Chimp Haven, The National Chimpanzee Sanctuary, announced today it has appointed Rana Smith as President and Chief Executive Officer. Smith, the former National Director of Development and Marketing for the Petco Foundation, will assume the role held by Cathy Willis Spraetz, who will retire in July 2017.

The nonprofit sanctuary was founded in 1995 in response to the need for long-term care for chimpanzees used in research. Chimp Haven is home to more than 200 retired chimpanzees. Encompassing 200 acres, it is one of the largest sanctuaries in the country and the only facility that cares for federally owned chimpanzees retired from biomedical research. Smith joins the sanctuary as it prepares for its next phase of growth, including the addition of 35 or more chimpanzees this year.

“To continue thriving as a principal chimpanzee sanctuary, it is important for us to bring in a proven nonprofit leader for our next phase of growth,” Chimp Haven Board of Directors Chair Steve Ross, Ph.D. said. “We have had a remarkable five years of growth under the leadership of Cathy Willis Spraetz and look forward to even more as Smith transitions into this important role.”

Smith, a graduate of the University of Arizona, comes to Chimp Haven as a highly accomplished nonprofit organizational leader and fundraiser. She has served in executive roles at United Ways in Phoenix, Austin and Dallas, the American Heart Association, and Best Friends Animal Society, where she drove strategic organizational growth and giving campaigns that garnered significant funding increases and donor retention.

“I am truly excited to begin a new chapter in my career with Chimp Haven,” Smith said. “Animal welfare is a cause that is deeply rooted in my heart, and it is an honor and privilege to be chosen as the next leader of such an incredible and important organization. I look forward to working with Chimp Haven’s staff to usher the sanctuary into its next phase of growth.”

Hundreds of chimpanzees have been designated for retirement to Chimp Haven following landmark decisions from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in recent years, ending decades of medical research using chimpanzees. More than 200 currently live at the sanctuary, and more than 300 are still awaiting placement.

“We are committed to ensuring that as many chimpanzees as possible have the opportunity to retire to the sanctuary,” Ross said. “The Board of Directors believes that Smith, with more than 25 years of nonprofit experience in human services and animal welfare, will lead our team to not only continue to care for the more than 200 chimpanzees who currently reside at Chimp Haven, but guide the organization to prepare for chimpanzees who are waiting to come to sanctuary.”