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Stories of Leadership: Georgeanne Irvine

Georgeanne Irvine, '77, has devoted nearly 35 years of her career to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.

Georgeanne “George” Irvine graduated in 1977 with Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. 

Growing up in San Diego, her mother would bring her to the zoo where she learned about animals, which became a passion for her.  She used this as inspiration to seek a job at the San Diego Zoo when she graduated from SDSU. 

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Georgeanne Irvine

A love of storytelling paved the way for freelance writing, which she does in her spare time. Irvine is the author of more than 20 children’s books about animals, the Zoo, and the Safari Park, including the Zoo World series published by Simon & Schuster, plus hundreds of magazine, newspaper and web articles.

She is currently associate director of communications/development and has devoted nearly 35 years of her colorful career to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.

Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?

After graduating from SDSU, I received a summer job with the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau. Then a position for public relations assistant opened at the Zoo.  I was one of the two finalists for the job but didn't get it. Six months later the position opened up again, they hired me, and I have worked for the Zoo ever since.

My first 22 1/2 years were spent in public relations, and now I am in development/fundraising. My duties have ranged from being a media spokesperson to escorting celebrities around the Zoo and animals to television shows (such as Johnny Carson’s "Tonight Show"), to accompanying an endangered Sumatran rhinoceros from Indonesia to San Diego, to creating collateral that helps the Zoo raise millions of dollars each year for conservation and new exhibits. 

Working at the Zoo is a dream come true for me and I have been very fortunate to be in a job that I love and that makes a difference for the world's precious wildlife.

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What is your favorite college memory?

Where do I begin — adventures with my Chi Omega sorority sisters, going on field trips to Las Vegas and San Francisco with the Advertising Club, my first day of sorority rush week, Sigma Chi “Derby Days”, hanging out in Aztec Center, football games — there are just so many. Because SDSU had such a large student population, I considered my sorority sisters and my journalism friends my family.

Who was your favorite professor and/or what was your favorite class?

Jack Haberstroh, Allen Center and Frederick C. Whitney. I had two favorite classes: advertising and children's theater.

If you were to give current SDSU students some advice, what would you say?


Work hard and play hard; find clubs and organizations that ignite your passion and your interests and get involved; be engaged throughout your college experience.  You don’t just learn in class but you learn through your social experiences throughout college.  Enjoy every minute of your college life—the years will fly by quickly!

What are you currently reading?  What’s your favorite book?

Right now, I'm writing more than reading because I have some new children's books in the works.  My reading revolves around the subjects of the books. One of my favorite books is "Gone With the Wind."

What is your passion?


My major passions include traveling, photography, storytelling, writing, Broadway musicals and, of course, animals and animal conservation.  I really like to help make a difference in the lives of people and animals.

What is your motto?

Celebrate the small moments. Appreciate every day by living life to the fullest.  Value the people in your life.  Love what you do. Have a mission. Most importantly, try to look on the bright side and have a positive attitude about life.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?

After celebrating, paying off the house, and fulfilling other personal obligations I would give some of it to conservation causes. And, I would have a travel and entertainment fund so I could trek through the jungles of Borneo and other wild places and see every Broadway musical.

Any other thoughts? 


I truly treasure and cherish my time at SDSU. I have a lot of fond memories of being a student. My time at SDSU helped set me up for what I do today. 

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