Michelle Conklin, Executive Director of the Tucson Botanical Gardens, began her career working for a broad spectrum of businesses, which included managing law, architectural and civil engineering firms. She expanded her skills by working as a sales executive for a financial management software company, and for a television network affiliate. Nearly 25 years ago she launched her career as a nonprofit leader, spanning the gamut from leading a Michigan visual and performing art center, a regional theater and an air and space museum. A Certified Fundraising Executive, in 2017, she was named Southern Arizona Fundraiser of the Year, and in 2018, Arizonia OnMedia awarded Michelle, CEO of the Year in the large nonprofit category.
She began her career with TBG in 2002, and in 2009 was appointed Executive Director. Through her leadership, she has led the Gardens from a small municipal garden to a major attraction. During her tenure she has expanded the Gardens footprint through the purchase of surrounding homes, led the campaign to build a new visitor center, and brought national attention to the Gardens through innovative immersive exhibitions such as Alien Invasion, Frida Kahlo, and the 2019 D.C. Barrio Garden installation at the US Botanic Garden.
With a mission of Connecting People with Plants and Nature through Art, Science, History and Culture, the Tucson Botanical Gardens is a 7 ½ acre urban public garden located on the historic Porter Property. The Gardens is comprised of 17 display gardens, an indoor tropical butterfly and orchid pavilion, 3 galleries, an education facility, three historic adobe homes along with a year-round café.
Michelle has presented at several APGA conferences. She has served on APGA’S Program Selection Committee, Chaired the Development and Membership Community, and is the current Chair of the Executive Garden Leader Community.