AOS welcomes new event coordinator


Hi, I’m Lauren Gates, the new event coordinator for AOS; I’m so excited to join this team and support the work of the many AOS member volunteers! I hope to bring extraordinary energy, enthusiasm, and passion to AOS in this next chapter of my career. I recently moved from Atlanta, Ga. to Chicago, Ill., and am enjoying settling into a new-to-me city, somehow having survived my first Chicago winter!

For more than 10 years, I have worked in the nonprofit world with organizations focused on wildlife conservation and human rights issues. Throughout (and following) my education at Reinhardt University, I pursued, through photography and journalism, opportunities with several different nonprofit organizations, traveling to Kenya from 2010–2016 to photograph the important work of a social impact organization and to Nepal in 2015 as a volunteer photographer to support and document the work of She Is Safe, a group working to end human trafficking.

In my last semester of college, I was thrilled to receive an internship with Zoo Atlanta. From a very young age, I’ve been entranced by animals and this opportunity was certainly a dream come true. When my internship ended, I accepted a full-time position in the Zoo’s events department and was fortunate to spend eight more years working alongside an incredible team of both animal and human coworkers. 

In my most recent role as a public events specialist with Zoo Atlanta, I supported 15–25 events annually, ranging in size from small 100-person book signings to a Halloween festival with more than 10,000 attendees per day. During events, I also supervised all part-time and contract staff, interns, and volunteers. Working in this unique environment certainly afforded me a wide variety of experiences over the years. Our events team successfully navigated everything from an animal escape during VIP hour at a sold-out beer festival to the creation of temporary film locations for Hollywood film producers to driving ZooMobiles full of animal enrichment items, i.e., 70+ watermelons and a tub full of live rainbow trout (hint: always use a lid!). 

Overall, I have been so grateful to have had a career that I’ve truly enjoyed and work that I look forward to doing every day. I definitely feel most fulfilled and inspired when I’m able to support a cause I care about. Thank you for making me a part of the AOS team; I am looking forward to working alongside and getting to know each of you.

A few fun facts about me: I have five sisters; the youngest three are triplets. I grew up around horses and competed in Three-Day Eventing for more than 15 years. I love hiking; to date, my biggest hike was Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2019, when I summited Uhuru Peak on International Women’s Day with an all-women’s group that had just met on that trip.


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