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from the desk of dan ashe

Community Strength

By Dan Ashe
min read

AZA’s Commercial Member Engagement Council

Elder David Bednar said, “Guilt is to the spirit what pain is to the body.”

As conscious and thoughtful beings, we all know that our existence, prosperity, and life quality come at the expense of other living beings—people, non-human animals, plants, and life forms we may not even know exist. We carry a burden of guilt, which for most of us evokes a need to give back, to do some good. It helps mend the pain in our spirit.

That may be why today’s consumers are so determined that their spending choices make a difference. They want to know that their purchase—be it a ticket to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facility, an item of clothing, or a night out on the town—adds to the greater good.  And if it does, they will show loyalty to those brands that deliver. 

Good corporate citizenship will be rewarded.

AZA’s Commercial Membership Engagement Council is bringing the good corporate citizenship and market expertise of our leading commercial members to the table to help our community better align operations with missions. It will also help us broaden our understanding of and our reach with consumers.

The Council has three inaugural members, each initially taking a leadership role in a particular area. The three members and their initial area of focus are: 

  • SSA will be using their deep knowledge and expertise in building a diverse and inclusive corporate culture to help lead the conversation on how our community can become more welcoming and open.

  • Event Network will focus on how to build cutting-edge, conservation-conscious business practices, including better understanding and management of supply chains, single-use plastic pollution, and climate change initiatives.

  • Zoo Advisors will take the lead on data analysis and benchmarking, helping our community get deeper and more meaningful insights into the markets we serve and how best to craft important programs and effective operations.

The challenges we face as a community are as large as they are diverse. No single organization—be it a zoo, aquarium, or commercial member—can hope to solve them alone. What strength we have comes from the partnerships we form and the collaborations we participate in—in short, our strength is our community. 

The Commercial Member Engagement Council brings the strength and good corporate citizenship of our commercial members to our community in a dynamic way that will improve our operations and resonate with guests. 

It also opens a new leadership pathway for our commercial members, an important part of our community that currently has no representation on the AZA board of directors. So, the CMEC is an important expression of our appreciation of commercial members and the valuable perspectives that they bring to our community table.

When you next see a representative from Zoo Advisors, Event Network or SSA, please express your appreciation and admiration to them for their leadership and partnership in establishing the Commercial Member Engagement Council.

And as you think of other commercial members who should join this council, please encourage them to reach out to me, or Gina Velosky.

We Are AZA! And “We” includes our community of commercial members.

DAN ASHE IS THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS.

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