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OKC Zoo News Releases


The Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) is pleased to announce the hiring of Mandy Heaps as Executive Director.  She joins OZS with over 17 years of fundraising and non-profit programming experience including major gifts, capital, and annual giving campaigns.

Heaps hails from Osprey, Florida just south of Sarasota and has found her home over the past two decades in Oklahoma City. She graduated with a BA in Mass Communication from Oklahoma City University where she served as the student body president. She also earned her MA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Oklahoma. After graduating, she progressed to positions at Public Strategies, Inc., the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, and the United Way of Central of Oklahoma. Most recently, Heaps has been the Senior Director and Team Lead for the Oklahoma State Foundation, where she operated in Development for over 7 years.

“We are so pleased and excited to have Mandy on board,” stated Dustin Fredrick, Oklahoma Zoological Society Board President-Elect. “Her skill set, experience, and ability to connect with members and donors will help guide our organization and the Oklahoma City Zoo toward an outstanding and productive partnership.”

Heaps has long been a contributing member of her community serving in a variety of volunteer capacities including Junior League of Oklahoma City where she serves as Past-President. She is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City’s LOYAL Class III and has served for the Association for Women in Communications as well as Chapter Advisor for the Alpha Phi sorority at Oklahoma City University, where she was awarded the Greek Advisor of the Year award in 2018. Heaps has also been recognized by the Oklahoma City Friday paper has one of the city’s rising stars as well as one of the 50 Most Powerful Young Professionals for two consecutive years.

Dr. Dwight Lawson, Executive Director/CEO of the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden offered, “Mandy is a great addition to our team at the Oklahoma City Zoo and we are pleased with the experience and enthusiasm she brings to our organization. We look forward to working with Mandy and OZS as we continue a great partnership that will have a positive and lasting impact on the enhancements we plan to bring to our patrons and their zoo experience.”

Mandy and her husband, Rob Vera, are long-time Northeast Oklahoma City residents and the proud parents of two cats, Vicki Vale and Archie. When not roaming around the Oklahoma City Zoo grounds or attending an exciting Zoo event, Mandy enjoys spending time relaxing and connecting with friends and family.

OZS was created in 1954 to support and promote the Oklahoma City Zoo and its four purposes of education, conservation, zoological research, and recreation. OZS works to accomplish these important objectives through membership sales, fundraising initiatives and capital campaigns. A dedicated and passionate group of community volunteers lead OZS as members of the board of directors.


About the Oklahoma City Zoo

As Oklahoma’s premier destination, the Oklahoma City Zoo is committed to connecting people and our world's vanishing wildlife and wild places. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok or by visiting


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