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Senior Staff: Kris Jarantoski

Executive Vice President and Director

PHOTO: Kris Jarantoski

As executive vice president and director of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Kris Jarantoski develops and directs the horticulture, plant collections, and facilities and planning. Since joining the Garden in 1977, Jarantoski has played a major part in the creation of each of the 27 distinct gardens and four natural areas on the Garden‘s 385-acre campus.

During his time at the Garden, Jarantoski has received a number of notable awards. In 2007, the American Horticultural Society presented Jarantoski with its Professional Award for his significant contributions to the field of horticulture. In 2011, the Garden Club of America presented Jarantoski with its Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding service in the field of horticulture.

In July 2014, Jarantoski received the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) Honorary Life Member Award—its most prestigious—recognizing “an enduring commitment and contribution to the organization and leadership in the field of public gardens.” Announcing the award, Casey Sclar, executive director of the APGA, wrote, “Kris’s service to the Association for almost four decades is a beacon of leadership for others to emulate. He not only has taken the Chicago Botanic Garden from fledging garden to one of the great gardens of the world, but has lifted the entire profession along the way with his charismatic, positive grace.”

Most recently, in November 2014 Jarantoski was awarded the 2015 Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal and Award. The Scott Medal and Award, established in 1929 by Swarthmore College, recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding national contribution to the science and art of gardening; it has long been regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in horticulture.

A longtime member of the American Public Gardens Association, Jarantoski serves as a member of the Collections Committee and Design and Planning Section. He also served as chair of the Awards Committee and as midwest regional coordinator for the APGA, and has written numerous articles for American Nurseryman, The Public Garden, The Herbalist, and Museum News.

Jarantoski also serves as a member of the Screening Committee of the Garden Conservancy.

In addition to leading all horticultural efforts at the Garden, Jarantoski has participated in research efforts evaluating, selecting, and hybridizing dieback shrubs to improve their suitability to the Chicago area.

Jarantoski graduated with a B.A. in ornamental horticulture from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1974, and two years later he received an M.S. in ornamental horticulture and botany from the University of Minnesota–St. Paul. He received an M.B.A. in business management from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in 1985 and continued his studies at the Museum Management Institute, University of California–Berkeley, in 1988.

In tribute to Kris Jarantoski’s immeasurable contributions to the Garden over the decades, a campus bearing his name is now in development. For more information on the Kris Jarantoski Campus, visit

Awards and Honors

Honorary Life Member, American Public Gardens Association, 2014

Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal and Award, Swarthmore College, 2014

Distinguished Service Medal, Garden Club of America, 2011

Professional Award
, American Horticultural Society, 2007

Horticultural Commendation Award, Garden Clubs of America, Zone XI, 2007

Special Recognition Award, Garden Writers of America, 2003