Tara Stoinski, Ph.D., a leading primatologist who has lived in Atlanta for 23 years, is the new president and chief executive officer of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Stoinski will also serve as the organization’s Chief Scientific Officer.
Stoinski has served part-time with the Fossey Fund since 2002, in the role of chief scientist and later as vice president. At the same time, she also served as director of primate research at Zoo Atlanta, where the Fossey Fund has its U.S. headquarters.
Stoinski succeeds Clare Richardson, who guided the Fossey Fund as president and chief executive officer for 19 years. Richardson will now take on the title of president emeritus, strategic initiatives officer.
Stoinski is a widely published expert in primate behavior, involving research projects in Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Brazil, as well as multiple zoos across the United States, according to a press release from the Dian Fossey organization. In 1994, she began her Ph.D. program in psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her advisor was Terry L. Maple, Ph.D., a Georgia Tech professor and former Zoo Atlanta director.
“Tara immediately contributed to the growing literature on gorilla behavior, conservation, and management, and elevated the visibility of Zoo Atlanta as an institutional leader among world zoos committed to protecting and understanding gorillas,” Maple said in a press release. “The strong partnership between Zoo Atlanta and the Fossey Fund is important, and Tara will strengthen the bonds.”
In addition to her 20 years of primatological research, Stoinski has been an adjunct faculty member at Emory University and Georgia Tech and has helped guide many local students toward careers in primatology, animal behavior, conservation and related subjects.
Stoinski is also a leader in the global primate conservation world, including serving on the executive committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Section on Great Apes, chairing the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Ape Taxon Advisory Group, and serving as a management group member and conservation advisor for AZA’s Gorilla Species Survival Plan.