Great Plains Zoo Board of Directors Announces New CEO
SIOUX FALLS: The Board of Directors of the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is pleased to announce the appointment of Rebeka (Becky) Dewitz as CEO of the Zoo. Previously Becky was Zoo Director at Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, ND. She will take over the leadership position in late October 2020.
Jeff Hugunin, Chair of the Zoo’s Board said, “We are very excited to welcome Becky to the Zoo and to the Sioux Falls community. She has accomplished so much in her fourteen years at Roosevelt Park Zoo, including building a new lion and tiger exhibit. We know her experience and expertise will be a great asset to the Zoo. With her vision, commitment to conservation, and so many relationships within the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) community, she will clearly take the Zoo to the next level.”
Becky’s appointment is the culmination of a comprehensive seven-month search process. A committee of the Board, with the help of Philadelphia based executive leadership search firm, Zoo Advisors, evaluated over 30 qualified candidates, conducted video interviews, and brought a few of them in for on-site interviews with board members and staff. As a key partner of the Zoo, City Parks & Recreation Director, Don Kearney, also had the opportunity to participate in the process.
“The Zoo is such a jewel in the community for Sioux Falls and doing so much good work, has a wonderful and committed staff and so many great exhibits.” said Ms. Dewitz. “Coming from a Zoo that is such an integral part of our City, it is so great to see the tremendous support from the City of Sioux Falls. It will be a joy and an honor to use my passion and experience to be a part of the future growth and development happening there.”
Becky’s engagement and involvement in multiple conservation initiatives, successes in fundraising, navigating the Roosevelt Park Zoo through AZA accreditation, and guiding the Zoo’s recovery and subsequent development after the devasting floods in 2011 make her ideally suited to lead the Zoo and increase its mission, economic, and quality of life impact for the City and the greater region. Having come up through the education areas of the Zoo in Minot, she recognizes its importance in delivering on the Zoo’s mission and the benefits to kids throughout the community.
Jeff and the board also want to thank Suzie O’Meara, who led the Zoo as Interim-CEO over the last seven months. “Suzie has done a terrific job guiding the Zoo through this transition and especially dealing with the closure and reopening of the Zoo because of COVID. She is a talented professional and now has a new found love and appreciation for the Zoo. We are so pleased and appreciative of her work and with the strong foundation she set and which Becky can build from.”
A South Dakota native and a South Dakota State University graduate, Becky is also on the AZA accreditation inspection committee and an active member in The Lions Club. She plans to relocate to Sioux Falls with her family and looks forward to getting to know and becoming a part of the community.
Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.Taylor F.
We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.Robin A.
Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.Stephanie N.
The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.Bill T.