Shaun McKinnon of The Arizona Republic wrote a beautiful story about how the $2 million Isle of the Tiger project at the Phoenix Zoo came to be. I heard another beautiful zoo story on Thursday, the night of the grand opening celebration of the exhibit.
Here’s a passage from Lisa Shover’s speech to about 450 people. (Lisa represented the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, a major donor:
“Back in the early 1960s, the Zoo’s fledgling budget was unable to afford a top-level executive. Nina believed that in order for The Zoo to grow and thrive it must have great leadership.
“Not to be deterred from the Zoo realizing the best, Nina quietly placed Zoo director Jack Tinker on the newspapers’ payroll throughout the decade.
“As was Nina’s way. No one was to know. It was the right thing to do. And Nina could do it. As a matter of fact, when my father (Bill Shover) discovered Jack’s salary as part of his department’s budget, Nina told him it was not his to discuss with her nor anyone else!”
Of course, this was in an age before the fixation on building brand and executive self-promotion. It was before coarse politics that corrupt all aspects of modern life pushed down business leadership’s ability (desire?) to act purposefully for the greater good — just because it’s the right thing to do.
It was great to hear Lisa’s stories about Nina Pulliam, a journalist, business leader and humanitarian. Nina was a visionary who focused her considerable energy and resources on causes that serve the community she loved. She died in 1997. But look at the tiger exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo. Her legacy of doing the right thing continues.