Arts & Entertainment, Human Resources, and Travel & Tourism

John Ball Zoo names CEO

November 13, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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Peter D'Arienzo
Peter D'Arienzo. Photo via

A Grand Rapids cultural institution has a new leader.

John Ball Zoo said today that it has named Peter D’Arienzo its CEO, effective in January.

Kevin O’Neill, who served as CEO the first two years of the zoo’s transition to nonprofit management, will retire on Dec. 31.

The zoo will celebrate its 125th year in 2016 and is home to more than 1,500 animals.

“The board feels Peter brings experience and a skill set that will blend well with the strong staff already in place at the Zoo," said Kyle Irwin, board president, John Ball Zoo. “We know he believes in a collaborative leadership style and that’s exactly what we were looking for.”

D’Arienzo said John Ball Zoo has “a great story and exciting plans for the future.”

“I am truly looking forward to being a part of that future,” he said.


D’Arienzo joins the John Ball Zoo team after serving as the director of operations at the Kansas City Zoo.

In Kansas City, he led a team of 17 departments and their directors, with responsibilities ranging from general operations to guest satisfaction.

Prior to his zoo work, he worked with Donaldson Company International as a plant human resources and EHS manager.

He began his career with American Multi-Cinema, or AMC, as a theater staff member and worked his way up to corporate director during his 20 years with the company.

He’s a graduate of Rockhurst University in Kansas City. 

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