Save the Chimps, the leading non-profit organization dedicated to providing permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of rescued chimpanzees, today announced Michelle “Shelly” Lakly as Executive Director of the organization, effective September 3, 2019.

In this role, Lakly will invigorate the staff, board, and community to support a renewed vision for Save the Chimps, provide a hands-on approach to fundraising and growth, maintain and expand existing programs to the highest standards, and communicate effectively with the various stakeholders.

Prior to joining Save the Chimps, Lakly worked for The Nature Conservancy, most recently as Managing Director, Saving Great Rivers Program. Prior to that she served as Eastern Division Executive Director, Executive Director, Florida, and Executive Director, Georgia. Before that, Lakly held a variety of roles at Zoo Atlanta, including Vice President of Education and Conservation Programs, Director, Academy for Conservation Training, and Director of Education.

“Shelly is an experienced conservation executive with a stellar track record of accomplishment in fundraising and team building,” said Jon Stryker, Board Chair of Save the Chimps. “As both a strategic leader and trained scientist, she has the ability to inspire and invigorate those around her into action.”

“I am thrilled to be joining an organization with such a rich and successful history of animal welfare,” said Lakly. “Their vital programs have made such an important difference and I can’t wait to join the team and build upon that amazing work.”

Lakly holds a Doctor of Philosophy, Ecology, a Master of Science, Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development, and a Bachelor of Science, all from the University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology-Athens. Her accolades include a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Award and a U.S. Department of the Interiors Partners in Conservation Award.

About Save the Chimps:

Founded in 1997, Save the Chimps is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories and retired from the entertainment industry and the pet trade. Every day the staff and volunteers of Save the Chimps provide daily care to over 240 chimpanzee residents spread out over 12 islands on 150 acres. For more information, visit