Kevin Bell

President + CEO, Lincoln Park Zoo

Kevin Bell is one of the most experienced zookeepers possibly ever. This is not an understatement.

He grew up on the actual grounds of the Bronx Zoo, where his father was a curator of birds. He was volunteering at the zoo by age 10 and a full-fledged zookeeper at 16.

After picking up a bachelor’s degree in biology from Syracuse and a master’s in zoology from SUNY Brockport, Kevin impressed everybody and surprised nobody when he became a bird curator for the Lincoln Park Zoo. Just 23 at the time, he still holds the record for the youngest curator ever hired at the iconic Chicago institution.

Leapfrog forward a few decades and it’s only fitting that Kevin is at the helm of one of the world’s most revered zoological institutions, receiving such honors as being named one of three U.S. delegates on the board of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

Kevin’s got 5 leadership lessons that have served him well since his childhood in the Bronx Zoo:

1. Respect an organization’s history. Always keep legacy connected to culture.

2. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. You will make them. Some small. Some not so small. It’s how you learn.

3. Share your mistakes. Your perspective benefits those who make similar missteps. And helps others avoid making them.

4. Don’t be afraid of heights either. Take risks. Sometimes you will have to go out on the edge.

5. Do things the best way. The “how” is just as important as the “what.”

Visit Lincoln Park Zoo.

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FIVEinSIXTY is our web series with thought leaders whose stories provide insights and inspiration for the next generation of go getters—our own little brainchild outside the wide variety of videos we produce for our clients.

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