founding partner at Precision Strategies, a communications, digital and data targeting consulting firm in Washington D.C. and New York City. Her political and communications experience spans two decades in public service and the private sector; crafting communications and crisis-management strategies for the White House, US Senate, and the nation's leading political campaigns and corporations. After helping to elect the president in 2008 and serving in the White House, Cutter was President Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager in charge of communications, media, policy, and research as well as being a member of the senior strategy team.

Cutter sits on the boards of Organizing for Action, the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and in 2013, she was appointed to the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities.

A Massachusetts native, Cutter lives in Washington, DC, and is a graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University Law Center.

James Dinegar

Emeritus

James Dinegar joined the Greater Washington Board of Trade as president and chief executive officer in July 2006. As president and CEO, Dinegar oversees an organization that represents major business interests throughout northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and suburban Maryland. The Board of Trade puts its focus on the critical issues facing the greater Washington, D.C., region: transportation; emergency preparedness and business continuity; green as a competitive advantage; and the workforce in regards to recruiting and retaining highly qualified people. For more than 120 years, the Board of Trade has been instrumental in creating and protecting the environs of the Washington region for the population and business.

Before coming to the Board of Trade, Dinegar served as chief operating officer of the American Institute for Architects (AIA) where he was responsible for the overall operation of a 77,000-member organization and directed strategic efforts in the areas of education, technology, international collaboration, organizational alliances, and government advocacy. Mr. Dinegar lives in Arlington, Virginia and has called the Washington, D.C., region home for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Catholic University of America. 

Joan Donner

Emeritus

Joan Donner of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is president of Twende, LTD, a Colorado- and Nairobi-based company that leads and coordinates safaris in Africa. She has been active on a number of boards and committees in the Washington area, including the Smithsonian national board, National Museum of the American Indian, and the James Smithson Society.

Elliott Ferguson

Elliott Ferguson serves as president and CEO of Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for Washington, DC.

A veteran of more than 25 years in the travel and hospitality industry, Ferguson leads Destination DC's efforts to generate economic opportunity for the District through meetings and tourism, overseeing the organization's convention and tourism sales, marketing, finance and business development operations. Ferguson began his tenure with Destination DC in 2001 as senior vice president of convention sales and services and has served as president and CEO of Destination DC since 2009. Prior to working at Destination DC he served as vice president of sales at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has also served as director of sales for both the Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureaus.

Ferguson received a Bachelor of Arts in marketing and business administration from Savannah State University. His many memberships in the industry include the American Society of Association Executives, Professional Conference Management Association, International Association of Exhibition Executives and Destination Marketing Association International.

Ferguson currently serves on the board of directors for the following organizations: the U.S. Department of Commerce's Travel and Tourism Advisory Board; U.S. Travel Association; Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID); the District of Columbia's Taxicab Commission; DC Jazz Festival; Capital Partners for Education; and the Ryan Kerrigan "Blitz for the Better" Foundation. Ferguson also serves on Brand USA's Marketing Advisory Group; DC Business Coalition and Hospitality Alliance of Washington, DC.

Ferguson is a longtime resident of Capitol Hill, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and is an active mentor with Capital Partners for Education.

Michael Lefenfeld

Michael Lefenfeld is a serial entrepreneur and technology thought leader, co-founded and leads SiGNa Chemistry, Inc., a global manufacturer of highly-active, environmentally-friendly chemicals. SiGNa’s products are used to improve production processes in the energy recovery, petrochemical refining and chemical manufacturing industries. Lefenfeld and SiGNa have been recognized with the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Award and the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Award.

Lefenfeld built his career around the belief that many of the solutions our world seeks—better healthcare, cleaner manufacturing, and sustainable energy—can be achieved with better science. He has dedicated his career to cutting-edge scientific research and his work has led to safer industrial environments, better medical technologies, and more effective, affordable energy solutions. Prior to SiGNa, Lefenfeld embraced his ability for developing and commercializing new technology and launched and sold three other companies by the time he was 30. He has been widely recognized for his efforts including:  World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, ICIS Top Chemical Power Player to Watch, Cedars-Sinai Award for Technology Innovation in Medical Devices, Red Herring Magazine’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 35, Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, BusinessWeek’s Best Entrepreneurs Under 25. He also holds more than 50 patents in areas including medical devices, controlled release, electronics, chemical reactivity, and information technology.

Michael has a master's of philosophy in Chemistry from Columbia University and a bachelor's in chemical engineering from Washington University in St Louis. Michael is an annual lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and is an adjunct faculty scholar at Michigan State University. He is a member of the business advisory board for the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, the board of entrepreneurs for Venture for America, the board of directors for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (NYC Chapter) and the advisory board for Washington University of St. Louis’ EECE.

Kenneth "Ken" Lore

Kenneth "Ken" Lore is an attorney and partner at Kattan Muchin Rosenman LLP. He joined the firm in February 2014, where he serves as head of the real estate practice – East Coast. Lore has written extensively on all aspects of real estate law, and his articles have been published in Legal Times, New York Law Journal and American University Law Review. He also lectures on real estate finance at industry forums and seminars, such as the Columbia University real estate development program and meetings of the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association. Lore is frequently interviewed by the real estate and general press for commentary on industry developments and has been a featured speaker on regional and national news broadcasts.

Previously, he was co-chair of Bingham McCutchen LLP's Real Estate Practice Group. He is on the board of the Foundation for the National Archives and was board Chairman and President. He also sits on the Dean's Advisory Council of the Washington College of Law at American University. Additionally, he sits on the board of the National Housing Conference (formerly vice chairman) the advisory board of the Center for Housing Policy, and the editorial advisory board of "Tax Credit Advisor." He was chairman of Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies National Advisory Board from 2004–2010.

Thomas E. Lovejoy, Ph.D.

Thomas E. Lovejoy is a university professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation, and the former biodiversity chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. Lovejoy introduced the term biological diversity to the scientific community in 1980. From 2009-2013, Lovejoy served as chair of the Scientific Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the multibillion dollar funding mechanism for developing countries in support of their obligations under international environmental conventions and currently serves as a senior advisor. Lovejoy has been assistant secretary and counselor to the secretary at the Smithsonian Institution, science advisor to the secretary of the interior, and executive vice president of the World Wildlife Fund–U.S. He conceived the idea for the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems project, a joint project between the Smithsonian and Brazil's INPA, originated the concept of debt-for-nature swaps, and is the founder of the public television series Nature. In 2001 he was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and in 2012 received the Blue Planet Prize, which recognizes outstanding efforts in scientific research or applications of science that contribute to solving global environmental problems. Lovejoy served on science and environmental councils or committees under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees, both in biology, from Yale University.

Angela "Angie" Marriott

Angela Marriott is a member of the Marriott Family, long-time supporters of Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. With the Marriott Family's dedication and support, the Zoo has achieved much-needed momentum for its continuing efforts to raise awareness and funding for its work and to maintain its global leadership among zoos. The Marriott's have also introduced the Zoo's work and important initiatives to other animal lovers, conservationists, and local philanthropic leaders. The Marriott Family played a leading role in securing the funding necessary to bring the Giant Pandas back to the Zoo in 2000 with a gift of $1.6 million, as well as a generous $3 million gift to the Elephant Trails exhibit in 2007, allowing critically endangered Asian elephants to flourish in a state-of-the-art habitat.

Marriott currently serves as a board member of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Mid-Atlantic chapter; the American Heart Association's Women's Board; and is a former board member of Best Friends Foundation and Washington Performing Arts Society.

Adrienne B. Mars

Emeritus

Adrienne B. Mars of Jackson, Wyoming has been involved with various environmental organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution.

Since 1974, Mars has served on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater. She has been a part of the Board of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and the Smithsonian's National Board.

For nearly two decades, Mars has been active with the World Wildlife Fund, sitting on the Board and the National Council. She is also involved with the Washington Opera's Board. Born in Quincy, Florida, Mars earned her bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

Susan A. Mars

Vice-Chair

Susan A. Mars, of McLean, Virginia, lived in Singapore and in Belgium before moving to the Washington area. A nurse by training, Mars' passion revolves around providing opportunity for disadvantaged children to lead both a productive life and to learn to appreciate and respect their local environment.

While residing in Singapore, she was an active board member of Caring for Cambodia, a non-profit organization focused on improving the lives of children through education and outreach. Mars served on the board of Insulated Shipping Containers, Inc. from 1990 to 2001 and currently serves on the board of Demios, LLC, a private venture capital firm based in Southern California, whose primary mission is to identify and support early start-up businesses in the areas of health and environmental sciences.

Ziad S. Ojakli

Chair

Ziad S. Ojakli is a Ford Motor Company group vice president of government and community relations.

Ojakli leads a team that helps shape policy and legislation that promote the company's core business objectives including areas of energy and the environment, tax, international trade, driver safety, and improvements in the nation's health care systems.

As head of Ford's global government relations, Ojakli oversees interactions with governments in 110 markets around the world where Ford does business. He is also responsible for Ford's federal and state government relations in the U.S.

Ojakli directs the company's philanthropic arm, the Ford Motor Company Fund, which contributes to a broad range of initiatives that support education and assists communities with a variety of needs. He is also chairman of Ford’s Political Action Committee and oversees the grassroots communications effort of Ford employees.

From 2001 – 2004, Ojakli served President George W. Bush as a deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs. In this role, he managed daily interactions for the White House with U.S. Senators, assisted in strategy and policy development, and coordinated legislative strategy with the president's cabinet. From 1995 to 2000, Ojakli served in senior positions in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ojakli is an active board member of numerous organizations, including: the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; the Arab American Museum Advisory Board; Arab American Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS); the Henry Ford Learning Institute; the Jackie Robinson Foundation; the National Civil Rights Museum; the Washington Center for Internships; and serves on the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park advisory board.

In 2006, Ojakli was named a delegate to the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders, joining 410 leaders from all regions of the world.

A graduate of Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in American government, Ojakli, born in June 1967, joined the company in January 2004.

Nels B. Olson

Nels B. Olson is a Vice Chairman and Co-Leader of Korn Ferry’s Board & CEO Services Practice, based in the Firm’s Washington, D.C., and New York offices. In addition to his Board & CEO Services Practice role, Mr. Olson is the Head of the Global Government Affairs Practice.  Recognized in the industry for his keen business sense and political knowledge, Mr. Olson has advised many clients through challenging management transitions. Over the past 20 years, he has completed in excess of 1,000 successful searches for a wide range of Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Olson’s executive search and board assignments span the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America, and lie across multiple industries, including financial services, technology, consumer, industrial and healthcare.

Recent CEO level assignments include Sallie Mae, the Commissioner of the NFL and the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Boston. Recent Board assignments include American International Group, Occidental Petroleum Corp., The Carlyle Group, NewsCorp and The Travelers Companies. Mr. Olson is a leader in placing senior-level professionals skilled in government/regulatory affairs, as well as international and public affairs, among them: Boeing, Carlyle, Caterpillar, Starbucks, Hilton, Aetna and Wellpoint. He has extensive experience in leading associations and nonprofit organizations, including Business Roundtable, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Motion Picture Association of America.

Mr. Olson joined Korn Ferry in 1993 after a successful career in public relations and government service. Prior to joining the firm, he was with the public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, Inc. Preceding this, Mr. Olson gained experience in executive search when he was on the staff of the White House in the Office of Presidential Personnel. In this capacity, he identified and recommended candidates for senior political positions in cabinet agencies and was responsible for the political clearance for all presidential appointees. Mr. Olson earned a master’s in business administration from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the State University of New York.

Terry W. Prather

Terry Prather of Winter Park, Florida, recently served as senior vice president of operations at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment with oversight of safety, environmental compliance, ride operations and standardization functions across the company’s 11 parks.

Prather is an industry veteran with more than 29 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry. His SeaWorld career started in maintenance and water quality for SeaWorld San Antonio, where he worked from the park's inauguration in 1988 to 1997. During his tenure, the park's security, safety and environmental compliance functions were added to his responsibilities. Prather left SeaWorld San Antonio in 1997 to serve as managing director of San Antonio's Witte Museum. He held that position until being named vice president and general manager of the park that would become Six Flags New Orleans in 2000.

He was promoted to president of Six Flags America in Bowie, Maryland, in 2006. Prather returned to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in May 2008 and led Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Virginia, before moving to Orlando in May 2010 to become vice president of operations at SeaWorld Orlando. In October of that same year, Prather was named president of SeaWorld Orlando. Prather led the long-range planning, daily operations and conservation initiatives of the world’s most popular marine life park, SeaWorld Orlando, and its two sister properties, Discovery Cove and Aquatica.

Prather serves on several community boards and has served on many others, including Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Bethune-Cookman University, Visit Florida, LIFT Orlando, Maryland Tourism Development Board, New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation, New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, and United Way of Greater New Orleans.

James G. “Jim” Vella

James G. “Jim” Vella leads all of the community service activities of Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, and is overseeing Ford Fund’s expanding global outreach.  Established in 1949 by Henry Ford II, Ford Fund builds on more than 100 years of Ford Motor Company corporate citizenship by focusing its efforts on community life, education and safe driving. Ford Fund works to improve people’s lives through innovative problem solving with nonprofit partners and signature programs, such as Ford Driving Skills for Life and Ford Driving Dreams. It also oversees the Ford Volunteer Corps, which enlisted more than 36,000 Ford employees and retirees to give back to their local communities in 40 countries during 2017. Vella became president of Ford Fund on Dec. 1, 2006. Prior to this assignment, he served as visiting university professor at the University of Michigan Dearborn, a position he assumed in December 2005. From 2000 through 2005, Vella served in a variety of executive leadership positions, including chief of staff, vice president of corporate public affairs and executive director, corporate communications.

Vella joined Ford in 1988 as a producer for the Ford Communications Network. He held a series of public affairs positions, including broadcast news manager, regional news manager for the Northeast region, director of public affairs for Ford's global manufacturing operations, and director of public affairs global operations. Before joining Ford, Vella worked in television news at local affiliate stations for 14 years. His television career included news management assignments at WJBK-TV in Detroit, KNSD-TV (formerly KCST-TV) in San Diego, and WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio. He is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Vella serves on a number of boards, including:

  • Chair, Ford Motor Company Fund Board of Trustees
  • National Advisory Board Member, The Salvation Army
  • Executive Committee Member, United Way of Southeastern Michigan
  • Corporate Board of Advisors, National Council of La Raza
  • Board of Directors, Downtown Detroit Partnership
  • Board of Directors, Cass Community Social Services
  • Board of Directors, Enactus
  • Board of Directors, Gleaners Community Food Bank
  • Board of Directors, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
  • Georgetown University Advisory Council
  • Detroit Sports Organizing Corp (founding member)