Executive Director Search

The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park
Traverse City, MI

The board of directors of The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park is pleased to announce its search for The Garden’s first executive director.  Located on a site of historic interest in northern Michigan, this vibrant and expanding garden provides opportunities for enjoyment, education, celebration, and respite to over 30,000 visitors each year. The Executive Director will provide leadership for The Garden’s next phase in its growth and development, including establishing new garden spaces and features, expanding educational programming, cultivating community engagement, and expanding resources.  This is a full-time position with a competitive salary range and benefits.  

To Apply

Submit a letter of application describing relevant experience and professional accomplishments in relationship to the position description below, along with a complete resume and the names and contact information for three references.  Please send the application electronically to info@thebotanicgarden.org, followed by a hard copy of your application to:

Helen Grove, Search Committee Coordinator
The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park
PO Box 1247
Traverse City, MI 49685

Review of applications will begin October 25, 2021.

The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park welcomes and encourages applications from all interested persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability, or status as a veteran.  

Executive Director Position Description


Essential skills:

  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • The ability to work effectively with a wide array of people, including visitors, board members, staff, members, and volunteers
  • Demonstrated ability to provide effective leadership to accomplish the organization’s mission and goals 
  • Demonstrated ability to manage resources and operations effectively to accomplish the organization’s goals
  • Successful professional experience in fundraising
  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree

Highly desirable skills:

  • Knowledge of public gardens, their development and operations 
  • Successful past experience in a leadership position with a non-profit organization

Duties and Responsibilities of The Executive Director

  • Coordinates the strategic planning process for The Botanic Garden and aligns resources, staff, and volunteer support to accomplish the goals and objectives of the plan, as approved by the Board of Directors.
  • Provides leadership for resource development to support The Garden’s operations and development, including fundraising, grants, and developing relationships with foundations, corporations, and individual donors.
  • Recommends to the Board policies, programs, and initiatives to advance The Garden’s mission and continuing development.
  • Works closely with Board ad hoc committees, as well as with volunteers, to accomplish the mission of The Garden.
  • Manages day-to-day operations, including serving as project manager on construction projects with outside contractors.
  • Along with the Board chair and treasurer, oversees compliance with legal requirements, including federal, state and local regulations and the preparation and filing of financial documents, especially with regard to 501(c)(3) status.
  • Maintains a strong professional network in the local community and with public gardens in the state and region.
  • Maintains a strong and effective working relationship with the Recreational Authority that oversees Historic Barns Park.
  • Serves as spokesperson and chief advocate for the mission of The Botanic Garden. 
  • Establishes strong partnerships in the community and enhances The Garden’s public image in order to expand interest and support.

Board Relations

  • Reports to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.
  • Participates in and provides staff support for all Executive Committee and Board meetings.  
  • Communicates regularly with the Board of Directors on the state of The Garden, its operations, activities, membership, and growth.
  • Identifies, assesses, and informs the Board of Directors of internal and external issues, trends, opportunities, and risks that may affect the organization.
  • Ensures compliance with The Garden’s by-laws and policies.
  • Initiates and directs the development of policies for Board review and approval.
  • Prepares official correspondence and executes legal documents jointly with designated officers.
  • Helps maintain succession plans for all key positions in the organization.
  • Serves as an ex-officio member of standing committees:  Finance, Development, Landscape, Marketing, Membership, Program, Venue Use, Gift Shop and Site/Maintenance.

Business Development and Financial Management

  • Works directly with the standing committees and board treasurer in the development of a draft annual budget. Finalizes the annual budget with the Executive Committee and Board.
  • Manages The Garden’s budget to support the mission and financial objectives of the organization and ensures that the organization operates within budget guidelines and expenditure requirements.
  • Works with garden and landscape designers and oversees contractors on capital projects.
  • Reports on the effectiveness of initiatives, programs, and projects.
  • Works with Board members, staff, and volunteers to deepen and refine all aspects of communication, from web presence to external relations.
  • Cultivates strong relations with past, present, and potential donors.
  • Promotes and oversees events at The Garden that generate revenue while contributing to The Garden’s mission.

Administration and Supervision

  • Maintains a climate that attracts, retains, and motivates a diverse group of quality people.
  • Recruits and encourages staff and volunteer leaders.
  • Promotes active and broad participation by volunteers in all areas of the organization’s work.
  • Administers staff position development as well as the hiring, support, performance evaluation, and termination of employees.  
  • Supervises and directs all staff in their assignments and duties.
  • Wherever possible, promotes partnerships with other organizations that will further The Garden’s mission.
  • Maintains a calendar of events and works with venue coordinators to ensure that each garden event and facility will be adequately staffed and well managed.

Public Relations

  • Represents the Garden in dealings with key stakeholders, donors, the media, and the community and acts as the chief fundraiser of the organization. 
  • Sustains a solid working relationship and effective communication with the Recreation Authority, the Michigan Botanic Garden Directors group, and other management entities at Historic Barns Park.
  • Actively promotes a year-round presence in The Garden’s activities, programs, and goals, working in concert with the Marketing Committee.
  • As the spokesperson for The Garden, behaves and communicates in a manner that promotes and fosters a strong culture of teamwork and cooperation throughout The Garden with co-workers, volunteers, visitors and employees.
  • Helps to promote The Garden to the public through the website, social media, newsletters, brochures, classes, workshops, etc.  
  • Maintains a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in botanic gardens nationally and attends meetings and workshops of the Michigan Botanic Gardens Directors group and the American Public Garden Association.

About The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park

The mission of The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park is to design, build and manage a year-round botanical garden in Northwest Michigan for the purposes of botanical and environmental preservation, education and research and the enjoyment and renewal of citizens and visitors.

Brief History

The Botanic Garden’s design and mission reflect the unique history of its site. In 1885 Traverse City became home to a large state psychiatric hospital that served the northern region of the state for over 100 years. The hospital’s farm produced the food for over 3,000 patients and their staff, and part of that farm is now preserved by the 56-acre Historic Barns Park and its 26-acre Botanic Garden.  The first superintendent, Dr. James Munson led the way for more the humane treatment of psychiatric patients, including providing freedom to explore and enjoy beautiful outdoor spaces.  His philosophy that “beauty is therapy” now echoes throughout the Botanic Garden’s spaces, activities, and programs.  

Site and Operations 

Following extensive site remediation and a successful capital campaign to fund the renovation of a former granary to serve as the visitor center, The Garden opened to the public in 2014 and installed its first garden. Steady development has been made possible through the generous support of donors and members, along with the talent and dedication of over 300 volunteers.  

The Botanic Garden’s master site plan for The Garden, developed in 2009 by the noted landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, is followed closely today. Ten gardens are now in place, and planning for continued development is underway.  Annual  attendance is over 30,000 visitors per year, and The Garden enjoys strong collaborations with an array of organizations in the region. Because The Garden is located in a public park, there is no admission fee; sources of revenue include donations, venue rentals, memberships, gift shop sales, class fees, and grants.  A wide variety of educational programs are offered for children and adults, both in-person and online.  

A capital campaign was launched in early summer 2021 to raise funds to renovate the upper floor of a large historic dairy barn as an education and conference center to support a broad array of educational and cultural programming for people of all ages. Additionally, the capital campaign will also raise funds to install a children’s sensory garden, a collaborative project with The Friendly Garden Club of Traverse City.

The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park is a 501c(3) non-profit organization with an independent board of directors. The Garden works collaboratively with The Joint Recreational Authority of Traverse City and Garfield Township, the entity which oversees the park. The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park is the only public botanic garden in Northern Michigan and has received enthusiastic support from the region.  

About Traverse City

The Botanic Garden is located in Traverse City, Michigan, the commercial, health care, and cultural center for the northwest region of the State. Traverse City is very frequently cited as among the best small cities in America, and the surrounding region is widely recognized as among the most beautiful natural areas in the country.  The area’s  strong business base, world-class health care, and unique cultural features such as The Traverse City Film Festival and The National Writers Series make Traverse City a vibrant community in which to live.  For more information, please visit: