Board of Directors and Staff

Executive Officers

AAZK Board Vision: The Board of Directors of the American Association of Zoo Keepers will maintain the organization as a leader in the fields of animal care and conservation.

AAZK Board Mission: The Board of Directors of the American Association of Zoo Keepers exists to provide leadership for the AAZK Committees and Programs and the AAZK membership by operating in accordance with the overall Mission of AAZK.

Executive Officers

Nicole Pepo

Areas of Responsibility

  • AAZK Board Management
  • Conservation, Regulation, and Education direct report
  • Conservation Partner Management

Vice President and Ethics Chair
Joseph Nappi

Areas of Responsibilities

  • Liaison Management
  • Ethics
  • Communication/NZKW, Diversity, and Recognition direct report

Board of Directors

Regulation Team

Regulation Team Vision: The Regulation Team envisions keepers at the forefront of knowledge related to the safety and welfare of animals, staff, and visitors.

Paul Brandenburger


  • Education, Communication, and Recognition Committees
  • Safety Committee

Education Team

Education Team Vision: The AAZK Education Team will seek to provide resources for AAZK members and Chapters while pursuing education and animal care training, continuing education and workshops in Latin America.

Russell Pharr


  • International Outreach Committee
  • AAZK Resource Committee

Recognition Team

Recognition Team Vision: The AAZK Recognition Team will recognize outstanding achievements and financially support conservation efforts and professional development of the AAZK membership.

Erika Defer


  • Grants Committee
  • Awards Committee


Conservation Team

Conservation Team Vision: The AAZK Conservation Team will connect members with conservation projects and sustainable environmental practices locally and globally, and will support new conservation initiatives worldwide.

Sara Bjerklie


  • Conservation Team
  • AAZK’s Bowling for Rhinos
  • AAZK’s Trees for You and Me

Connection Team

Connection Team Vision: The AAZK Connection Team will ensure a well informed and professionally connected base while providing content and resources reflective of the needs of our members and current events in animal care.

Sarah Snider


  • Communication
  • National Zoo Keeper Week
  • Diversity


AAZK Staff

Executive Director
Scott Soldat-Valenzuela


Director of Professional Development and Conference Management
Bethany Bingham


Editor, Animal Keepers’ Forum
Shane Good