Commercial Member Engagement Council

The AZA Commercial Member Engagement Council 

Founded in January 2020, The Commercial Member Engagement Council (CMEC) goal will be to find the intersection between economic, environmental, and social aspects of business to set the standards for the industry in carrying out AZA’s mission of respecting, valuing, and conserving wildlife and wild places.

The CMEC will explore how AZA’s community of nearly 325+ commercial members can align their strategies for Good Corporate Citizenship with each other and with AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Good Corporate Citizenship is an evolving business practice that incorporates sustainable development into a company's business model. The practice also provides a new brand platform companies can use to leverage their cause marketing initiatives to the general public and to niche markets.

“Corporate citizenship extends across a broad field that includes good governance, sound, transparent financial reporting, and ethical decision making,” said Dan Ashe, AZA’s President and CEO. “AZA’s commercial members are already exhibiting such initiatives, large and small.”

Event NetworkLogo image of Event Network depicting letters "e" and "n" within a circle with text reading "cultural attraction retail" around the outside.

Event Network was born in 1998 and began with a store for the Titanic Artifact Exhibition in Boston. Larry Gilbert and Helen Sherman, co-founders of the company, led the effort to create a robust retail offering for Titanic and, in the process, planted the seed for what Event Network is today—the leading operator of experiential retail stores for a variety of cultural attraction and lifestyle destinations. In addition to the significant financial benefits, our retail partners enjoy a highly collaborative, turn-key retail solution that allows them to focus on their core business while we maximize the retail potential and eliminate the liabilities associated with self-operated retail. Event Network’s core purpose is to extend and elevate the guest experience and maximize the retail potential on behalf of our partners. This is achieved by exclusively focusing on retail.

We strongly believe in the notion of being a “for purpose and in service” company, a motto that guides how each and every one of our team members thinks and operates each day. From supporting our partners’ missions and brands, to celebrating and representing local artisans and communities, to ensuring that all product and materials for our store environments are sourced ethically and responsibly, our goal is to provide the best possible experience for each guest that comes through our partners’ doors. We are excited about our first 20 years, but even more so about the future and the opportunity to be in service to our wonderful guests and partners for many years to come!


Logo of SSA group depicting SSA enclosed by a square and underlined with the word group below.(SSA) is an award-winning visitor amenities company. We partner with Cultural Attractions across the country to deliver innovative ideas that sustainably grow visitor participation and develop competitive advantage through powerful customer experiences. 

What matters most in today's business climate is the design and delivery of innovation value.  Meeting this goal demands the simultaneous application of creative thinking and innovative design, followed by operational execution. The concepts provided by SSA focus on our client’s expectations of enhancing the visitor’s overall experience, and to do so in the context of their mission related programming.  Often we seek out new business opportunities where we can contribute to align with their mission through innovation, and with our client’s aspirations for exploring ways for amenity systems to intersect with cultural programming. Our goal is to become an extension of the programming itself - we look to reset quick service dining, catering, and retail design so that they are positioned as immersive extensions of the culture of the venue.

Each location has outstanding, talented individuals who put visitor experience and customer service first. The fun and family feel of SSA's culture provides an amazing work experience promoting growth from within, creating rooted industry knowledge and expertise. The vast nature of the different types of locations creates an amazing staff of culinary experts, operations, sales, retail buyers, and everything in between.

Zoo Advisors                       

Logo Image of Zoo Advisors. The word Zoo is in blue font. The Z loops into the O. The second O is chained to the first O. The word advisors is underneath and is gray font.Zoo Advisors, a full-service consulting firm, has provided business, organizational, leadership and executive search, analytical, fundraising, and financial expertise to zoo, animal, and conservation organizations both nationally and internationally. David Walsh, ZA’s Principal, and his diverse team of experienced leaders, with decades of experience in the field, are well respected within the industry, earning accolades from clients and peers while working collaboratively with design teams to provide realistic, yet visionary ideas for growth for facilities, organizations, and funding.

Zoo Advisors’ philosophy to balance clients’ conservation and education missions with the bottom line and the need for financial sustainability assists us to help create high performing organizations by uniting stakeholders behind a common vision to develop actionable plans to achieve success from growing attendance to opening new exhibits to increasing conservation impact. 

Our team has extensive experience working with and providing counsel to zoos of all sizes. We have helped develop Strategic, Business, Master, Conservation, and Operational Plans for more than 120 AZA-accredited institutions of all sizes, budgets, and governance models. We have successfully placed numerous leaders in top positions at zoos and aquariums across the country and continually support and advocate for more diverse and inclusive organizations and cultures. Visit us at to learn how we can help you take your institution to even higher heights.

More on the CMEC:

Press Releases

From the Desk of Dan Ashe: Community Strength: AZA’s Commercial Member Engagement Council

AZA Announces New Commercial Member Engagement Council

For more information on the impact of the CMEC and how to involve your company, please connect with Gina Velosky, MBA, Director, Integrated Marketing

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