Hello everyone! I hope summer is treating you well. Here in Washington, D.C., of course, it's hot! But it's my 34th summer here, so I'm used to it.
It's no secret; Barack Obama's Presidency is counting down. Less than 6 months remain, and the most common question I get these days is, "What's next?" Sometimes I say, "Sleep!" Sometimes I say, "A very long list of home projects." Sometimes I say, "I dunno. What's next for you?" That usually gets a reaction!
Well, here's what's next for me. I've been offered and have accepted the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). I'm very excited about this because I'll be leading an organization and a community that is a force, and importantly, aspires to be an even better force in wildlife conservation.
Leaving the Service will be difficult. But I'm not leaving yet! When I took the job of Director, I made a personal commitment to serve through this Administration, so I requested, and the AZA Board generously agreed to let me complete my term. So, you're stuck with me until January 20, and I'll save my farewells until then.
And we have a lot to do! Mitigation policy; IUCN conference; Refuge oil and gas regulations; CITES COP; Grizzly bear delisting; Bald and Golden Eagle Act Regulations; MBTA permit framework; California water and delta smelt; Monarch butterfly (you didn't think I'd forget the Monarch!); Alaska predator rule; prairie potholes; furthering workforce diversity and inclusion; and hopefully, with a little help from Tom Melius and Region 3, a visitor center to dedicate, at the Detroit River International Fish and Wildlife Refuge!! Whew!!! That is a lot. And of course, there's more.
Between now and then, I'm recused from participating personally and substantially in any particular matter that would have a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of AZA. And I've been recused since discussions with AZA began, back in May.
In the meantime, I'm proud to continue serving as Director. I will continue to give the job -- and all of you -- my very best, and I intend to sprint through the finish line. As you always have, l know you'll kick into high gear and sprint with me!