PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman is changing the face of leadership at the nation's oldest zoo, and she says this moment is not lost on her.
She will not only be the Philadelphia Zoo's 15th president, but the first African American, first woman and woman of color to serve in its 164 year history.
"The idea of being a zoo director - I went to zoos, that was my form of nature, but knowing I continue to be a role model, knowing this is a historic moment for Philadelphia is really cool," she said.
Dr. Mogerman describes herself as a city kid from a working class family who loves animals. She has been the director of the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri since 2019.
Before that, she worked as the vice president of learning and community in her hometown of Chicago at the city's Shedd Aquarium, and also spent 14 years in leadership roles at the the Illinois Brookfield Zoo.
She says when she was tapped for this new position, it wasn't even on her radar and she's hoping to bring her mission on conservation and education to the Philadelphia Zoo.
"To me, what makes a really impactful zoo is really getting to know the community and getting feedback on what is the best Philadelphia Zoo for the community. How can we advance what Philadelphia sees for itself moving forward? So, all of that contributes to my vision," said Dr. Mogerman.
It's a vision she says will take time as she gets acclimated to her new role. But what is clear is keeping the door open for other young people, especially those of color, to see what's possible.
"I've always made sure in my career that if I'm leading the way, that I have some chairs with me to make the table bigger so that others can sit at the table," she said.
Dr. Mogerman starts at the end of October.