News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
October 23, 2023

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Chicago Zoological Society Honors Recipients at Conservation Leadership Awards Dinner

Brookfield, Ill. — The Chicago Zoological Society’s Board of Trustees and Women’s Board hosted  its 20th annual Conservation Leadership Awards Dinner on October 3. During the evening, recipients were honored for their collective impact and commitment to conservation and animal welfare. The fundraiser, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, was attended by approximately 250 guests. The event raised nearly $335,000, with proceeds benefitting the Society’s conservation, education, and animal programs at Brookfield Zoo.

The annual dinner recognizes those who share CZS’s mission by inspiring conservation leadership, engaging the community with wildlife, and leading the charge in animal advocacy and welfare. This year’s honorees are protecting animals around the world by creating and fostering meaningful connections between individuals, communities, and nature.

This year’s recipient of the George B. Rabb Conservation Medal is Dr. Jan Ramer, senior vice president of animal care and conservation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds, for her conservation work with Gorilla Doctors and her commitment to veterinary medicine. Dr. Ramer spent the early days of her career at Brookfield Zoo as a primate care specialist before pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Wisconsin in 1995 and working as an associate veterinarian at the Indianapolis Zoo. In 2007, she achieved diplomate status in the American College of Zoological Medicine. Then, Dr. Ramer pursued her dream of working in conservation medicine as regional manager for the nonprofit Gorilla Doctors—the only organization in the world dedicated to saving the mountain and eastern lowland gorilla species, one gorilla patient at a time, using veterinary medicine and science with a One Health approach. During her four years with the organization, she led a team of dedicated international veterinarians in providing hands-on medical care to ill and injured gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She now serves on the organization’s board of directors.

The Corwith Hamill Lifetime Achievement Conservation Award was presented to the Christopher and Schueler families for their leadership and dedication to Brookfield Zoo. Accepting the award was Doris Christopher, who instilled her family’s love of Brookfield Zoo, which continues today across three generations. Together, through the Christopher Family Foundation, they have been long-standing supporters of the Zoo’s teacher training program. The Christopher Family Foundation Education Wing in the Zoo’s Mary Ann MacLean Conservation Leadership Center was named in honor of their generous support in 2013. And, in 2015, the Christopher Family Plaza was dedicated at the center of Hamill Family Wild Encounters, where Zoo guests gather and enjoy the natural surroundings and animal habitats. Kelley Schueler was elected to the Zoo’s Board of Trustees in 2014, and Doris Christopher has served as a governing member since 2011.

This year’s recipient of the Edith Rockefeller McCormick Partnership Award is the Steering Committee and Public Campaign Committee for the Vote Yes Campaign. Benjamin Cox, executive director of Friends of the Forest Preserves, accepted the award on behalf of the Campaign, which was organized for the 2022 election to encourage Cook County residents to “vote yes” on a referendum for a small property tax increase to fund projects that support clean water sources, air quality, and protect our wildlife, as well as maintenance on public lands.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people to wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit