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MN: New leadership at International Wolf Center

Keith Vandervort

ELY – With 25 years of experience in wildlife education and zoo leadership in Minnesota and Oregon, Grant Spickelmier will take the helm of the International Wolf Center as executive director in mid-January.

Spickelmier comes from the Oregon Zoo in Portland after eight years as curator of conservation learning. He previously served multiple roles, including assistant director of education, at Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.

“Grant brings the skills and experience the wolf center needs to help spark public awareness and dialogue based on powerful science-based wolf education,” said wolf center board chair Nancy Jo Tubbs.

He’ll lead a staff of about 16 at the interpretive center in Ely and the organization’s Minneapolis office, where he will be based.

“I’m honored to be chosen to lead the world’s pre-eminent wolf organization,” Spickelmier said. “Since I first heard a wolf howl in northern Minnesota, I’ve been hooked on helping this species recover in the United States. At the Minnesota Zoo, I created programs about wolves for kids and adults. I led travel programs in Alaska and with the International Wolf Center in Minnesota.”

Spickelmier’s work has focused on fundraising, strategic planning, partnerships, exhibit development, and management of large teams of staff and volunteers. He co-wrote the WolfQuest internet game used at the wolf center, that is considered to be the premier wolf simulation game with 900,000 online players.

“I hope to continue building the wolf center’s leadership team successfully led by administrator Chad Richardson in recent months, as we work to increase public understanding of how wolves and humans can successfully coexist,” Spickelmier said.

He was chosen by the center’s board in partnership with a Minneapolis-based firm, CohenTaylor Executive Search, which conducted an extensive national search, according to Tubbs.

The International Wolf Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The center educates through its website, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and the interpretive center in Ely.