bee on a flower with sun in the background bee on a flower with sun in the background

Influencing for Impact: Systems, Communities, and Change

May 16-18, 2023
Birmingham, AL

Hosted By:

GLMV Zoos wilder side logoBirmingham Zoo logo

What is Echo?

Mike Clifford, Director of Innovation & Partnerships, discussed ECHO23’s theme


“Everyone is influencing the people around them one way or another” – Robin S. Sharma

As leaders and as organizations, we inevitably influence the world around us. Our actions have the capacity to transform individuals, move communities, and shake systems. And as Jane Goodall has said, it’s up to us to decide what kind of difference we want to make. At ECHO23, join us in learning from brilliant thinkers who have leveraged their role and organization for meaningful and lasting change.

ECHO is a small, annual gathering hosted by GLMV Zoos, the Zoo Division of GLMV Architecture. Previous host Zoos have included Sedgwick County Zoo (twice!), The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Akron Zoo, and North Carolina Zoo. Its 6th year will be held at the Birmingham Zoo.

ECHO exists because Zoos and Aquariums have unparalleled potential to captivate, fascinate, and empower future conservationists. To do so in an ever-complicated world, leaders must constantly reach for new and innovative ways to effectively deliver on their organization’s missions. Unlike many other industry conferences, ECHO provides space to explore challenges and opportunities through the lens of non-zoological experts.

Limited to 35 zoo & aquarium leaders, conversations are deep & connections meaningful. By crafting collisions between provocative ideas and courageous, creative people combined with candid dialogue, ECHO advances a vision for a revolutionary future of Zoos and Aquariums.

Chris Pfefferkorn, President & CEO of the Birmingham Zoo
invites you to Birmingham for ECHO23.


What Attendees Are Saying

echo attendees smiling on bench in host zoo



David Bindewald

Center for Play & Exploration

Diane Benscoter

Cult Deprogrammer

Niya Pickett Miller, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of
Communication Studies
Samford University

Libba Vaughan

Executive Director
Leadership Birmingham

Mark Wilson, MD

Health Officer
Jefferson County Department of Health

Allison L. Dearing

Executive Director
One Place Family Justice Center

Doug Jones

Former United States Senator

Graham C. Boettcher

The R. Hugh Daniel Director and CEO
Birmingham Museum of Art

Schedule at a Glance

Tuesday, May 16

Attendees Travel to Birmingham


Visit the Vulcan Park & Museum


Reception & Dinner, Location Top Secret
Welcome from Birmingham Mayor, Randall Woodfin

Wednesday, May 17


Breakfast at Birmingham Zoo & Tour Zoo's Pollinator Property Extension


Welcome from Birmingham Zoo Leadership


Key Thought Partner Session:
Recovering the Virtues of Curiosity, Freedom to Fail, and Divergent Thinking
Dave Bindewald, Center for Play & Exploration


Lunch at the Elephant Overlook


Key Thought Partner Session:
Counteracting Disinformation that Erodes Trust in Science
Diane Benscoter,


Siesta at Hotel

Cocktail Hour at The Roof, Hosted by SSA Group


Dinner & Play at the McWane Science Center

Thursday, May 18


Breakfast at Birmingham Zoo


Innovation Session:
Reclaiming Society's Reductive Identities
Niya Pickett Miller, Ph.D.

10:30 am

Innovation Session:
Risky Business: Hard Choices & Unpopular Decisions
Moderated by Libba Vaughan, Executive Director, Leadership Birmingham


Lunch and Tours at Trails of Africa


Innovation Session:
Justice for All: Bridging the Divides
Senator Doug Jones


Attendee Choice: Remain at Zoo or Siesta at Hotel


Closing Reception & Dinner at Birmingham Zoo


echo attendees learning during conference

ECHO23 is an All-Inclusive Experience

Your $1,495 Registration Fee Includes:

  • Programming: 2 days and 3 nights of workshops, presentations, and networking
  • Travel: Roundtrip airfare or mileage/car rental reimbursement
  • Transportation: Event-related ground transportation
  • Lodging: Hotel room for 3 nights
  • Dining: Event-related food & beverage

Attendance at ECHO is invitation only. Our curated guest list includes executive-level leaders from zoos and aquariums in the U.S. and Canada. If you are not yet on our guest list and would like to be considered, please email ECHO is a high-energy, deep-thinking, and intimate gathering, and as such, seats are limited. A small number of scholarships are available for leaders who may not otherwise be able to attend.

Travel information

speaker standing in front of Imagine a better future sign

Travel to ECHO23 is easy! Let us help with arrangements. Registration includes:

  • Travel: Roundtrip airfare* or mileage/car rental reimbursement.
  • Event-related ground transportation
  • Hotel room for 3 nights

*Applies to continental flights.

rooftop bar at redmont hotel in birmingham

ECHO23 Conference Hotel

Redmont Hotel Birmingham
Curio Collection by Hilton

2101 5th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203

View Hotel

attendees at echo exploring the rainforest of host zoo

Flying to ECHO23

We have partnered with Ken Brodbeck of Prairie Travel to coordinate air travel. Upon registration, Ken will contact attendees to make arrangements.

  • Travelers will fly in and out of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
  • Arriving flights Tuesday, May 16 will be scheduled for the morning & arrive before 4:00 pm. Departing flights will be scheduled for Friday, May 19.
  • Airline tickets will be issued in economy class on the most convenient and cost-effective routes.
  • Any changes or cancellations after tickets have been issued will be subject to penalties, which will be the sole responsibility of the traveler.
  • Baggage fees, seat upgrades, and other extras will be the responsibility of travelers, but can be arranged with Mr. Brodbeck.
  • GLMV will provide transportation to and from the airport.

Driving to ECHO23

Those intending to drive to ECHO23 are responsible for securing their own transportation and should arrive at the conference hotel by 4:00 pm Tuesday, May 16. We will reimburse the roundtrip cost of a rental car, fuel, and parking. If the roundtrip mileage is under 300 miles, attendees may drive their personal vehicles and be reimbursed at the current IRS mileage rate (2023: $0.655/mile). Drivers must submit receipts to receive reimbursement.



SSA Group logo



Photos from ECHO22