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Seeking CEO – Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden


POSITION: Chief Executive Officer

REPORTS TO: Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Board of Directors

LOCATION: Des Moines, Iowa

Exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a vibrant, seven-acre public garden in the heart of downtown Des Moines, providing an enduring guest experience through progressive design, innovative programming and dynamic exhibits. We are:
-Educational: Our commitment to literacy is rooted in the belief that education is a lifelong pursuit.
-Cultural: We believe the fusion of art and horticulture provide a venue for meaningful, memorable experiences.
-Innovative: As explorers, we curate dynamic collections with application to both industry and community.
-Ecological: As ecological stewards we embrace the challenges and opportunities of environmental changes.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden stands as one team devoted to learning and practicing anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility, such that the Garden can be a vital resource and advocate for our diverse community. Public gardens and community green spaces have an essential role in bringing our diverse community together. We believe the Garden is a platform for a hopeful and peaceful future. Together we will dedicate ourselves to the active work of listening, learning and breaking down barriers and inequities.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, seven-acre public garden in the heart of downtown Des Moines, providing an enduring guest experience through progressive design, innovative programming and dynamic exhibits. Since 2013, the Botanical Garden has inspired and engaged visitors through education, experience and exploration. As a renowned cultural institution, the Botanical Garden cultivates diverse plants and connects people to the environment surrounding them.

Today, the Garden features ten distinct gardens including a water garden, Dorothy and Max Rutledge Conifer Garden, Wells Fargo Rose Garden, the iconic geodesic-domed conservatory, the recent addition of the Ruan Reflection Garden and a master plan to develop an additional seven acres.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is seeking a CEO to lead the distinguished seven-acre public garden during a transformational period through the development of seven additional acres. The Garden is very close to embarking on the execution of a dynamic site master plan that has been developed in conjunction with Emmanuel Didier, founding Principal of Didier Design Studio of Fort Collins, CO, a nationally recognized landscape architecture firm (for more information, visit The successful execution of this expansion opportunity will greatly enhance the Garden’s already strong reputation. This is an exciting opportunity to build, grow, innovate and collaborate on opportunities with Greater Des Moines cultural institutions, nonprofit organizations and corporations for increased visibility and repeat visitation to the Garden.

Please click the link below to view the Master Plan.

Additionally, in 2021 the Garden will assume management and responsibility of the beautiful Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s board of directors seeks a demonstrated leader with a growth mindset who excels in community engagement and can articulate, advocate and inspire others to support the Garden’s success. The CEO provides leadership and support to the board and staff, sets the culture for the Garden and creates a welcoming environment for all. Managing approximately $3.4 million in revenues and leading a team of 25 FTE professional experts dedicated to excellence in day-to-day operations, this position also works closely with the board of directors to recommend, set and execute future-focused strategy and growth. The CEO will maximize the impact the Garden has on the broadest possible range of residents, visitors, gardeners and stakeholders, establishing excellent relationships with the business community, government and community leaders, funding agencies, educational institutions, civic and special interest groups and the public, ultimately positioning the Garden as a regionally and nationally recognized cultural institution.

Organizational Leadership
The CEO demonstrates strategic leadership balanced with authenticity, respect for others and trust-building within the organization, with board directors and stakeholders. He/she proactively drives the organization to a higher level of performance, efficiency and growth through inspiring action and commitment for best results.

Influence in the Marketplace
The CEO has a growth mindset, builds and cultivates a network of relationships, is influential and leverages the Garden’s unique position to proactively increase visibility, reputation and diversity. She/he successfully navigates the dynamics of local and regional environment, in particular relations with other not-for-profit organizations and municipal agencies.

Grow Business and Revenues
The CEO possesses a high level of business acumen and broad management skillset and is effective at generating and growing financial support for the Garden. He/she can raise funds by effectively engaging and linking a variety of donors, including individuals, corporations, grants and volunteers, to inform and contribute to advancing the Garden’s mission.

Partnership Mindset and Network-Oriented
The CEO has a partnership mindset. She/he values and leverages the power of networks and provides leadership at the local and regional level.

The Botanical Garden CEO is the Chief Mission Officer, has a clear vision for the organization, confronts the complex realities of the environment and inspires all for a better future, providing purpose, direction and motivation.

Key competencies include:
• Strong business acumen with demonstrated ability to manage and grow/transform an institution/business by executing on a strategic plan.
• Outstanding reputation for authentic leadership; commitment to building talent and highly effective teams.
• Demonstrated success co-developing, communicating and delivering on a compelling vision internally and externally.
• High degree of interpersonal skills; established strong credibility; must be personable and diplomatic in working with a diverse constituency.
• Recognized for having and fostering a partnership mindset; values and leverages the power of networks.
• Established effective and engaging working relationships with board of directors.
• Mission oriented.

Key Responsibilities:
• Lead the institution with a growth mindset, using creative, progressive and proactive approaches to leverage the Garden’s unique attributes, increasing visibility, reputation, diversity and impact.
• Develop and deliver on organizational goals and objectives consistent with the mission and vision of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.
• Lead all aspects of the current master planning initiative (seven acres), including project management and capital campaign strategy.
• Lead the due diligence of future expansion opportunities.
• Provide for the engagement, motivation, development and evaluation of team members and contributors, including volunteers.
• Lead and maximize the institution’s programming, engaging all generations and cultures in our shared mission of exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants.
• Establish and deliver on development and fundraising plans; play an active and productive role in raising funds, donor engagement, events, membership, community funding, and identifying/leveraging other sources.
• Ensure adherence to all laws and regulations affecting operations, including finance, personnel, health and safety and liability.
• Work closely with the board chair and committee chairs in planning agenda and materials for board and committee meetings plus staff board committees as appropriate.
• Serve as chief liaison to regional and national arts, cultural, community and nonprofit organizations; serve an integrated role as local and regional community leader.
• Develop a strategy for effective public relations and ensure rapport with members of the community.

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is required; a master’s degree in business or humanities is preferred.

To apply, please send a current resume and letter of introduction to Kittleman & Associates, LLC at (click on the Apply button at the bottom of the page).

To learn more about the programs and activities at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, please go to the following link:


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