Director of Botanical

The Huntington Library, Art Museums, and Botanical
San Marino
October 22 2020
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

JOB TITLE: Marge and Sherm Telleen/Marion and Earle Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens

DATE: September 2020 

DEPARTMENT: Botanical Division 



The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens seeks a visionary leader to assume the position of Director of Botanical Gardens. Reporting directly to The Huntington President, the director has primary responsibility for the development, management, and stewardship of The Huntington’s world-class botanical collection and gardens. Within the 207-acre campus that includes 130 acres of botanical gardens and welcomes 780,000 annual visitors, the botanical collections include over 15,000 living taxa, as well as germplasm, herbarium vouchers, and material objects. This collection supports research and conservation of the earth’s biodiversity, as well as documenting the scientific, historical, and cultural importance of plants. 


Embedded in a regional population of nearly 20 million people and located just 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, The Huntington and its 18 thematic gardens serve multiple diverse audiences and reflect the cultural heritage of Southern California. In unity with its research libraries and art museum, the Gardens focus on the humanities as gateways to understanding the past and creating a better, more sustainable and equitable future. 


The successful candidate will bring knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to the Huntington collections, assuring that they are well-maintained and strategically employed in advancing our understanding and appreciation of plant life through a wide-ranging slate of formal and informal public, educational, and scholarly programs. Overseeing the work of 85 staff and several hundred Botanical volunteers, the director works with staff from other parts of The Huntington in educating and communicating with the public, fostering scholarship in the humanities and sciences, cultivating relationships with partners and donors, and managing the gardens and buildings connected with the Gardens. 


We seek an individual who possesses a deep understanding of the interrelationships between plant science, garden culture, literature, history, and art, all of which characterize The Huntington as an institution. In addition to the scientific research embedded in the Gardens, the historic Japanese Garden and the newly-expanded Chinese Garden serve as a bridge to local communities and to the other collecting divisions at the Huntington. The Gardens collections include cultural and historical artifacts which, with the other collecting areas, support an active program of exhibitions, artists- and scholars-in-residence, lectures, and symposia. As one of the institution’s three Directors of Collections, the Director of Botanical Gardens works closely with the Director of Art and Director of the Library to draw connections between The Huntington’s extensive plant collections and the institution’s 42,000 works of art, 430,000 rare books, and 11 million library objects. 


Summary of Essential Responsibilities: 

• Serves as a member of the President’s Senior Staff and collaborates closely with the Vice President for Operations and Facilities, the Director of Education, and the Directors of The Huntington’s two other collection areas, Library and Art  

• Leads Gardens staff, volunteers, and collaborators in creating landscapes, displays, and environments that inspire wonder of the natural world and establish the Huntington’s Gardens as a uniquely important asset in Southern California and worldwide 

• Fosters synergies among The Huntington’s collections through collaborative programming, exhibitions, and scholarship

• Plans redevelopment of displays and exhibitions in collaboration with other Huntington Divisions

• Manages development, documentation, study, and conservation of plant collections, ensuring the health of living collections through proper and sustainable use of water, cultivation techniques, IPM, recycling organics, etc.

• Leverages the Botanical collections to facilitate critical and timely conversations about a changing world, including topics such as climate change, food sovereignty, and sustainability

• Expands the role of the Botanical Gardens in attracting and welcoming visitors with diverse backgrounds and interests to The Huntington 

• Fosters a collaborative working environment of mutual respect, teamwork, and empowerment 

• Manages an annual budget of approximately 9M, judiciously stewarding fiscal and physical resources for effective purpose and long-term stability  

• Plays a leading role in cultivating relationships with members, donors, and potential donors to garner support for the Gardens as well as its staff and activities 

• Ensures maintenance and protection of all gardens. In collaboration with the VP for Operations, helps to maintain related campus infrastructure (paths, irrigation systems, greenhouses and nurseries, gardens signage and furnishings) and equipment 

• Supports research programs, with particular emphasis on preservation of biodiversity and applied uses, such as cryopreservation, plant evolution, and conservation genetics 

• Hires, trains and manages Gardens staff and interns, while advancing professional development and championing staff diversity, equality, and inclusiveness 

• Acquires and makes available supporting material collections, including scientific specimens, related objects, and research/reference resources

• Advances the availability of living collections for scientific communities and the wider public through propagation, exchange, distribution, and sale

• Contributes to developing, updating, and implementing the property master plan. 

• Works closely with Board leadership and helps lead the Botanical Gardens Committee of the Board of Governors

• Is strongly encouraged to reside in a house on the Huntington premises, which is non-taxable and expressly provided for the Botanical Director (qualified persons who may not be able to reside on the premises will also be considered)



• Minimally, a bachelor’s degree in botany/plant sciences, with experience in horticultural science. Advanced research degree(s) in relevant field strongly preferred. Must be able to demonstrate the experience and knowledge required to perform duties described 

Work Experience:


• 8-10 years of demonstrated and progressive management experience in a botanical garden, arboretum, or comparable organization 


• Experience working in or collaborating with non-profit organizations, arts organizations, or cultural institutions

• Experience with fieldwork and scientific research

• Record of scholarly publications 

• Track record of successful fundraising for botanical projects 

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: 

Specialist Knowledge

• Expertise in plant sciences, particularly regarding plant structure and diversity

• Significant knowledge of landscape management, maintenance, and styles

• Proven administrative, managerial and planning skills

• Experience with, commitment to, and ability to direct botanical research, including an understanding of how botanical research intersects with institutional programs that cultivate and interpret its collections

• Understanding of the relationships between building structures and gardens, including technical knowledge of infrastructure and equipment related to landscaping and botanical care (including irrigation systems and green waste management)

Technical Skills 

• Technical proficiency and confidence with standard software (Outlook, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, web browsers, etc.) as well as specialized applications related to landscaping or the botanical sciences; capacity to quickly master new tools and platforms as technologies evolve

General Skills and Qualities

• Excellent oral and written communication skills, with attention to diplomacy and tact; ability to communicate effectively and connect naturally with public audiences of all backgrounds and ages, as well as staff, specialists, and donors; capable of serving as a compelling advocate for the breadth of work being done by botanical staff as well as the future potential of the gardens

• Ability to work calmly under pressure, effectively managing multiple concurrent projects 

• Creative and interdisciplinary thinker, with a broad understanding of plants as lenses into culture and history, both locally and globally  

• Inquisitive and open-minded, with a passion for learning and a commitment to using the gardens to foster scientific and cultural literacy  

• Ability to operate seamlessly on multiple time horizons, effectively overseeing day-to-day activities in the gardens while planning with inspirational vision and pragmatic foresight for the long-range future of the Botanical Gardens 

• Spanish language skills preferred but not required 


• Track record of energetic and visionary leadership

• Proven ability to work collaboratively and individually within complex organizations, as well as building relationships with external constituencies such as botanical societies and institutional partners

• Demonstrated success in motivating, mentoring, and developing staff, as well as earning their trust and loyalty 

• Ability to articulate the vision clearly and compellingly while translating overarching goals into clear work objectives 

• Record of effective management and delegation in a complex and dynamic environment. 

• Evidence of strong cultural fluency, with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the ability to work well in a culturally diverse community 



Working Conditions:

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is an extensive and diverse campus; the Director of Botanical Gardens will have an office and work regularly on a personal computer but will spend extended time actively involved directly in the Botanical Gardens. Evening and weekend work will be necessary from time to time to promote the institution’s interests. 

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this job.  They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of employees in this job.

Compensation and Benefits:

Compensation for the position is competitive and includes all Huntington-sponsored comprehensive medical, dental, vision and life insurance plans. The Huntington also offers paid holidays, vacation and sick time, and a strong retirement plan – as well as one of the most beautiful, congenial and engaging workplaces anywhere. Additionally, this position includes tax-free use of a residence provided expressly for the Botanical Director. 


The Huntington aspires to be a welcoming place of engagement and reflection for a global community, both on-site and online. We believe that having a team of diverse backgrounds and voices working together will enable us to support and promote the appreciation of the humanities, the arts, and botanical science. The Huntington is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing employment opportunities regardless of race, religious creed, color, national origin, disability, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by local, state or federal law.

How to apply: 

Please visit to submit application materials. Please include a letter of interest, a current resume, and the names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of three professional references.  

Your letter of interest should include how you would contribute to a culture of diversity at The Huntington.

Materials will be submitted via the application portal but should be addressed to: 

Don R. Conlan, Chair of the Search Committee 

c/o Office of the President 

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens