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National Aviary appoints interim director to permanent post

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 2:48 p.m.
Cheryl Tracy had been interim executive director of the National Aviary since November. The aviary's board has named her managing director/chief operating officer on a permanent basis.

Though the National Aviary's last two directors had strained relationships with members of the nonprofit's board, the woman hired to lead the bird zoo insists that she has a good working relationship with them.

“I think it's very positive for the future of the aviary,” said Cheryl Tracy, who becomes its new managing director and chief operating officer on July 1.

The North Side aviary announced on Wednesday that it is removing Tracy's interim executive director tag — about a month after the 21-member board of trustees voted unanimously to hire her on a permanent basis.

Tracy, 49, replaces Patrick Mangus Jr., whom the aviary fired in November after he clashed with the board. Mangus took the top job after Linda Dickerson abruptly resigned in 2009. Tracy joined the aviary six years ago as chief financial officer.

The aviary would not disclose how much she will make in her new position. Mangus earned $124,621 in 2011, according to the aviary's most recently filed tax Form 990.

“Based on the … job that Cheryl was doing as the interim, it was sitting right there in front of us,” said board Chairman Michael Mascaro, who declined to comment on friction with past directors.

Tracy of South Park is a Penn State University graduate and certified public accountant with more than 20 years of business experience, the aviary said.

Membership and the number of educational programs have increased under Tracy, said Mascaro, who said the board did not see any other candidates for the job.

Tracy said admissions, gift-shop sales and membership are up 20 percent over a year ago.

Tracy said she has filled three key management positions — directors of marketing and animal programs and grant writer — that had been vacant since last summer.

The aviary also has added new programming, promoting different bird species and events such as eagles and falcons weekends, as part of general admission, Tracy said.

The aviary also is trying to promote itself as more than a regional attraction by highlighting its advanced avian medical program and its conservation and field research department, she said.

“We have over 500 birds, and they are all unique and they all have their own stories to tell. … So we're always looking for new and creative ways to tell their stories because our birds are really the ambassadors for their species,” Tracy said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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