Tower Hill Botanic Garden is pleased to announce that Grace Elton will become CEO of the Boylston-based nonprofit this spring.   

Elton has been the director of horticulture at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va., since 2011, where she has established herself as a forward-thinking leader of one of the nation’s premier gardens.   

“I am enthusiastic that our extensive, national search has yielded such an outstanding leader,” said James Karadimos, president of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, which oversees Tower Hill. “Grace brings to Tower Hill the talent and knowledge required to lead this 175 year old society and its 30 year old garden. She is well positioned to strengthen Tower Hill’s reach and reputation, while staying true to our mission.” 

Among Elton’s achievements at Lewis Ginter are a new apiary with demonstration beehives, partnerships to grow hops for a local brewery and expansion of a vegetable garden which contributes produce for an area food bank, and the planting of Lewis Ginter’s first native plant garden.   

A Florida native, Elton was first turned on to the importance of plants as a child living in Everglades National Park, where her parents worked. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in public garden management from the University of Florida and a Masters in Public Horticulture from the Longwood Graduate Program of the University of Delaware. After experiences interning at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, Elton returned to the UK to work with five separate gardens as a recipient of the Garden Club of America’s prestigious Martin McLaren Horticulture Scholarship.   

Prior to joining Lewis Ginter, Elton served as adjunct professor and arboretum supervisor at the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University. In 2013, she was recognized on the “Richmond Top 40 Under 40” list by Style Weekly Magazine. Currently, she serves on the Board of the American Public Gardens Association, the leading association for professionals in public horticulture.    

“I’m honored by the opportunity to lead such a successful garden,” Elton said, “and to further Tower Hill’s goals to connect even more people to nature and plants. I can’t wait to begin working with the staff, members, and volunteers to expand Tower Hill’s reach and to build on the Society’s rich history of inspiring people to become involved in the practice of horticulture.”  

Elton will succeed interim CEO Suzanne Maas. Maas has led Tower Hill since the departure of Kathy Abbott, who in May 2016 returned to her roots in Boston to work on waterfront and harbor issues.  

Elton will join Tower Hill during a period of tremendous growth for the organization, which welcomed 137,000 visitors and celebrated its 30th year at its Boylston location in 2016. This year is the 175th anniversary of Tower Hill’s parent organization, the Worcester County Horticultural Society. Tower Hill is also offering more programs and welcoming more members than ever before. Elton will take the reins as the organization moves closer to implementing the first phases of its new Master Plan, which calls for more gardens and programs for visitors to enjoy.  

Tower Hill Botanic Garden is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting plants and people. Its mission is to inspire the use and appreciation of horticulture to improve lives, enrich communities and strengthen commitment to the natural world. The Tower Hill property includes 15 gardens, an historic apple orchard, a restaurant, gift shop, conservatories, library, and art galleries, as well as year-round programs for all ages.