Botanical Garden Director
Employment TypeJob (Full-time)
Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer initially, the Botanical Garden Director is responsible for providing visionary leadership, strategic direction, and operational oversight for New Orleans City Park’s historic Botanical Garden. This role encompasses the management of all aspects of the Botanical Garden, including ensuring the highest level of plant displays and visitor experience, education outreach, programming, and data collection, to ensure its continued excellence, growth, and to expand our contribution to botanical research and conservation. Note: The position currently oversees the Tolmas Center and Gift Shop, which functions as the Park’s visitor center. This reporting structure is subject to change.
The Botanical Garden Director will play a pivotal role in shaping the Garden’s future, ensuring its continued success as it moves from a notable regional garden to a global leader in botanical research, education, and conservation. This position requires a dynamic and visionary leader who is dedicated to advancing the mission of the botanical garden and enhancing its impact on the community and the world.
Over 170 years old, one mile wide and three miles long comprising a total of 1,300 acres, New Orleans City Park is one of the largest urban Parks in the country. It is located in the heart of the city and is the largest recreational area for the entire region. City Park is home to the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world, with some trees over 800 years old.
Once the site of Allard Plantation facing Bayou St. John, City Park offers visitors a sample of the city’s riches both in fine art and natural splendor. The first 100 acres was willed to the City of New Orleans by John McDonough in 1854. In 1891 the City of New Orleans authorized a group of private citizens to manage the Park, the City Park Improvement Association, who still oversees the Park today, in partnership with the City Park Conservancy.
The story of City Park was shaped by two major events: the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Roosevelt Administration invested $12 million in developing the Park as part of the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.), which employed 20,000 men and women to build roadways, fountains and even Tad Gormley Stadium. Much of the art found throughout the Park originated in the W.P.A. era.
The failure of the federal levee system following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left 95 percent of City Park sitting in floodwaters for weeks, inflicting $43 million in damages to the park alone. The public responded with an overwhelming outpouring of support that has funded considerable progress in not only repairing, but also improving City Park.
Though City Park has changed and developed over time, we work to maintain the value and health of the Park’s natural green space and wildlife habitat. Since Hurricane Katrina, City Park has completed several notable projects that promote native species and provide opportunities for the community to engage with the natural environment.
Today’s City Park is distinguished by its large menu of recreational activities as well as by its natural beauty. City Park has a special place in the hearts of generations of New Orleanians and is a must for visitors to the city. A popular place to picnic, play a favorite sport, wander through its gardens or take a boat ride, the Park is visited millions of times each year.
Duties & Responsibilities
• Develop and execute a long-term strategic vision for the Botanical Garden.
• Play a lead role in the Garden’s participation in the parkwide master planning process and in subsequent execution of forthcoming projects.
• Set clear goals and objectives in alignment with the Garden’s mission and values.
• Foster innovation and sustainability in all aspects of Garden operations.
• Work closely with Development and Marketing staff to secure and leverage funding opportunities and to develop communications for the public.
• Oversee the maintenance and development of Garden facilities, including botanical collections, greenhouses, outdoor kitchen, Garden Study Center, and visitor amenities.
• Ensure that the Garden remains aesthetically pleasing and accessible to all.
• Oversee day-to-day operations, including horticultural practices, maintenance, and visitor services.
• Manage budgets, financial planning, earned income opportunities, and contribute to fundraising efforts to ensure fiscal health.
• Implement, promote and refine policies, procedures, and safety protocols in conjunction with executive leadership.
• Recruit, train, and manage a team of professionals, including horticulturists, educators, researchers, and administrative staff.
• Foster a collaborative and inclusive work environment.
• Conduct performance evaluations and provide professional development opportunities.
• Curate and coordinate a diverse range of botanical and cultural programs and events that align with the Garden’s mission and attracts a broad audience.
• Oversee execution of current programming including Wednesdays with Enrique, Thursdays at Twilight, plant sales and Master Naturalists.
• Foster artistic and cultural collaborations that enhance the Garden’s appeal and increase visitorship.
• Protect and curate historical components of the Garden, such as the WPA-era rose garden and associated buildings and greenhouses.
• Develop educational programs for diverse audiences, including schools, seniors, community groups, and the public.
• Oversee the Garden’s participation in Celebration in the Oaks, a multi-week holiday event that takes place throughout the Park.
Botanical Research and Conservation:
• Oversee and participate in botanical research activities, including plant collections, taxonomy, and conservation efforts.
• Collaborate with research institutions, universities, and conservation organizations.
• Develop and maintain comprehensive data collection and records related to plant collections and research projects.
• Build strong relationships with the local community, stakeholders, and partners.
• Represent the garden at public events, conferences, and with the media.
• Advocate for the Garden’s importance in biodiversity conservation and environmental stewardship.
• Work collaboratively to establish a vibrant volunteer program.
• Ensure ongoing engagement with the Botanical Garden Advisory Committee and other organized volunteer groups and garden clubs.
Other Responsibilities (5%):
• Other duties may be assigned by the Chief Operating Officer or Chief Executive Officer
• Other venues and positions may be assigned to this position as required.
Education and Experience
• Bachelor’s degree in botany, horticulture, environmental science, or a related field.
• Minimum of 10 years of experience in botanical gardens or public gardens, with at least 5 years in a senior leadership role.
• Proven track record of fundraising for botanical garden projects.
• Strong understanding of botanical research, conservation, and education.
• Exceptional leadership and management skills.
• Excellent communication and interpersonal abilities.
• Knowledge of best practices in botanical garden operations and sustainability.
• Passion for environmental conservation and biodiversity.
• Ability to work evenings, nights, and weekends.
• Valid driver’s license that is maintained throughout employment.
• Strong computer literacy and software utilization
• Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing.
• Ability to view challenges and problems as opportunities for growth and transformation.
• Ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems using a high degree of independent judgement and personal initiative.
• Master’s Degree
The physical demands described here are those that should be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
While performing the duties of this job, the employee may be required to stand, walk, sit, talk or hear (with or without assistance of aids). The physical requirements for this job fall between sedentary and light work, including exerting up to 20 pounds of force to move objects from time to time. Visual acuity (with or without assistance of glasses or visual impairment aids) is needed. Working weekends, some evenings, and holidays is mandatory. Must be willing to work a flexible schedule. Certain physical conditions may be present at City Park from time to time, including extreme temperatures, wet or humid conditions, and inclement weather. Certain atmospheric conditions may exist which are not uncommon to botanical gardens including fumes, odors, and dust. Hazards may include mechanical and electrical equipment and chemicals, not uncommon to botanical gardens.
The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently exposed to outside weather conditions. The employee is occasionally exposed to wet and/or humid conditions, moving mechanical parts; high, precarious places; fumes or airborne particles; toxic or caustic chemicals; extreme cold; extreme heat; risk of electrical shock; explosives and vibration. The noise level in the work environment is occasionally loud.
COMPETITIVE BENEFITS PACKAGE!
• Medical insurance with MERP card
• Dental and vision insurance (FSA available)
• Paid Time Off program
• Company paid life insurance and short term disability
• Retirement plan, company contributes up to 6%
• 15 paid holidays, 2 floating holidays
• Admission to selected park events
• Discount on admission and food
• Free tennis and pickle ball court rental
• Beautiful environment
December 2, 2023