Like many children growing up in San Diego, Maggie Aleksic spent a lot of time at the San Diego Zoo visiting the animals. A nature-lover from the start, Maggie often played “keeper” at home and would bring injured snakes, birds, and rabbits into the house, much to her parents’ dismay. Eventually she learned to leave wildlife rescue to the experts, but one thing was clear: Maggie would work for Zoo one day and make a career of helping animals.
For the past seven years, Maggie has worked with San Diego Zoo Global’s Development team to help raise funds for the Zoo and Safari Park. As a Major Gifts Officer, she works closely with the Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, where she is able to support the Zoo’s global effort to protect wildlife and habitats.
Maggie loves to travel and explore different cultures, and believes in the adage that one’s destination isn’t just a place: it’s a new way of seeing things. A past Zoo escort to the People’s Republic of China, Maggie is excited for her upcoming adventure with the San Diego Zoo to Botswana.
San Diego native Georgeanne Irvine has devoted more than three decades of her career to raising awareness about animals and wildlife conservation. By day, she is associate director of communications for the development department of the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, where she has worked for more than 36 years. In her spare time “George” is the author of more than 20 children’s books, including the Zoo World series published by Simon & Schuster, plus numerous magazine, newspaper, and web articles. George’s most recent work is the coffee table book, “The Katrina Dolphins: One-Way Ticket to Paradise,” which is a true story about 8 dolphins from an oceanarium who were washed out to sea during Hurricane Katrina and dramatically rescued.
George’s passions are travel, photography, storytelling, Broadway musicals, and, of course, animals and conservation. Her worldwide adventures have taken her to some of the wildest places on Earth—from the jungles of Borneo and South America to the forests and wetlands of India to the mountains of China as well as the savannas of Africa and Australia’s Outback. She is looking forward to exploring Madagascar with our WorldWild Tours travelers and is excited to see lemurs and other unique animals in their native habitat.
A native of the New York area, Julia Altieri moved to San Diego over ten years ago and fell in love with California. As Development Coordinator at the San Diego Zoo, she brings in estate gifts that fund major projects at the Zoo and Safari Park. Julia also manages the WorldWild Tours program, working with tour operators and passengers to ensure the best, most exciting wildlife travel experiences possible.
Julia has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the Pratt Institute and has worked for non-profit organizations her entire professional career. She is endlessly curious about wildlife, culture, and the arts and previously worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Julia is an avid traveler and is excited to add China, with its rich history and charming pandas, to her list of adventures.
Justin Weber’s dreams of working with wildlife started at the age of five when he first visited the San Diego Zoo and met a blind harbor seal named Corky. Since then, his love for marine mammals and wildlife conservation has taken his career on quite the wild ride! He’s worked with a variety of animals large and small at several accredited zoos and aquariums and now uses that experience to share the same inspiration he gained as a little tyke in his new role as the Digital Fundraising Coordinator for San Diego Zoo Global. His career has come full circle as he now works on behalf of those critically endangered species, raising support and spreading the message of conservation through the web, email, and social media.
Justin loves to travel and has visited every state in the United States except for Alaska. He spends much of his time laughing with friends and family, sightseeing, cooking, and is an avid fan of live entertainment and the arts.
Justin’s excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience polar bears in the wild, a threatened marine mammal, and spend several days on the Arctic tundra with our WorldWild Tours travelers as we dogsled and partake in all the adventures of this icy wonderland!
Karen Isaacs has had a unique and varied career in the world of conservation and business! Although Karen is currently San Diego Zoo Global’s Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer, she was initiated into the conservation field by living in Namibia and working for the Cheetah Conservation Fund with Dr. Laurie Marker.
Karen grew up in rural eastern Washington, surrounded by animals. She took the practical career route and received a BA in Business from Washington State University and an MBA from the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. After spending many years in international sales and marketing, Karen returned to school. She studied Exotic Animal Training and Management at Moorpark College in California, proving it’s never too late to follow one’s dreams!
After graduation, Karen lived in Namibia before returning to the U.S. to work at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s bird show with their ambassador animals. After volunteering and eventually working for a local animal shelter, she combined her love of animals with her background in business to begin her career in fund-raising.
Karen still has a sweet spot for rescued animals, including her own dog from Puerto Rico as well as several boxers. In addition to spending time with her pups, Karen loves to travel, watching Pac-12 football, and playing golf and tennis. Karen is looking forward to revisiting the country where the people and animals are so close to her heart as well as sharing her knowledge and stories with our travelers.