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Former Executive Director of U.S. Botanic Garden Dr. Ari Novy Named as New President & CEO of San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas

San Diego Botanic Garden is pleased to announce that Dr. Ari Novy, currently Chief Scientist at Leichtag Foundation and former Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, has been selected by SDBG’s Board of Directors as the new President & CEO. 

Current President & CEO Julian Duval has been at the helm of SDBG for the past 24 years. He will be retiring January 23, 2019. During his tenure, Duval has taken the Garden from a San Diego County-owned property, to a recognized local tourist attraction, to being named one of the ‘Top 10 Gardens Worth Travelling For’ by the American Public Garden Association – just last year!

“We are excited to have the opportunity to have a nationally recognized scientist as our new President and CEO. We look forward to Ari taking the gardens to the next level from the great base that Julian has created.” said John DeWald, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for San Diego Botanic Garden.

Dr. Novy was selected from 42 candidates from around the nation after a year-long search by SDBG’s Board of Directors, according to DeWald. As the former Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden, one of the oldest, most prominent and most visited gardens in North America, Dr. Novy has considerable experience running botanical institutions. The U.S. Botanic Garden had an annual budget of $14M and approximately 70 employees during Novy’s tenure. While at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Dr. Novy oversaw renovation of the Garden’s historic Bartholdi Park, produced original botanically themed theater, and welcomed over 1.2 million visitors per year. He also reestablished botanical collection expeditions for the first time since the 1850s. 

Dr. Novy is a plant biologist with degrees from New York University and Rutgers University. He remains an active researcher, holding research appointments at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC and University of California-San Diego. He currently serves on the boards of the Cornell Alliance for Science, Botanic Garden Conservation International-US, and Live It Learn It (a Washington, DC based experiential learning non-profit focusing on Title 1 school children). Dr. Novy has served on many advisory panels during his career including the White House Council of Environmental Quality, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization and the Scientific Advisory Panel of Botanic Garden Conservation International. He is currently an Environmental Commissioner of the City of Encinitas. 

“I am deeply honored to be chosen as the next President & CEO of San Diego Botanic Garden,” said Novy. “From the first time I set foot in the Garden as a visitor many years ago, I have been a tremendous fan. I am excited to continue the exciting trajectory that Julian Duval has established. Working with staff, volunteers and community stakeholders, I look forward to advancing the Garden’s critical work of inspiring people to connect with plants and nature.” 

Upon completion of contract negotiations, the transition from Duval to Novy will take place over the next several months. Both Duval and Novy will work closely with the SDBG’s Board of Directors on planning the long-term vision and direction that the Garden will take in the next 15-20 years.

Duval will be honored with the Paul Ecke, Jr. Award at SDBG’s annual Gala in the Garden on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 5 – 11 pm. He will be recognized for his 24-years of service to the Garden as well as his numerous contributions to the local horticultural community. 

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have served as the President/CEO of the Garden. It has been the best job to cap my career that I could imagine,” said Duval. “Like for all our wonderful employees and volunteers, SDBG means a great deal to me and I am so pleased that Dr. Novy has been selected to take on this role. I know Ari both personally and professionally and our board could not have found a better leader for the Garden.”