Associate Director for Visitor Experience

The incumbent functions as the Associate Director for Visitor Experience for the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI). This position is responsible for managing and directing a multi-functional organization involving complex and challenging programs and projects that cross organizational lines and technical disciplines and affect multiple organizations. The work focuses on managing and improving the overall experience for all visitors to NZCBI facilities, working constantly to identify areas of weakness and developing strategic approaches and tactical implementation to address issues.

The position includes developing, coordinating, and maintaining all aspects of the organization and programs; exercising effective control over the resources of the organization; coordinating, and integrating management and program activities; providing expert leadership and oversight to the organization; and serving as a key advisor and consultant to senior NZCBI officials in planning and carrying out the assigned programs and functions.


Program Management 

  • Supervises, directs, coordinates, and oversees the programs, functions, and initiatives performed by a staff of subordinate supervisors and team leaders and the professional, administrative, technical, and support staff of the Visitor Experience organization.
  • Defines strategic long-term and short-term visitor experience program objectives supporting the NZCBI mission.
  • Establishes policies and procedures governing program execution and accountability.
  • Sets priorities and milestones for individual projects and team initiatives within the program. 
  • Develops programs and approaches to measure visitor engagement and experience.
  • Develops methods to collect, collate, interpret, and use data across all areas of visitor experience. Develops methods to display data in ways that are useful for informational purposes and decision making by senior leadership.
  • Implements process improvements based on analysis of the data. Assesses the success of implemented program and adjusts.


  • Works collaboratively with senior NZCBI management in the planning, development, administration, and evaluation of the visitor experience programs within the organization.
  • Provides expert advice, guidance, and consultation to senior management officials on the visitor experience program areas and initiatives of the organization.
  • Routinely is called upon to provide input and assistance to larger SI initiatives and programs.
  • Leads a pan-NZCBI working group focused on improving overall visitor experience across all functional areas and locations. 
  • Routinely leads inspections of the park, identifying quick fixes as well as significant challenges that require planning and collaboration to fix. 
  • Leads working groups to address areas of concern, as well as groups to drive improvements. Develops a culture of continual improvement among teams and the larger staff.
  • Provides customer-oriented management services to internal and external entities by working with other organizations and customers to set expectations and keep them informed of issues. 

Human Capital Management and Supervision

  • Directs a large, multi-mission NZCBI organization that has management responsibility for critical operational and staff functions, utilizes considerable resources, and provides leadership, direction, and management of the organization through subordinate supervisors and team leaders.
  • Manages and oversees professional staff to include prioritizing, assigning, monitoring, and reviewing work; conducting performance evaluations; ensuring staff are trained; ensuring that employees follow policies and procedures and maintaining a healthy and safe working environment; and making hiring, termination, and disciplinary recommendations.
  • Justifies, defends, and negotiates in obtaining and committing resources for major NZCBI-wide projects, and visitor experience programs in compliance with Federal, SI, and NZCBI policies, regulations, and contracts. Works to develop new sources of funding to support visitor experience goals.
  • Oversees and directs program evaluation and quality assurance functions, to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies, and to ensure overall visitor experience program effectiveness and efficiency. 
  • Performs other duties as assigned. 


Specialized experience for this position is defined as:

  • Determining program goals, resource needs, develops work plans, allocates resources, and accounts for their effective use.
  • Oversees and directs program evaluation and quality assurance functions, to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies, and to ensure overall visitor experience program effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Plans work to be accomplished by the subordinate staff, sets, and adjusts short-term and long-term priorities, and prepares timeframes and milestones for completion of work.
  • Establishes policies and procedures governing program execution and accountability. 

NOTE: There is no substitution of education for specialized experience at the Grade 15 level.

Applicants, who wish to qualify based on education completed outside the United States must be deemed equivalent to higher education programs of U.S. institutions by an organization that specializes in the interpretation of foreign educational credentials. This documentation is the responsibility of the applicant and should be included as part of his/her application package.