Associate Vice President, Foundation and Corporate Relations

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—we 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 community science. At a mere 48 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. Its Lenhardt Library contains 150,000 volumes, including one of the nation’s best collections of rare horticultural and botanical books. The Garden has 53,000 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 $44 million and recently completed a $140 million capital and endowment campaign. It has received a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for five years in a row.

Reporting to, and working with, the executive vice president of external affairs, the associate vice president of foundation and corporate relations will manage the private foundation and government grants function at the Garden (raising roughly $4-$6 million per year), as well as the corporate sponsorship and corporate partner program (raising roughly $2 million per year). This position will work seamlessly with the Board of directors and the program departments including Learning and Engagement, Urban Agriculture, and Science, as well as the CEO, to ensure we are applying for the right grants against our strategy and priorities and that the process is properly managed throughout the organization, including accounting, grant management, and donor stewardship. Corporate Relations works across all areas of the organization, including the Board and also Visitor Programs and Marketing to ensure the Garden delivers value for its sponsorships. This position will also work on a collaborative basis with the other development departments, including major gifts, fundraising events, membership, and annual giving.  

This area generates roughly $8 million in revenue for the Garden, and the future plan is to grow this line of revenue across private foundations, government, and sponsorship. Importantly, this position will need to balance the need to cultivate new relationships with donors while managing the existing relationships so we can continue to expand our reach with donors locally, nationally, and internationally.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

In this role you will be responsible for the following: 

  • Develop and manage annual and long-term comprehensive fundraising plan for foundation, corporate foundation, and government support. Team delivered $8.6 million in public and private funds in 2017.
  • Develop and manage annual and long-term plan for corporate sponsorship, corporate partner program and other corporate relations activities including the Corporate Roundtable for Sustainability.
  • Identify, analyze, and develop strategies to pursue new foundation, corporate foundation, and government prospects to grow donor base in concert with development leadership, senior staff, and Board of directors.
  • Work with Garden senior staff and program staff to establish fundraising priorities and develop strategies to support existing programs as well as strategic growth.
  • Develop and oversee an active schedule of grant solicitations and reports (225+ annually), cultivation visits, donor communication, and cultivation activities; as well as a corporate portfolio of 50+ annually.
  • Write letters, proposals, and reports as needed. Review and edit letters of inquiry, proposals, reports, and thank you letters.
  • Develop strategic alliances with aligned nonprofits and agencies in pursuit of funding.
  • Direct, develop, and mentor foundation and government relations staff and manage team budget and resources.
  • Prepare Board and financial reports and other information as requested.
  • Provide support to executive vice president of external affairs.

Key Garden Competencies/ Behaviors Desired:

  • Leading a team of eight professionals, regularly reviewing strategy, priorities, and processing to ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency of the team.
  • Provide ongoing review of processes, especially with government grants, to ensure proper compliance.
  • 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 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 environment.
  • Anticipate organizational needs; actively work to solve problems and identify organizational risks.
  • Communicate in a manner that gains the trust and support of others at all levels.
  • Strives for collaboration. Work cooperatively, as a positive contributor to the team.
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude and show kindness in all workplace interactions.
  • Ability to make decisions appropriate for level of responsibility.
  • Can effectively adapt to change; can shift gears comfortably; be flexible and embrace change with a “can-do” attitude.
  • Is self-aware; knows personal strengths and weaknesses; seeks feedback and is open to negative feedback as an opportunity for improvement.
  • Is cool under pressure; can be counted on to hold things together during tough times; can handle stress; is not knocked off balance by the unexpected; is a settling influence during a crisis.
  • Recognizes problems, constructively identifies and articulates solutions.
  • Follows safety guidelines to ensure a safe working environment and consistently demonstrates safe work behaviors.
  • Welcoming of new hires.



Our ideal candidate will have the following:


  • Bachelor’s degree and minimum seven years of experience in grant fundraising for private foundations, government, and corporate relations.
  • At least three years of experience in leading a high-performing team.
  • Impeccable internal and external communication and writing/editing skills as well as strong organizational and analytical abilities.
  • Good understanding of finance and management of restricted funds.
  • Excellent ability to multi-task to manage multiple projects and deadlines.
  • Ability to be pro-active, work independently, manage cross-departmental relationships, and also function as a member of the larger development team.
  • Knowledge of the following is a plus: federal cost principles and compliance requirements related to government funding (BLM, NSF, USDA, USFS, IMLS, NPS, NFWF, USFWS, City of Chicago, etc.)
  • Has current relationships with Chicago corporate community.
  • Comfort with budget and expense report development.
  • Passion for the environment, education, science, or community programs preferred.
  • Familiarity with Raiser’s Edge preferred.


Physical Demands: 
Office setting. 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.
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.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the 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.