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Royal Botanical Gardens-Chief Executive Officer, Royal Botanical Gardens-Wed, 07/15/2020 - 11:48am

Chief Executive Officer, Royal Botanical Gardens


Royal Botanical Gardens
680 Plains Rd. W
Burlington , ON L7T 4H4
Ontario CA

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Job Description 


Located at the head of Lake Ontario and within the municipalities of Burlington and Hamilton, Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada and one of the nation’s first conservation lands. Comprising some 2,700 acres of protected wetlands, botanical collections, parkland and display gardens, and within easy access of millions of nature-starved urban citizens, RBG dedicates its expertise in horticulture, conservation, science and education to connect people, plants and place for the purpose of nurturing and preserving healthy growing life on our planet. RBG directs its efforts, and seeks the support of individuals and organizations, to realize its dream of a world in which everyone is awake to the beauty, diversity and necessity of plants, and from that consciousness more actively works together to protect and preserve plant species and habitats and, by extension, our planet.

• RBG is a Transfer Payment Recipient within the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
• We are a not for profit, registered charity governed by a Provincial Act of the Provincial legislative of Ontario in 1941.
• The Province of Ontario is our major core funder. RBG generates 65% of revenues within an $18M annual operating budget, employs 95 full-time and up to 199 part-time & seasonal staff, and is supported by the work of over 1,000 volunteers.
• Not only are we known for our gardens, collections and programs, we are environmental leaders when it comes to conservation efforts.
• RBG acts as a conduit to educate our visitors on how we can adapt to climate change challenges and events.
• RBG owns and manages 2,700 acres of natural lands, botanical collections, parkland and display gardens. Included in this is Cootes Paradise, a protected wetland and part of the Great Lakes System of North America.


The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is accountable to the Board of Directors for the organization and financial performance of RBG in fulfilling its mission, vision and strategic direction. The CEO will work closely with the Board of Directors, Senior Leadership Team and Volunteers to define and implement plans for the organizations success by providing financial and operational leadership, and cultivate relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders.

Duties & Responsibilities 


• Plan, develop, implement and direct the organization’s operational and fiscal function and performance.
• Assure that RBG has annual operating plans and a long-range strategy which achieve its mission and toward which the organization makes consistent and timely progress.
• Lead and direct the continuous refinement of a cohesive, shared vision for RBG with the Board, as well as development, periodic review (every three years) and implementation of the Strategic Plan and achievement of its strategic goals.
• Ensure that RBG engages in all communication strategies available to it to effectively communicate with its key stakeholders and the general public.
• Shape RBG’s long term aspirations.
• Build, lead, mentor and retain a high-performing senior management team that can take the organization through its next stage of growth.
• Create, implement and enforce policies and procedures of the organization that will improve operational and financial effectiveness of RBG.
• Ensure constant compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements.
• Lead and direct the management and implementation of RBG’s Master Plan.
• Executive oversight of all processes and procedures.
• Interact with members of staff and volunteers at all levels to foster growth.
• Serve as principal external representative of RBG.
• Develop successful alliances and joint ventures.
• Be visible at key events and activities in order to monitor the trends and developments of the botanical movement in Canada and internationally.


• Support the strategic direction, vision, mission and strategy for RBG.
• Ensure open communication and credible relationships with all members of the Board to ensure that Directors are well informed about the organization performance.
• Support the activity and performance of the Board as directed by the Chair of the Board of Directors and the Chair of the Governance Committee.
• Proactively recommend potential Board members for RBG.
• Assist with the effective orientation and education of Board members to build their knowledge, commitment and skills.
• Coordinate the work and serve as an ex-officio member of all committees of the Board.


• Represent RBG internally and externally working actively to elevate its profile, promote and publicize its programming, and expand appreciation for its vision & mission.
• Working with the Board and the Director of Development and Community Engagement, provide the strategic direction for fundraising activity; proactively participate in and support the development process including directly soliciting individuals, corporations, foundations and government funding sources.
• Ensure a strategic and comprehensive annual and multi-year fund development plan that identifies prospects and donors and enhances the short- and long-term diversified funding base (individual, corporate, foundation, and public segments) for RBG.
• Ensure comprehensive marketing and partnership strategies to attract and engage donors.
• Build loyal and long-term relationships with key donor segments based on mission, cultivation and stewardship, program outcomes and sound fiscal management.
• Monitor closely, and engage with, the political environment of the jurisdictions that affect the vision and operations of the RBG – local, regional, provincial and national.
• Communicate and build commitment to RBG’s strategic direction among external constituents (Board, stakeholders, key donors, volunteers, customers, etc.)
• Communicate and build commitment to organizational policies, directives, and procedures among external constituents.


The Board (and staff) seek a CEO who can take a proactive leadership posture in working with them on a number of decisions critical to the continuing growth and prosperity, which will shape RBG and its role in the region for years to come.

The projected first year accomplishments for the Chief Executive Officer include:

• Establish presence at RBG and within the community and make an immediate impact in this leadership role by keeping pace with ongoing matters and the daily demands of the position. Increase visibility of RBG as the community’s “best kept secret”. This includes developing effective working relationships with all key stakeholders including Board members, senior leadership team, managers and staff at all levels, volunteers, guests and Burlington/Hamilton cultural, educational, business and community leaders.
• Lead and direct the continuing development, management and implementation of RBG’s Master Plan and master planning process.
• Lead the development and implementation of a five-year Strategic Plan and the implementation of its strategic goals, focusing on clearly defined measurable objectives.
• Bring a fresh set of eyes to RBG’s new organizational structure with the goal to fully realize the vision of this alignment. This includes integrated technology, team spirit and staff morale with elimination of any holdover “we-they” mentality. Develop a collaborative culture among Board, staff and volunteers. Identify and remove barriers to cooperation.
• In addition to executive leadership of the Gardens, continue RBG’s current efforts and create expanded opportunities for “the greening of RBG.”
• Enhance RBG’s presence and reputation in Ontario and nationally through collaborations, alliances and partnerships with other area education, government and related organizations and institutions.
• Lead RBG’s ongoing response to COVID-19 that allow staff, volunteers, guests and key stakeholders with safe access to the grounds.
• Lead the recruitment of a new Chief Operating Officer for RBG that will focus on the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Education and Experience 


The ideal candidate must have a proven track record of success and has served in a key leadership position of a complex organization through periods of positive growth and change for at least 10 years. This individual may come from a variety of backgrounds: service as the top executive of a comparably-sized arboretum, botanical garden, natural history museum or other non-profit organization focused on the natural world; experience as a senior-level executive at a larger like enterprise as noted above; or an executive from a complex private or public sector entity who has had significant involvement with non-profits as a Board member.

The successful candidate must have the demonstrated ability to manage financial affairs of an organization; i.e., develop or enhance fundraising and all revenue sources; experience managing and large budgets and control expenditures so as to preserve financial stability and growth.

A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university is required, for example - Business or Public Administration. An advanced degree such as an MBA or a PhD is a plus, as well as professional working experience in horticulture, botany, or a related field.

• Executive leadership experience: at least 10 years serving in senior and executive leadership roles; has led a comparably complex and preferably multi-site organization.
• Planning: has worked with a Board, management and staff to develop and implement successful strategic and tactical plans.
• Board relationships: significant involvement with Board development and governance issues and Board interactions.
• Resource development: experience with varied successful funding activities including development programs, capital campaigns, publications and advertising, special events, membership and other revenue generation programs.
• Donor/investor relations: effective communications and relationship development with donors, investors and corporate partners; demonstrated ability to cultivate current partners and expand their financial commitment to the organization and its mission.
• Community/regional development: able to effectively manage interactions with local and regional organizations to achieve common goals.
• Media/public relations: ability to effectively articulate history, mission, activities, goals and objectives of RBG to the media and the community at large.
• Marketing orientation: ability to promote the organization in a variety of ways.
• Visitor experience: maintains a strong orientation to legendary visitor relations and conveys this passion and techniques to staff and volunteers at all levels.
• Management: has managed, developed, and motivated effective staff and volunteers; team-oriented with a collaborative management style.
• Community relations: effective interactions with the public, guests and other constituents.
• External relationships: develops effective relationships with key stakeholders, including elected officials, educational institutions, related arboretums and botanic gardens, and external vendors and advisors.
• Technology: computer literate; understands and embraces the impact of information technology changes on non-profit organizations.
• Research: experience with and/or commitment to supporting scientific research efforts regarding the natural world and overall environment; engagement with university partners preferred.


• Leadership: possesses and demonstrates leadership qualities including presence, vision; leading, managing and motivating department leaders, staff and the volunteer organizations.
• Collaborative: demonstrates the ability to work with others to forge effective working relationships with various parties; uses a management style which supports and encourages the efforts of staff and volunteers; takes a team approach in working with others.
• Communication: effective communicator with internal and external audiences; strong written communication and public presentation skills; active listener; demonstrated ability to speak from prepared text and extemporaneously.
• Interpersonal skills: can relate to people of diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds.
• Integrity: credible and possesses the highest ethical and moral standards.
• Visibility: highly visible to staff, volunteers, key stakeholders and the community; active in related professional organizations.
• Disposition: demonstrates a positive, optimistic attitude; able to maintain appropriate work/life balance life; able to maintain an appropriate sense of humor.
• Managing Millennials: has demonstrated a strong ability to attract millennials to the Gardens with continued intensive focus on social media marketing.
• Initiative: demonstrates the ability to get things done and take responsibility.
• Digital Presence: possesses strong knowledge of initiatives to increase digital presence of the Gardens and corresponding events.
• Execution of Strategy: demonstrates ability to be strategic in their own right, but able to take an existing master plan and not only support it, but build upon it, maintain the key attributes of the Master Plan.

Application Instructions 


The Royal Botanical Gardens offers a competitive compensation package based on qualifications and experience. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply and express their interest to:

Samantha Galati, Principal
The Bedford Consulting Group, Inc.
E: | T: 416-963-9000 ext. 260

The Bedford Consulting Group is an equal opportunity employer committed to the principles of non-discrimination in the workplace. It is also our policy to source and present candidates on a non-discriminatory basis. Proactively, we make every good faith effort to include a diverse pool of candidates in our search assignment.

We appreciate all applications, however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Full Name 
Mark Runciman