Senior Staff

L. Ronald Forman
President & Chief Executive Officer

A past president of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Ron Forman began his tenure with Audubon Park and Zoological Garden in 1972 as City Hall liaison. Made Deputy Director in 1973 and Executive Director in 1977, the major transformation of Audubon Zoo from an "urban ghetto" to an "urban Eden" was underway.

During the 1980's, Audubon Nature Institute, Inc. evolved from the Friends of the Zoo organization and assumed operation of Audubon Park and Zoo. Plans were made, with overwhelming voter support, for a downtown park and aquarium. Woldenberg Riverfront Park opened in 1989 and was followed in 1990 by Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

The Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center on the West Bank of the Mississippi River opened late in 1993. An important component of it, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, opened in 1996. 

Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, located in Eastern New Orleans, merged into the family of Audubon facilities in 1994. The Nature Center, devastated by Hurricane Katrina, operates the programs at the Audubon Wilderness Park located adjacent to the Species Survival Center.

The Entergy IMAX® Theatre, adjacent to Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, opened in October of 1995, while phase II of the Aquarium, a changing exhibits gallery, opened in the spring of 1996. Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, located in the U.S. Custom House, opened in 2008.

Forman serves locally on the New Orleans Business Council, is Chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District and the Immediate Past Chairman of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau. A past member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Museums, he is also on the Advisory Committee of Chimp Haven.

Read more about Ron Forman.


Audubon Nature Institute Senior Staff:

  • Ron Forman—President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Bill Kurtz—Senior Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff
  • Larry Rivarde—Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Zoo and Park
  • Karyn Kearney—Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Aquarium, IMAX®,
         Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Woldenberg Park
  • Laurie Conkerton—Executive Vice President for Development
  • Richard Buchsbaum—Vice President of Food & Beverage and Special Events
  • Clyde Butler—Senior Vice President of Construction
  • Joel Hamilton—Vice President and General Curator
  • Steve Dorand—Senior Vice President of Design & Exhibitry
  • Chimene Grant—Vice President of Marketing
  • John Hewitt—Senior Vice President/Director of Animal Husbandry 
  • Debra McGuire—Vice President/Gift Shops
  • Toni Mobley—Vice President of Human Resources
  • David Niebuhr—Vice President of Education