Organization: Naples Botanical Garden

Location: Naples, FL

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About Naples Botanical Garden

Conserve. Engage, Inspire. These three words define the role of the Naples Botanical Garden in the community and around the world. The mission of the Garden is straightforward:

Connecting people with plants by conserving and researching the biological diversity of our collections and ecosystems; engaging our visitors in learning about plants, gardens and ecosystems; and inspiring our visitors to value plants, gardens and natural habitats.

In 2006, the team of Ted Flato, Raymond Jungles, Herb Schaal, Ellin Goetz, Bob Truskowski and Made Wijaya completed the master plan for Naples Botanical Garden (the “Garden”), which is located on 170 acres in Naples, Florida. A young garden, it opened the first phase of its master plan in November 2009 and completed the final phase in October 2014. The plan was developed by an elite group of landscape and hardscape architects; the result is a botanical garden that combines sublime beauty, extensive collections, healthy and diverse natural areas with award winning sustainable design.

The Garden’s theme is to represent the landscapes and flora of regions between 26 degrees north (Naples latitude) and 26 degrees south. Currently, gardens representing the Caribbean, Brazil, Southeast Asia and Florida have been completed. Of the 170 acres, 93 acres are in permanent conservation easement, approximately 50 acres have been developed into gardens and facilities and the 30 acre balance provides opportunities for future growth. The operating budget in 2015 was approximately $5 million.

In the six years since Naples Botanical Garden opened the first phase of its master plan it has grown dramatically in every aspect. It has achieved a four star rating from Charity Navigator, exceeded attendance and earned income projections and has received many accolades and awards but the most remarkable aspect of the Garden are the people involved, from an engaged, collegial Board of Directors, to a passionate and knowledgeable staff, to the 700 volunteers who worked over 35,000 hours for the Garden last year.

The Garden also has a rapidly growing array of programs in Education, Health & Wellness, Performing Arts, Conservation, Horticultural Therapy and Workforce Development.  There is also a satellite campus of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), The Harvey Kapnick Research and Education Center, at the Garden. This shared-use facility is home to several FGCU faculty and graduate students as well as the Garden’s education staff. The Kapnick Center’s facilities include a research lab, teaching lab, classrooms and an auditorium.

The popularity of the Garden is demonstrated by its rank as Trip Advisor’s #1 attraction in the region, the growth in attendance over the first five years, from 85,000 to 217,000 and the increase of member households to 9,500.

While the growth has been remarkable, great care has been given to financial sustainability and prudent budgeting with the result that the Garden has had budget surpluses over the last few years and its capital projects were completed under budget.

The Garden is governed by a committed Board of Directors who actively partner with the Executive Director and make available their experience and expertise to Garden management. The Executive Director of the Garden reports to the Board of Directors and the Board Chair.

For more information on Naples Botanical Garden, please visit its website.

History of the Garden

The Garden was founded in 1993 by a visionary group of local plant enthusiasts. The organization incorporated with the IRS with 501 C (3) status in 1994. In 2000, the late Harvey Kapnick, Jr. donated $5 million for the purchase of 170 acres of open space 3 miles from downtown Naples.

In 2006, Ted Flato, Raymond Jungles, Herb Schaal, Ellin Goetz, Bob Truskowski and Made Wijaya, dubbed the “Dream Team” by the Miami Herald, completed the master plan for Naples Botanical Garden.

Construction on the first phase began in 2008 with the digging of Deep Lake and Lake Tupke and the sculpting of the site with 250,000 yards of fill produced by lake excavation. In November of 2009 the Garden opened the Smith Children’s Garden, Kapnick Brazilian Garden, Kapnick Caribbean Garden and the Smith River of Grass.

In January 2010, The Florida Gulf Coast University Harvey Kapnick Research and Education Center, a shared use facility, opened. Later in 2010 the Garden opened the Scott Florida Garden, Buehler Enabling Garden, Garden Club of Naples Idea Garden, Lea Asian Garden and the Water Garden.

Finally in October of 2014 the master plan implementation was completed with the opening the the Chabraja Visitor Center including Kathryn’s Garden, Irma’s Garden, LaGrippe Orchid Garden, Kapnick Hall, Berger Shop in the Garden and the Fogg Café.

Today the Garden welcomes over 220,000 visitors per year to experience themed gardens that represent the culture and flora of the tropics.

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director (“ED”) will partner with the Board to embark on the development of a vision for the next phase of the Naples Botanical Garden. In partnership with the Board, s/he will develop a strategic plan for the Garden and work closely with its various constituents on the plan’s successful implementation and evaluation efforts. The vision will broadly define the direction for the Garden over the next decade and will lead to plans for both programs and physical developments.

The next leader will have the opportunity to build on this foundation and bring creative and thoughtful leadership to future developments such as:

  • The planning and building of new facilities and gardens;
  • The implementation of expanded programs in conservation, education, wellness and performing arts;
  • The securing of large scale exhibits that both create awareness of the Garden and reinforce its mission;
  • Continuing the strategic accumulation of well documented and relevant plant collections; and
  • Developing collaborations that support the Garden’s programs, exhibits and collections.

The next Executive Director will also manage the overall operations of the Garden assuring that each department is operating with a high degree of efficiency but also with a strong spirit of collaboration between departments. The ED will also work with the staff and the Board to set achievable budgets, develop and implement policies and procedures, and evaluate the Garden’s performance against both its peers and the strategic goals approved by the Board.

To realize the Garden’s exciting future opportunities the next leader will need the ability to:

  • Excite the Garden’s many constituencies with its potential to be one of the most significant tropical gardens in the World and engage them in the opportunity for excellence;
  • Represent the Garden as a leader in horticulture, plant conservation, therapeutic horticulture, vocational training in horticulture, lifelong learning, wellness, and environmental education;
  • Collaborate with diverse constituencies including FGCU, Naples Garden Club, Naples Orchid Society, Artis Naples, Collier County Board of Education, contractors, public gardens, conservation groups, arts organizations and human services organizations;
  • Lead a diverse workforce of 75 full and part-time employees, and over 700 volunteers who support the care of the gardens and serve 220,000 annual visitors; and
  • Manage a complex organization with several businesses including visitor attraction, food service, retail, events, rentals and education programs as well as a wide variety of grant-based programs. The Garden also has almost 10,000 member households, a very active planned giving program and significant annual fund, major gift and endowment programs.

The next Executive Director will also work with the Board of Directors to develop the financial resources through philanthropy and earned income that will be required to realize their vision for the Garden. The next leader will need the ability to grow operating, endowment, and capital revenue and support to sustain the Garden into the future by:

  • Cultivating new sources of revenue by creatively and strategically expanding and deepening the existing donor and visitor base;
  • Expanding and developing fundraising opportunities through new, and ongoing strategic partnerships; and
  • Ensuring successful fundraising from individuals, corporations, and foundations, as well as secure grants from federal and state government, for both operating and campaign (capital and endowment) support.

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following qualities, skills and characteristics:

A Strategic and Visionary Leader

The ED is a strategic, tactical and visionary leader who is able to set and articulate a vision for the Garden’s next chapter.  S/he can successfully leverage the skills and talents of a Board to develop a strategic plan, while working closely with the Garden’s various constituents on the plan’s successful implementation and evaluation efforts.  S/he actively and strategically seeks out partnerships and builds coalitions with local nonprofit and community organizations and their leaders on behalf of the strategic vision of the Garden. S/he is innovative, creative and skilled when it comes to building partnerships with other local, national and international institutions and leaders in the botanical field to enhance the Garden’s impact and advance its mission and strategic priorities.

Ambassador for the Garden

The ED is an “Ambassador” for the Garden, sharing the mission and vision with the outside world and helping to expand the Garden’s role more broadly. S/he exemplifies leadership and inspires trust and confidence across a diverse range of stakeholders. S/he is flexible, energetic, positive, creative and ambitious and experienced in establishing strong working relationships in furtherance of an organization’s mission. S/he has exceptional interpersonal skills with the ability to build and sustain strong support across a wide range of stakeholders including staff, Board, donors and the public. S/he develops a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivates them to engage in the opportunities and future of the Garden.  S/he inspires confidence in donors, builds collaboration and buy-in, and generates support from existing and new stakeholders.  S/he enjoys fundraising and can successfully convey the objectives of the Garden to potential donors. S/he is fluent in communicating the value of public gardens and in particular, Naples Botanical Garden, on a local, regional and international level to a broad range of constituents. S/he is a media savvy communicator who brings passion for the Garden’s mission as its spokesperson. S/he is politically astute and attuned with a sophisticated personal presence.

Nonprofit Management

The ED is a seasoned executive with strong staff, operational and financial management experience. S/he has a track record of sound financial planning, oversight and accountability, with the ability to clearly communicate financial status to the Board. The ED possesses the ability to build and inspire a staff with a diverse set of skills, provide a productive work environment and professional growth opportunities that result in team cohesion and camaraderie. S/he is a facilitator of staff and Board teamwork with the ability to provide clear expectations and accountability measures for staff deliverables while encouraging innovation and initiative.

Passion for the Mission

The ED has a true passion for the mission of the Garden and a commitment to bringing its mission to the residents of Naples and beyond. S/he is innovative with the goal of helping the Garden expand its brand and reach and deepen its work. S/he has a deep appreciation for the Garden’s aesthetic, which has become a trademark. S/he exhibits humility, a capacity to listen and dedication to the mission. It is imperative that s/he treats others with respect and always stays true to the values of the Garden. Moreover, the ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.


Alison P. Ranney, Anne B. McCarthy and Anny K. Chou of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please email Alison, Anne and Anny directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit