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You Need to Know…Michael Meadows

By Trey Garrison |
Image
photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Michael Meadows

COMPANY: Dallas Zoological Society 
TITLE: President and CEO
STATS: $4.5 million raised in 2005, 19 employees, founded in 1955
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW HIM:
Michael Meadows rides herd on 20,000 members and donors who support the Southwest’s oldest—and Texas’ largest—zoo. The latest challenge he bears is to rebrand a family attraction that’s suffered more for image than reality: market research shows those with the best impression of the Dallas Zoo are recent visitors; those with the worst impression are people who haven’t been in years. Raising money for the big-ticket items such as new exhibits, animals, rides, marketing, and advertising is comparably easy. But it’s his “ambiance initiative” that’s making a real difference in the zoo-going experience for the half million people a year who pass through the entrance. Meadows has learned a single bad experience at the micro-level can ruin all the larger measures his group takes. He and society staff tour the zoo with the mind of a four-star hotel manager. “You can have the best restaurant in the city with the finest chef,” he says, “but if the guest goes into the bathroom and it’s a mess, they won’t come back.”