NYBG CEO & William C. Steere Sr. President
Founded in 1891, and now a National Historic Landmark, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world and the largest in the United States. NYBG’s three-fold mission to lead globally in science, education, and horticulture and the myriad ways that can be experienced and championed in the plant kingdom continues to distinguish it among peers. Today the Garden is an urban oasis defined by living collections comprising more than one million plants, spectacular display gardens; cited science, conservation, education, and public programs; community partnerships that serve beyond its borders; and award-winning architecture across its 250-acre campus, made all the more vital by its role as a rare open retreat during COVID isolation in 2020.
Pre-pandemic, NYBG welcomed more than one million visitors per year, managed an annual operating budget of approximately $85 million, and delivered a balanced budget for 31 consecutive years. To help mitigate the negative financial impacts of COVID-19, the Garden launched a $12 million Recovery & Restoration Fund, which helped to balance the institution’s budget in its 32nd fiscal year. Since the onset of the government-mandated shutdown in March, the Garden has kept from among its more than 650 staff all 500 full-time and year-round staff intact, while furloughing seasonal staff handling visitor activities. Since reopening in July, seasonal staff have begun to return and NYBG remains in a strong financial position.
For comprehensive information on NYBG, please visit www.nybg.org.
NYBG seeks a leader of unusual vision, intellectual breadth, managerial experience, and cultural sensibility to enhance the relevance, impact, and appeal of the New York Botanical Garden.
Reporting directly to and working closely with the 71-member Board of Directors, the Chief Executive Officer & William C. Steere Sr. President is responsible for the strategic, programmatic, financial, and operational leadership of the organization. This is a multifaceted role calling for a tested and confident executive to chart a compelling vision for the future; lead an expert, dedicated team accustomed to operating at the highest levels, and who has the ingenuity and charisma to attract strong voices and mobilize support for NYBG’s mission in future staff and new patrons. The CEO must be an enthusiastic champion of, and generate support for, all three of the Garden’s programmatic focus areas in horticulture, education, and science.
The CEO will lead fundraising. They must be a gifted partnership builder with a strategic approach to revenue generation and a talent for cultivating and maintaining relationships with existing donors while generating support from new constituencies and demographic segments. They will possess the presence and sophistication to appeal to New York City donors in particular, as well as their peers beyond.
Accordingly, the CEO must have a deep appreciation for NYBG’s role as a signature destination and be able to think creatively about how to enrich the visitor experience and draw. Fostering and maintaining a strong relationship with elected and civic leaders is key to success and to ensuring the Garden continues to be an integral, visible part of the city’s cultural and social identity.
PRIORITIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Above all, the CEO will be a tested, disciplined, and decisive administrator able to establish and execute clear priorities, mobilize new resources, and expend them wisely. They will be an inclusive, generous leader who inspires the team and fosters a culture of collaboration and accountability among all.
Key priorities include:
- Forging a productive relationship with the Board of Trustees, staff, and key supporters; working with Board leadership to engage existing trustees and to recruit new and “next-generation” ones; creating opportunities for them to share their passions and expertise in support of strategic goals;
- Working with the Board and the development team to create, implement, and lead a strategic and tactical plan for expanding and diversifying contributed revenue from all potential sources;
- Crafting a bold vision and a strategy aligned with NYBG’s mission and ambition that responds to an unprecedented moment to ensure the Garden’s ongoing relevance and financial health;
- Purposefully broadening NYBG’s audiences through scientific excellence, educational initiatives, and topical, relevant programming for which the Garden is uniquely well positioned; doubling down on NYBG’s priority to be an inclusive and welcoming destination;
- Inspiring, motivating, and leading staff efforts to realize the organization’s ambitions; ensuring clear communication and accountability within the organization, across departments, and to the Board.
- In collaboration with the staff and Board, effectively developing and promoting a holistic and balanced strategy to assure growth, excellence, and impact in all of the Garden’s programmatic areas – horticulture, education, and science.
IDEAL EXPERIENCE AND CHARACTERISTICS
The next Chief Executive Officer & William C. Steere Sr. President will possess the stature and credibility to lead an iconic New York institution and one of the foremost botanical gardens in the world. A track record of success as the CEO or executive leading a major division of a complex, multi-stakeholder organization is a must, while previous experience in one of the programmatic disciplines of the Garden is ideal.
Proven Fundraising Ability. A strong track record of bold and effective fundraising, and proven ability to operate in the unique New York City philanthropic world, or in another major market. An understanding of the full range of funding tools, including earned income from exhibitions and programming, foundation support, special events, and patrons’ programs.
Strong Leadership Experience. Demonstrated success in running all or part of a large cultural, educational, or scientific non-profit. Can build, motivate, retain, and lead an enthusiastic team of people, who collaborate to achieve results. Inspires people to perform at a high level. Creates an exciting environment that draws star performers. Ability to achieve consensus amongst competing needs. A firm decision maker, who engages with diplomacy and tact.
Visionary Skill. Demonstrated success in formulating and implementing a visionary, inspirational, entrepreneurial strategy for an institution that draws admiration for its innovative and forward-looking programming. Strong understanding of the institution, as a base for building a strategy for where it can be taken.
Board-Building Success. A keen understanding of how to build a board, generating excitement about mission and deep philanthropic commitment, utilizing personal charisma.
Outstanding Communication Skills. A compelling public presence. Articulate and inspiring speaker, marrying clarity of expression with knowledge of the facts. Personal experience in a range of communication skills, including digital media, social media, and public relations.
Personal Qualities. Integrity, decisiveness, empathy, emotional intelligence, cultural agility, a quick study and learner. Personal experience in at least one of the pillars of the Garden (horticulture, science, education) providing a base to engage with all.
Please send applications or nominations to Sarah James and Becky Klein at NYBG@PhillipsOppenheim.com.
The New York Botanical Garden is committed to an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible work environment, and further recognizes that diversity in our workforce fosters excellence in our mission of advocating for the plants of the world.