The Worcester Business Journal has named Tower Hill Botanic Garden CEO Grace Elton to its 2018 40 Under Forty list.

Elton, who lives in Worcester with her husband A.J., previously served as director of horticulture of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. She began her tenure at Tower Hill, a Boylston nonprofit focused on connecting people and plants, in April 2017.

“I am just thrilled for the opportunity to spread the good word about all the exciting things that are happening at Tower Hill and beyond,” Elton said of being honored by the 19th annual 40 Under Forty Awards. “Our staff, members, trustees, and volunteers are working every day to make the world a better place for people and plants.”

The WBJ selection committee noted Elton’s accomplishments in just her first year in the top role at Tower Hill included breaking fundraising, admission, and educational programming records, acquiring 39 additional acres, and serving on the Worcester Cultural Coalition’s board of directors.

“Grace is an innovative leader who is committed to the community, creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds to connect with and enjoy nature,” said selection committee judge Milka Njoroge.

Tower Hill opened its doors to the public in 1986 as the home of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, which, having been established in 1842, makes it one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. Elton is among the youngest heads in the country of a large botanical garden.

“I could not be more proud of Grace for bringing such energy, creativity, and, well, grace, to our incredible garden and look forward with ardent anticipation to what’s to come,” said Jim Karadimos, president of the society’s board of trustees. “Age is just a number, but we are extremely fortunate having a Millennial of Grace’s stature lead our 176-year-old organization into a bright future.”

The Worcester Business Journal received submissions for 131 nominees, who must work in Central Massachusetts, live in Massachusetts and be under 40 years old as of the day of the awards ceremony, which this year is Sept. 12. Three judges, selected for their background and expertise, assessed each submission and the nominees with the highest cumulative judges’ scores were vetted by WBJ staff to verify their eligibility. Those eligible high-scoring nominees were then declared the winners.

Read more about why the WBJ chose Elton here.