Leadership Change at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute Director Dennis Kelly plans to retire after a temporary appointment as the interim president of Smithsonian Enterprises. Effective Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, Steven Monfort will become acting director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Kelly has served as the director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo since February 2010. As director, he has led the operations of the public Zoo, created a visionary plan for the Zoo’s future, and has ensured that the important work of the conservation scientists continues to have a global impact. 

Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. After serving in the military, Kelly held positions with Procter & Gamble and Touche Ross & Co. From 1982 to 1999, he served in various positions at The Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta. In 1999, Kelly joined Green Mountain Energy Co. and before coming to the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Kelly was President of Zoo Atlanta for six years. Kelly recently completed a term as Chair of the Board of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the most prestigious zoological accrediting body in the world.

Monfort has been at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute since 1986. He is currently the John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and deputy director of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Monfort served for 20 years as a research veterinarian, and he founded and co-led the Zoo’s Endocrine Research Laboratory. He launched the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation and played a key role in a number of significant conservation initiatives, including the Sahara Conservation Fund, Conservation Centers for Species Survival, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, and the Global Tiger Initiative. He has been instrumental in reintroducing scimitar-horned oryx, which were extinct in the wild, to their ancestral Sahelian habitats in Chad—one of the most ambitious reintroduction programs of its kind ever undertaken.Monfort is cofounder of the Smithsonian Conservation Commons, which seeks to effectively leverage Smithsonian science and cultural resources to find solutions to key conservation issues. As Chair, Monfort led a pan-Institutional team to convene the Earth Optimism Summit that took place in April. 

Monfort has co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and remains an active collaborator on a number of key conservation biology initiatives. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego; his master’s degree and doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of California, Davis; and a doctorate in environmental science and public policy from George Mason University.