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Meet Our CEO

Okapi standing in trees and brush

Meet our CEO

Lisa New

We are thrilled to introduce you to Lisa New, CEO of the Dallas Zoo, and the first female leader in the Zoo’s 135-year existence.

After spending her career at Zoo Knoxville in Tennessee, she moved to Dallas at the end of 2023 to embark on a new chapter here with your Dallas Zoo. Her commitment to creating destination experiences that inspire people to care about animals aligns perfectly with the Dallas Zoo’s mission of Engaging People & Saving Wildlife.

Lisa officially assumed her role in mid-January 2024 and is still getting to know the Zoo – and Dallas – but we thought you might enjoy getting to know her a bit better.

Get to know our “New” leader:

What led Lisa to the “Zoo world”?

Lisa first discovered her interest in wildlife biology in college. That led her to Zoo Knoxville where she had the opportunity to hand-raise two orphaned chimpanzees – an experience she says changed the trajectory of her life. She made the decision to focus her attention on great apes, which became the subject of a master’s thesis and the foundation of her career in animal care.

About Lisa’s career

Before joining us in Dallas, Lisa had served as President and CEO at Zoo Knoxville for the past decade. Under her leadership, the team there executed a bold strategic plan that included a comprehensive campus master plan, rebranding of the zoo, a successful $39 million capital campaign, some of Zoo Knoxville’s most ambitious construction projects, and several award-winning habitats.

Lisa is a highly respected and recognized leader within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) community. She is currently serving in a yearlong term as the Chair of the AZA Board of Directors. Throughout her career, Lisa also has served other pivotal roles within AZA, including serving as an Accreditation Inspector, as well as Vice Chair for both the AZA’s Chimpanzee and Gorilla Species Survival Plans.

What drew her to Dallas?

Lisa often mentions that the Zoo’s former CEO Gregg Hudson was a mentor and friend to her, and says it is incredibly special to have the opportunity to build on Gregg’s legacy here at the Zoo he loved so much. She credits conversations with Gregg and seeing the transformation of the Dallas Zoo under his leadership as motivation for her to apply for the CEO position in Knoxville.

“I am privileged to take on this role here at the Dallas Zoo. There are so many amazing things on the horizon for us – I am looking forward to sharing the excitement with you as we go on this journey together!”

Lisa New
Chief Executive Officer