New Regents take up their duties and the Zoo’s longest-serving keeper lays his down

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Board of Regents

John Fahey

John Fahey (Photo ©National Geographic)

President Obama signed legislation February 21 appointing two new citizen regents to the Smithsonian Board of Regents. The six-year terms of John Fahey, former CEO of the National Geographic Society, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey began immediately

The 17-member Smithsonian Board of Regents includes nine citizen members, three members of the House of Representatives and three members of the Senate, as well as the chief justice of the United States and the vice president, both ex officio voting members.

Fahey takes the board position vacated by Roger Sant, who served two six-year terms as a regent. Lavizzo-Mourey replaces Martha’s Table CEO Patty Stonesifer, who served two six-year terms, including three years as Chair of the Board.

Fahey joined National Geographic in 1996 as the first vice president and CEO of National Geographic Ventures, the non-profit organization’s business subsidiary. He later served as president of the Society (1998–2010) and CEO (1998–2011). He continues to serve as chairman of the National Geographic Society.

During his tenure at National Geographic, Fahey led the organization into cable TV with National Geographic Channel and expanded the reach of the National Geographic magazine to include 39 foreign-language editions. He also spearheaded programs for fellows, explorers-in-residence and a variety of grant-making projects around the world.

Fahey currently serves on the board of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the board of Johnson Outdoors Inc. He is a resident of Washington, D.C.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Lavizzo-Mourey is the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a position she has held since 2003. The foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropy focused solely on health and health care, including initiatives to establish the 911 EMS system and reduce tobacco use.

Lavizzo-Mourey is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and the President’s Council for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

She has served on multiple federal advisory committees, including the Task Force on Aging Research, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. She served as deputy administrator of what is now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

National Zoo

David Kessler, the longest-serving animal keeper at the National Zoo, has retired after 39 years of service. The Washington Post Magazine published a profile of Kessler by Rachel Manteuffel on March 6.

“I like to work with animals that nobody thinks about,” he told the Post. Small mammals, it’s true, are not headliners. In the past few years, Kessler has been lavishing his attention on the naked mole rat, an animal that resembles a flaccid penis with buck teeth. He always has a favorite weirdo. He has been the red panda guy, the house shrew guy, the Prevost’s squirrel guy and the moonrat guy. Moonrats have no natural predators, Kessler says with admiration and a little pride, because they smell so bad.

There aren’t a lot of jobs like zookeeper. Technically, Kessler’s job has been biologist, but the caretaking — the keeping — is what he loves best.

“It’s the care of living things. To keep, that’s a beautiful thing. The longer you watch an animal or a person just doing their thing, the more you feel connected to them.”

Read the entire article here.

David Kessler kisses an Aldabra giant tortoise in this undated photo. (Courtesy of the National Zoo)

David Kessler kisses an Aldabra giant tortoise in this undated photo. (Courtesy of the National Zoo)

Posted: 14 March 2014
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