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Micke Grove Zoological Society Board of Directors Welcomes New Members
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Micke Grove Zoological Society Board of Directors Welcomes New Members

The Micke Grove Zoological Society (MGZS), the non-profit organization serving to support and enhance Micke Grove Zoo and its services, elected five new members to its Board of Directors this fiscal year. The newest directors include Walter Bozich, Helena Fitch-Snyder, Art Hand Jr., Manuel Lopez, and Ken Nieland.

Walter Bozich has more than 30 years of experience in the banking industry as a Branch Manager and Region and District Appraisal Manager. He currently serves as the Branch Manager for the Bank of Stockton’s Lodi branch. A long-time resident of Lodi, he has brought both his children and grandchildren to Micke Grove Zoo to enjoy its peaceful surroundings and curious wildlife. Bozich was appointed the 1st Vice President of the MGZS Board of Directors with a term ending in 2017.

Helena Fitch-Snyder is an animal behaviorist professional with a strong background in primate research and captive management, reproduction, education, and field conservation. She has been published in more than 20 books and scientific publications and has presented at more than 40 conferences. Fitch-Snyder has 28 years of experience as a researcher and Education Specialist with the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park facilities. She also served as the Grant and Program Developer for the MGZS for one year before joining the Board of Directors. Fitch-Snyder attended Micke Grove Zoo as a child and has a personal connection to the institution.

Art Hand Jr. is the current President of Giving Opportunities to Kids, a local non-profit aiming to enhance the educational, vocational, and co-curricular opportunities of students attending schools in the Lodi Unified School District (LUSD). Hand also co-chairs the local non-profit Partners in Education.  He worked 17 years within the Stockton Unified School District, leaving his position as Executive Director of Support Services to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Planning for the LUSD for the next 14 years, retiring in 2012. His company, Full Business2 Solutions, aims to help Northern California school districts resolve their facility and business concerns. His youngest of four children is currently a volunteer for the Micke Grove Zoo Education Department.

Manuel Lopez began his career in San Joaquin County in 1985 as the Deputy Director of the Public Works Department. He then served as the Public Works Director in 2000 and was appointed as the County Administrator in 2001. Lopez finished his tenure as the longest serving County Administrator in the history of San Joaquin County and recently started an engineering and government services consulting business, Lopez Engineering and Consulting. Lopez and his wife have been married for nearly 40 years and together they have four children and seven grandchildren.

Ken Nieland worked at Micke Grove Zoo for nearly 33 years before retiring in 2012. During his early tenure as the Zoo Interpretive Services Manager, he and the staff achieved the zoo’s accreditation with the Association for Zoos and Aquariums in only 11 years. After his retirement, Nieland served on the Development Committee for the MGZS, and agreed to serve as the organization’s Board President with a term ending in 2017.

“I look forward to working with the Micke Grove Zoological Society board members, zoo staff, and San Joaquin County leaders to define and pursue a shared vision and action plan for a high quality Micke Grove Zoo,” shared Nieland. “We want to see Micke Grove Zoo as a leader in the zoo profession and as a source of pride for the San Joaquin County community.”

Nieland describes Micke Grove Zoo as a unique, regional asset - one of less than two dozen zoos in the entire state. Reflecting on his personal experience and knowledge of the zoo, he describes it as having a remarkable history of quality education and animal management programs. Importantly, the Micke Grove Zoo has worked in cooperation with other institutions throughout the United States and beyond to manage and breed critically endangered species.

“Building on these prior achievements and forging a productive future for the Zoo will require a renewed commitment to quality in all aspects of its operations,” continued Nieland. “We look forward to working with San Joaquin County to advance Micke Grove Zoo through a series of ongoing improvements, including continued excellence in conservation education, quality animal exhibits, and a commitment to species conservation.”

The MGZS would also like to thank those that recently completed their tenure with the Board of Directors: Wayne Craig, Wayne Diede, and Ruth Kessel.

Micke Grove Zoo is located within Micke Grove Regional Park at 11793 N. Micke Grove Road in Lodi, California. The Micke Grove Zoological Society is a non-profit organization that benefits Micke Grove Zoo through financial support, educational opportunities and community involvement. For more information about the Society, please visit the zoo website, For more information about San Joaquin County parks, please visit

Micke Grove Zoological Society - 2014 Board of Directors

Ken Nieland, President
Walter Bozich, 1st Vice President
David Wellenbrock, 2nd Vice President
Barbara Moore, Treasurer
Linda Jimenez, Secretary
Judith Buethe
Catey Campora
Diana DeBruno
Helena Fitch-Snyder
Art Hand, Jr.
Paul Kozlow
Manuel Lopez
Wendy Moore
Dr. Richard Tenaza
John Douglas Van Sant

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