Overview: The Chicago Botanic Garden seeks an Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. This opportunity, arising upon the retirement of our long-serving and highly regarded CFO, comes as the Garden anticipates its 50th anniversary; continues to grow in audience, membership, and programs; and implements a new strategic plan grounded in the ambition to share the Garden and its work with more and more people. Reporting to the Garden’s President and CEO, the successful candidate will build on success and advance excellence in financial planning and practice as we seek to strengthen our position as a leading cultural institution in Chicago and beyond. The EVP/CFO is a key member of the Garden’s Executive Leadership Team, directly supporting the President and CEO on all financial, business, and strategic decision-making, and working closely with board committees to ensure financial integrity, oversight, and best practices. The EVP/CFO provides leadership and direction on all financial activity while collaborating with colleagues to ensure best-practice fiscal management in support of program goals. He/She provides leadership related to financial planning and controls, administrative support, sound fiscal management, risk management, and efficient business support services.
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 citizen science.
At a mere 47 years young, the Garden is one of only 17 public gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums. Its 27 display gardens and four natural areas cover 385 acres and are uniquely sited on nine islands. The permanent plant collections contain 2.7 million plants representing more than 13,000 taxa. 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 nearly $40 million and is in the final stages of a $130 million capital and endowment campaign.
Our organization is growing. Since 2005, our operating budgets and our attendance have grown by more than 50 percent.
It has received a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for five years. The Garden has 51,000 members—one of the largest memberships of any U.S. botanic garden. Its Lenhardt Library contains 150,000 volumes, including one of the nation’s best collections of rare horticultural and botanical books.
You are a strategic thought partner to the President and CEO, a financial expert capable of thinking strategically and operating tactically in service of a dynamic mission-driven organization. You understand the challenges of the nonprofit sector and are ready to work strategically and creatively in this environment, leading teams to deliver “the right answer” as we seek to fulfill our strategic objectives.
You bring next-generation financial leadership to the Garden and are eager to collaborate with colleagues on the Executive Leadership Team and on the Board as we continue to modernize our growing organization and deliver best-in-class financial operations and oversight, and business development. You understand the long-range financial issues of the organization and are comfortable delving into the tactical details of the day-to-day operation. Your experience covers budgeting, strategic forecasting and planning, and in overseeing financial, accounting, compliance, and risk management of a complex organization. You recognize our need to grow and diversify revenue and support colleagues across the Garden in a constructive, supportive manner. You have strong quantitative and analytical skills, and adeptly present financial information to any audience, whether it is the leadership team, the Board of Directors, or staff at all levels.
You are a comfortable and confident team player, eager to partner with the President and CEO and the entire Executive Leadership Team to move us forward to our 50th year and beyond. Your financial acumen and communication skills are compelling, establishing trust with both new and long-serving members of the Garden community. You are a mentor and a guide, eager to work alongside your team, jumping in as necessary to meet deadlines and fulfill commitments. You work well with individuals and teams across all levels of the organization.
You recognize the importance of precedent alongside the need to innovate and you can respond rapidly to changes that affect our business. You have led change with vision, understanding, and generosity. Your written and verbal skills are outstanding, and you adeptly translate complex financial data for any audience. You are comfortable developing relationships with organizational leaders and Board members. You can be trusted with highly confidential and sensitive information and, in all matters, operate with the greatest integrity. You aim to deliver best-in-class practices for yourself, your team, and for the Garden as a whole.
•Lead and support operational innovation, ensuring best-in-class processes in budgeting and financial planning and analysis, and risk management; develop metrics and analytics capacity that leads to cost management, program improvement.
•Work to ensure long-term fiscal health and viability of the Garden, and optimize organizational performance.
•Support proactive, creative, and effective business development efforts across the organization to support increased targets in both earned and raised revenue and control costs.
•Ensure quality of Garden’s financial function and performance, including responsibility for budgeting, accounting, cash management, investment management, accounts payable, etc.
•Provide strategic guidance around management and structure of fundraising campaigns.
Planning and Analysis
•Provide analytical support and business savvy to develop and support our revenue growth strategy.
•Serve as trusted advisor and sounding board to the
CEO and the Executive Leadership Team, and lead a
robust financial planning and analysis function for the
•Lead long-term modeling, forecasting, risk
management assessments, and planning to ensure
financial stability. Regularly update five-year financial
•Frame and interpret big-picture issues and lead teams
to support multi-year planning, budgeting, and goal
setting to ensure alignment between annual operating
plans, capital plans, and five-year strategic plan.
•Confer with President and CEO and Executive Leadership Team on annual budget priorities and direct preparation of annual budget process, strategically assisting departments in preparing annual and three-year budget plans; lead annual budget presentation to the Board; monitor and reforecast both operating and capital budgets, recommending modifications as required.
•Facilitate timely analysis of financial data, prepare quarterly Board presentations and finance committee presentations, and monitor progress against goals.
•Provide timely and accurate analysis of annual budgets, monthly and quarterly financial trends in order to assist the CEO, the Board, and the Executive Leadership Team in performing their responsibilities.
•Manage relationships with financial institutions, outsourced investment advisors, auditors, and insurance providers. Represent Garden to and monitor its relationships with banks, rating agencies, etc., making changes as necessary to improve liquidity and access to credit at best possible process.
•Provide financial leadership in contract negotiations.
•Build strong, ongoing relationships with bankers, auditors, and out-sourced investment, legal, and information services suppliers.
•Anticipate issues arising in financial management, enterprise risk controls, and data management and integrity.
•Be active in the sector, demonstrating active involvement in financial issues affecting nonprofit organizations.
Transaction Process and Reporting
•Guarantee implementation of first-class finance and accounting operations and procedures that provide accountability, control, and protection of digital and physical assets.
•Ensure that all internal and external reports are accurate, reliable, and accessible to a variety of users, including Board members, donors, financial institutions, and others.
•Provide accounting and financial reporting to support management decision-making.
•Direct preparation of financial reports, including
income statements, balance sheets, tax returns, and
reports for government regulatory agencies; ensure
independent auditors have all information necessary to
prepare financial statements, tax returns, internal
controls, and all documents necessary to support the
annual internal audit process.
•Ensure sound internal controls and cash management procedures.
•Maximize cash flows and working capital through efficient working capital management, process improvements, and accountability.
•Create and improve efficient, effective processes and policies.
Controls and Risk Management
•Author and update biannually financial protocols and ensure organizational compliance.
•Ensure Garden optimizes technology across the organization and identifies technological solutions that automate and/or improve finance, procurement, accounting functions, information systems, and collections management.
•Monitor organizational enterprise risk management, anticipate risks across functions and sites, and ensure mitigation plans are in place across the organization.
•Ensure compliance with endowment spending policy on restricted, Board-designated, and debt-reserve portions of the endowment.
•Manage cash flow and debt financing, ensure timeliness and accuracy of compliance.
•Direct all banking relationships, including negotiation of letter of credit and debt covenants.
•Maintain and evolve systems and controls to support reporting requirements, addressing immediately any deviations.
•Automate controls and build best-practice processes and systems that create transparency into the Garden’s finances.
Organizational Culture and Financial Team Leader
•Serve as strategic partner to the President and CEO.
•Function as trusted adviser to the President and CEO, and the Board, providing sound and insightful financial analysis.
•Directly support the Finance & Investment, Audit, Personnel & Compensation committees of the Board.
•Serve as role model for the Garden, deepen and build culture of accountability.
•Build, lead, manage, and develop team of up to 18, including controller, treasurer, grants compliance.
•Function as primary liaison with outside legal counsel, serve as initial point person on all legal actions and responses, support and oversee contracts compliance and all insurance/liability needs. Ensure appropriate legal review of all contracts and agreements.
•Support Garden’s relationship with outsourced health-care plan advisors and work closely with the Human Resources Vice President on monitoring cost and effectiveness of Garden’s self-insured health-care plan.
•Oversee Garden retirement plans and deferred compensation plans.
•Oversee procurement and purchasing, and ensure contract compliance with Garden financial protocols.
•Work collaboratively with all levels of the organization and seamlessly integrate into and work successfully within the Garden culture.
•Provide timely and accurate data, communicating both good and bad news quickly.
•Operate with highest levels of integrity and ethical standards.
•Ten-plus years of experience leading complex finance department, either in nonprofit, government, or private sector.
•Proven experience in budgeting, strategic forecasting and planning, and in overseeing financial, accounting, compliance, and risk management of a complex organization.
•Highly skilled communicator who presents financial information in clear, confident manner to a range of audiences with varying levels of expertise. Transition seamlessly between the big picture and finer details.
•BA required; advanced degree highly desirable.