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Associate Vice President, Finance

Requisition Number: 
Job Status: 
The Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the world's great botanic gardens and living museums, known for its stunning collection of landscapes and horticultural displays as well as for its plant conservation science and education programs. Our mission—to cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life—inspires more than one million people a year who visit and tens of thousands more whom we reach through our outreach programs in urban agriculture, horticulture therapy, and citizen science. At a mere 46 years young, the Garden is one of only 17 public gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums. Its 27 display gardens and four natural areas cover 385 acres and are uniquely sited on nine islands. The permanent plant collections contain about 2.7 million plants representing more than 12,000 taxa. The Garden has 51,000 members—one of the largest memberships of any U.S. botanic garden. Its Lenhardt Library contains 150,000 volumes, including one of the nation’s best collections of rare horticultural and botanical books.The Garden has 51,000 members—one of the largest memberships of any U.S. botanic garden. The Garden is one of two cultural institutions within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. It is an independent 501(c)(3) organization with an annual operating budget of nearly $40 million and is in the final stages of a $125 million capital and endowment campaign. It has received a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for five years in a row. For more information on the Chicago Botanic Garden, please visit

Reporting to, and working with, the executive vice president of finance and administration/CFO, the associate vice president of finance (AVP) will lead the Garden’s annual business and financial planning processes, including the development of department operating plans and budgets and the capital planning process and capital budgets. The AVP is a member of the Garden’s senior management team and will work with his/her colleagues to improve business planning, financial analytics, risk management, systems management, procurement, and operational effectiveness. He/she will oversee a small but effective team and will own the financial operations dashboard, manage financial performance versus budget, monitor debt covenant compliance, cash flow planning, and business modeling and analytics.

The AVP will partner with the controller to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of the Garden’s finance and accounting teams to ensure that the Garden’s core accounting functions (including payroll, treasury, accounts payable, and accounts receivable operations) are operating seamlessly across the organization while considering the adequacy and efficiency of policies, procedures, and internal controls. In addition, the AVP will partner with the CFO, senior leadership, and human resources and information systems departments to enhance and integrate the finance, HR, and IS functions.

This position will act as a back-up to the CFO, and will work with a successful leadership team to take the Garden forward to its 50th anniversary and beyond.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

Finance Leadership

 Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Leading the development and preparation of the overall Garden operating and capital budgets (including the annual budget submission to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County) and forecasts, which reflect the allocation of available resources to accomplish program goals.
  • Consistently analyze financial data and present financial reports in an accurate and timely manner; clearly communicate monthly and annual internal financial statements; monitor progress and changes and keep senior leadership informed of the Garden’s financial status.
  • Working with the CFO, own the long-term capital cash flow model which informs senior leadership and the Board of Directors of cash needs and planning assumption sensitivities, in support of major fundraising goals and initiatives.
  • Preparing and/or directing the preparation of the annual updates of the Garden’s endowment fund summaries and long-term endowment growth projections.
  • Managing the recording and reporting for unusual and significant transactions. Assisting in the preparation of reports to the Board of Directors and management.
  • Assisting the CFO in all aspects of financial reporting, training and taking on special projects as assigned.
  • Regular interaction with Board of Directors, Garden’s management team and outside auditors.
  • In partnership with the CFO, overseeing the Garden’s procurement activities, including negotiations of vendor contracts and partnerships, with emphasis on diversifying the supplier base in support of the Garden’s annual MBE/WBE purchasing goals.
  • Working with the CFO, oversee the Garden’s Enterprise Risk Management program, including annual updates and improvements for presentation to the Board of Directors and management.
  • Directing the annual audit of financial statements in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles with the Garden’s independent outside auditors.
  • Preparing and/or directing the preparation of tax returns required by federal and state authorities, including Forms 990, 990-T, 5500, and 8955-SSA.
  • Overseeing the accounting for government grants and restricted contributions and contracts, including preparation and/or review of budgets, annual indirect cost rate submission, and compliance with financial and regulatory requirements, particularly those related to federal government grants. Provide guidance and training to other departments to ensure compliance.
  • Overseeing administration of Garden’s retirement plan with TIAA, the Garden’s retirement plan provider.
  • Working with Human Resources on the financial analytics of the Garden’s self-insured employee health plan.

 Team Leadership/Key Garden Competencies and Behaviors Desired 

  • Leading a team of financial professionals, regularly reviewing the finance department to assure practices and skills are up-to-date and support the changing needs of the Garden.
  • Support improvement projects across the organization that increase overall understanding of finance, budgets, and strategic alignment with the Garden’s annual priorities and long-term strategic objectives.
  • A “hands on” leader who is able to juggle multiple priorities and meet strict deadlines.
  • Must demonstrate a high degree of flexibility, responsibility, involvement, and cooperation.
  • Strong team orientation, with a commitment to building, mentoring, and retaining a diverse team, including the ability and foresight to delegate effectively and to lead and implement change.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communications skills, both written and verbal; experience in effectively communicating key data, including presentations to senior management, the Board of Directors, or other outside partners.
  • Ability to build alliances, work effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style, lead multiple teams, and function in a collaborative manner.
  • Anticipate organizational needs; actively work to solve problems and identify organizational risks.

Our ideal candidate will have the following: 

Seven to ten years of accounting and finance experience, ideally beginning in accounting and/or audit, followed by experience in collecting, evaluating, presenting, and reporting financial information to executive teams and external stakeholders. Experience in a complex nonprofit organization that has multiple programs and a variety of revenue streams is preferred. Other qualifications include the following: 

  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and a commitment to the Garden’s mission; a pro-active thinker who will own, in partnership with the CFO, the responsibility for the finance function.
  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business administration; CPA and/or MBA preferred.
  • Solid experience coordinating budget development and analysis, payroll, government grant compliance, and bank reconciliations.
  • Must be highly proficient in Microsoft Excel and other Microsoft products.
  • Knowledge of federal and state wage and hour law.
  • Knowledge of not-for-profit tax reporting requirements.
  • Ability and desire to translate complex financial concepts to individuals at all levels, including finance and non-finance managers.
  • A strong track record in grants management, including compliance and reporting of government, corporate, and foundation grants, a working knowledge of OMB Uniform Guidance for federal government grants, federal funding award administration, indirect cost recovery procedures, and restricted contribution guidelines and regulations.
  • Technology experience in selecting and overseeing software installations and managing relationships with software vendors; advanced knowledge of accounting and reporting software systems.
  • Keen analytic, organizational, and problem-solving skills which allow for strategic data interpretation versus simple reporting.
Physical Demands: 
Frequent sitting, standing, walking, bending, listening, speaking, and keyboarding. Use of office equipment including computers, telephones, copiers, scanners, and fax machines. Some requirements for lifting, pushing, or pulling items less than 30 pounds. Exposure to outside varied weather conditions.
Why Apply?: 

Come work in a setting that is like no other as you support our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. Take the first step toward being one of the employees who make the Garden one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Apply today. Please note that applicants who do not meet the required qualifications will not be considered.

Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and qualifications required of personnel so classified.

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, Chicago Botanic Garden does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its programs or activities, including in employment or admissions. Please call (847) 835-8264 to contact our Title IX Coordinator should you have questions or concerns.