Detroit Zoological Society
  • Education
  • Royal Oak, MI, USA
  • Salary
  • Full-time

Full medical, dental, vision benefits, 401k match, generous PTO policy


The Evaluation Specialist, under general supervision, advances the Detroit Zoological Society's mission, vision and evaluation capacity building efforts by managing the Zoo's audience-based research and evaluation programs. He/She oversees and implements projects that progress the Zoo's lifelong learning about and impact on audiences. The Specialist will plan and implement evaluation of Zoo strategic activities, targeting guests and community members as well as ongoing baseline studies. He/She will engage with internal and external stakeholders on all projects. The Specialist will work closely with the Exhibit Design Specialist to conduct formative, summative and impact evaluation on current and new exhibits, graphics and signs. He/She will work with staff to provide evaluative and strategic thinking to all projects. He/She will provide direction to colleagues, volunteers and/or interns working as research and evaluation assistants.    

The Evaluation Specialist will support, both publicly and privately, the principles of the Detroit Zoological Society. He/She will support and enhance a clean, safe, enjoyable, and educational experience at the Detroit Zoological facilities by actively engaging in the enforcement of Customer Service Standards, and specifically by knowing and understanding the Detroit Zoological Society's "SCOPE" of service, animal care, community relations and park appearance guidelines; by enforcing safety and security policies, and following all other policies set by the organization. The Evaluation Specialist will maintain a professional manner when dealing with all constituencies and always preserve a high level of integrity, professionalism and confidentiality.

This job description is by no means all-inclusive and may be subject to change during a performance period due to the needs of the Detroit Zoological Society and its leadership. This document will be reviewed on a continual basis and will be modified as needed.


Authority and Accountability

The Evaluation Specialist has the authority to carry out the job requirements and responsibilities and is accountable to a Curator of Exhibit Design.


Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • Manage Audience Research and Evaluation Projects: along with a Curator of Exhibit Design, uses theory of change strategies to develop, implement, and evaluate research and evaluation plans; creates and reports on project timelines; develops, pilots, and implements instruments that measure effectiveness of exhibits, Detroit Zoo strategic initiatives, and Detroit Zoo programs; ensures that methodologies measure program alignment with Zoo and departmental missions and values; manages data entry, analysis, findings and recommendations; continually advocates for understanding and improving the guest experience. Ensures integrity, respect, cultural relevancy, accuracy and usefulness of all studies.
  • Staff Management and Professional Growth: Recruits, trains, evaluates, and fosters growth of staff, volunteers and interns who support projects through data collection, data entry and analysis. Motivates, teaches, encourages and creates a collaborative and creative learning environment. Learns alongside teammates.
  • Building Capacity: Provide all Detroit Zoo staff with knowledge and skills to understand evaluation processes and importance through inclusive project strategies, technical assistance, reporting strategies and direct trainings.
  • Dissemination: Shares research and evaluation findings through Zoo internal communication, reports to funders, journal articles and presentations at regional and national meetings and conferences.
  • Strategic and Evaluative Thinking: Infuses creative, analytical and critical thinking to all projects.
  • Professional Practice: Remains current with trends and best practices of education, research and evaluation in formal and informal learning environments through literature, professional development and networking with other professionals.
  • Zoo Leadership: Represents the department and advocates for audiences in the Zoo and the community; schedules and leads meetings; and provides leadership and professional development opportunities to staff.
  • Program Finances: Monitors budgetary expenses, revenue and expenditures; writes grant proposals and reports as needed.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Effective at engaging with diverse stakeholders; works proactively to problem-solve with Zoo staff, committees and volunteers through emails, meetings and phone; creates and shares reports; acts as a liaison among staff, volunteers and professional colleagues in the informal education community.
  • Other specific duties and responsibilities may be assigned based upon departmental needs. 

Working Conditions

Work is performed indoors in a typical office environment and frequently outdoors, with exposure to all seasonal weather conditions. Frequent exposure to the public by guiding and speaking to small and large groups.


Physical Requirements

Able to perform essential functions which typically involve seeing well enough to read standard text, often on video display monitors; speaking, lecturing and giving clear instructions; standing or walking to guide small and large groups. Must be able to lift and carry up to 20 pounds. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.


 Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities


  • Passion for advancing the Detroit Zoological Society's mission.
  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited university in social sciences, public policy and/or related area; formal coursework in research methodology preferred, advanced degree preferred.
  • Proven ability in conducting social science research and evaluation studies.
  • At least three years of professional experience in non-formal/formal environmental or science education in a zoo/museum/related setting.
  • Experience leading and coordinating team projects.
  • Skills in program development using logic models and backwards design program development.
  • Motivated by inquisitiveness and a belief in the value of evidence.
  • Skilled in identifying assumptions, posting thoughtful questions, pursuing deeper understanding through reflection and perspective taking and making informed decisions to prepare for action.
  • Strong conceptual and analytic skills (quantitative and qualitative).
  • Exceptional communication, interpersonal and team facilitation skills.
  • Ability to function and provide leadership in a multi-task environment, both independently and in a team.
  • Proficient use of computer software for word processing, information searching and retrieval, data analysis and communication.



  • Knowledge of Michigan's Core Curriculum and the Grade Level Content Expectations a plus.
  • Demonstrated leadership involvement in industry organizations (e.g. Association of Zoos and Aquariums, American Alliance of Museums, Visitor Studies Association, National Association of Interpretation, Association of Science and Technology Centers).


Detroit Zoological Society
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