Fillah has been working at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for more than 30 years. In his current role as the associate director, planning and strategic initiatives, his work supports the initiatives of the director and senior leadership focusing on major zoological park planning, new facilities and exhibits, visitor amenities, and park renewal projects.
Fillah directs the development and management of a new “Programmatic Master Plan,” for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, which provides a long-range vision and roadmap for collections, facilities and Zoo themes. Fillah has had a significant role in the Zoo’s development into the wonderful place that visitors experience today, and has mentored many staff who are now leaders here at the Zoo and elsewhere in the Smithsonian. Fillah’s ongoing planning and projects include: planning for a new central parking facility, improving Zoo circulation for vehicles and pedestrians, continued work on safety and security, and a renovation of the historic 1928 Bird House.
Prior to this appointment, Fillah held the position of associate director for exhibits and park management beginning in 2007. Previously, he was the Zoo’s head of park management from 2003 to 2007, and chief of the Zoo’s horticulture department from 1985 to 2003. The Zoo’s beautiful grounds, with lush plantings of diverse species of trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers, were the result of Fillah's and others' work. He has been involved with the development of several large projects, from the very popular Speedwell Conservation Carousel, to bringing back red pandas to Asia Trail and American bison to Olmsted Walk—both in new and renovated habitats. Fillah is a member of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums and served for several years on the board of directors of the Association of Zoological Horticulture.
Fillah graduated in 1975 from the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture. A Montgomery County, Maryland native, he has been working in outdoors environments for over 40 years. His devotion to the Zoo and its development has fostered the creation of a working environment where tree conservation, green initiatives and creative thinking is now standard practice.