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Chicago Botanic Garden-Controller-Wed, 03/15/2023 - 1:49pm



Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe , IL 60022
United States
Illinois US

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Job Description 

Title: Controller

Exemption Status: Exempt

Department: Finance

Reports to: Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration/CFO

Year-round, full-time

Supervises: Associate director, Financial Accounting; associate director, Grant Accounting; financial accountant; senior payroll manager

The Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the world's great botanic gardens and living museums, known for its stunning collection of landscapes and horticultural displays as well as for its plant conservation science and education programs. Our mission—We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life—inspires more than one million people a year who visit and tens of thousands more whom we reach through our outreach programs in urban agriculture, horticulture therapy, and conservation science.

At a mere 50 years young, the Garden is one of only 17 public gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums. Its 28 display gardens and four natural areas cover 385 acres and are uniquely sited on nine islands. The permanent plant collections contain more than 3 million plants representing more than 14,000 taxa. The Garden has 61,000 members—one of the largest memberships of any U.S. botanic garden. Its Lenhardt Library contains 150,000 items, including one of the nation’s best collections of rare horticultural and botanical books.

The Garden is one of two cultural institutions within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. It is an independent 501(c)(3) organization with an annual operating budget of more than $55 million.

For more information on the Chicago Botanic Garden, please visit


Reporting to, and working with, the executive vice president of Finance and Administration/CFO, the controller will lead the Garden’s accounting, reporting, and business and financial planning processes, including the annual audit process, grant management and compliance, internal controls, policies and procedures, the development of department operating plans and budgets, and payroll. The controller will work with their colleagues to improve business planning, financial analytics, cash-flow planning, risk management, systems management, procurement, and operational effectiveness. They will oversee a small but effective team and will own the financial operations dashboard, manage financial performance versus budget, and business modeling and analytics.

The controller will partner with the senior director of Finance to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of the Garden’s treasury, accounts payable, and accounts receivable operations and ensure they are operating seamlessly across the organization while considering the adequacy and efficiency of policies, procedures, and internal controls. In addition, the controller will partner with the CFO, senior leadership, and the human resources and information systems departments to enhance and integrate the finance, HR, and IS functions.

The person in this position will act as a back-up to the CFO, and will work with a successful leadership team to move the Garden forward.

Duties & Responsibilities 

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Finance Leadership

Lead the accounting function. Consistently analyze financial data and present financial reports in an accurate and timely manner; clearly communicate monthly and annual internal financial statements; monitor progress and changes and keep senior leadership informed of the Garden’s financial status. Direct the annual audit of financial statements in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles with the Garden’s independent outside auditors.
Directly oversee the grant accounting function for government grants and restricted contributions and contracts, including preparation and/or review of budgets, indirect cost rate submissions, and compliance with financial and regulatory requirements, particularly those related to federal government grants. Provide guidance and training to other departments to ensure compliance.
Develop and prepare the overall operating budget and forecasts, including the annual budget submission to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, which reflect the allocation of available resources to accomplish program goals.
Manage the functional expense allocations utilizing cost centers to define program expenses and supporting expenses.
Collaborate with the senior director of Finance on endowment fund reporting and projections, on cash-flow models including those supporting fundraising goals and initiatives, on required federal and state tax returns, and in retirement plan oversight.
Manage the recording and reporting of unusual and significant transactions.
In partnership with the CFO, oversee procurement activities, including negotiations of vendor contracts and partnerships, with emphasis on diversifying the supplier base.
Update, draft, and implement policies and procedures.
Interact regularly with the Garden’s management team and outside auditors. Assist in preparing reports to the Board of Directors, including helping staff the Finance and Investment Committee and Audit Committee.
Reconfigure and maintain the accounting structure to meet accounting and business needs.
Ensure sound internal controls and documentation for payroll accuracy and timeliness, improving processes as needed.
Assist the CFO in all aspects of financial reporting and training; take on special projects as assigned.
Work with Human Resources on the financial analytics of the self-insured employee health plan.

Team Leadership

Lead a team of financial professionals, regularly reviewing the finance department to ensure practices and skills are up-to-date and support the changing needs of the Garden.
Support improvement projects across the organization that increase overall understanding of finance, budgets, and strategic alignment with annual priorities and long-term strategic objectives.
Be a “hands-on” leader who is able to juggle multiple priorities and meet strict deadlines.
Must demonstrate a high degree of flexibility, responsibility, involvement, and cooperation.
Strong team orientation, with a commitment to building, mentoring, and retaining a diverse team, including the ability and foresight to delegate effectively and to lead and implement change.
Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal; experience in effectively communicating key data, including presentations to senior management, the Board of Directors, or other outside partners.
Ability to build alliances, work effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style, and lead multiple teams and functions in collaborative manner.
Anticipate organizational needs; actively work to solve problems and identify organizational risks.

Chicago Botanic Garden Values & Behaviors:
As an organization, we…

Prioritize a culture of GROWTH.
We commit to remaining curious in how we approach our work.

Create and maintain spaces for learning.
Test new ideas and are willing to take risks to achieve our vision.
Collaborate to strengthen our skills and impact.
Demonstrate perseverance and humility as we work toward our long-term impact.

We seek to understand others from their perspective.

Provide opportunities for input and feedback from others.
Actively listen to all points of view.
Consider individuals’ lived experiences.
Advocate for and protect time for reflection especially during times of conflict or confusion.

See one another through a lens of RESILIENCE.
We believe that all individuals can experience good outcomes with support.

Give others the space to balance work and personal needs.
Support others and demonstrate empathy especially during challenging and stressful times.
Seek opportunities to learn from and about one another.
Ask questions about and anticipate the needs of others.

We hold ourselves and others accountable by centering decision making that honors all people.

Communicate information in a timely manner.
Provide clarity in complex situations with the goal of common understanding.
Discuss both positive and negative outcomes openly.
Evaluate the impacts of our actions.

Education and Experience 

Our ideal candidate will have the following:

At least ten years of progressive accounting and finance experience, ideally beginning in accounting and/or audit, followed by experience in collecting, evaluating, presenting, and reporting financial information to executive teams and external stakeholders. Experience in a complex nonprofit organization that has multiple programs and a variety of revenue streams is very strongly preferred, including federal, state, and local grants and foundations.

Other qualifications include:

Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business administration; C.P.A. and/or M.B.A. preferred.
Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and a commitment to the Garden’s mission; a proactive thinker who will own, in partnership with the CFO, the responsibility for the finance function.
Excellent analytic, organizational, and problem-solving skills that allow for strategic data interpretation versus simple reporting.
Ability and desire to translate complex financial concepts to individuals at all levels, including finance and non-finance managers.
Solid experience coordinating budget development and analysis, payroll, government grant compliance, and bank reconciliations.
A strong track record in grants management, including compliance and reporting of government, corporate, and foundation grants, a working knowledge of OMB Uniform Guidance for federal government grants, federal funding award administration, indirect cost recovery procedures, and restricted contribution guidelines and regulations.
Proficiency in revenue recognition under ASC 606 for exchange transactions and ASU 2018-08 for conditional and unconditional grants and contributions.
Knowledge of not-for-profit tax reporting requirements, including endowment.
Knowledge of wage and hour laws and experience with payroll and payroll processing systems such as ADP preferred.
Technology experience in selecting and overseeing software installation and managing relationships with software vendors.
Advanced knowledge of accounting and reporting software systems; experience with Blackbaud a plus.
Must be highly proficient in Microsoft Excel and other Microsoft products.

Physical Demands:

Frequent sitting, standing, walking, bending, listening, speaking, and keyboarding. Use of office equipment including computers, telephones, copiers, scanners, and fax machines. Some requirements for lifting, pushing, or pulling items less than 30 pounds. Exposure to outside varied weather conditions.

*The Chicago Botanic Garden requires all existing employees to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated by October 15, 2021; hires after this date must be fully vaccinated upon hire or may request a medical/religious exemption after an offer is extended.*

Application Instructions 

Click here to APPLY:

Why Apply?
Come work in a setting that is like no other as you support our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. Take the first step toward being one of the employees who make the Garden one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Apply today. Please note that applicants who do not meet the required qualifications will not be considered.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, or basis of disability, or any other federal, state, or local protected class.

Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and qualifications required of personnel so classified.

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Chicago Botanic Garden does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its programs or activities, including in employment or admissions. Please call (847) 835-8264 to contact our Title IX Coordinator should you have questions or concerns. Please do not call this number to inquire about job postings or the status of your application, or with solicitations from companies or third-party recruiters.

Full Name 
Mj Kim