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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 it 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 the Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration/CFO, the Controller is responsible for the oversight of all finance, accounting and reporting activities, including adherence to internal controls.  Working with the Associate Vice President of Finance, the Controller creates reports and presentations for the Finance & Investment and Audit Committees of the Board of Directors and will work closely with the Garden’s senior leadership team.

The Controller directs the day-to-day accounting operations of an operating budget of nearly $40 million and supervises a small but effective team of three staff members, including functional responsibility over payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and financial systems.  The Controller will ensure that the proper systems and procedures are in place to support effective implementation of the Garden’s programs and conduct the annual financial statement audit. 

The Controller will work closely with program department heads and staff to provide them with financial information, as well as educating them regarding finance and accounting policies/procedures and investigating ways the finance department can optimally support program operations.

The Controller will partner with the Associate Vice President of Finance to ensure financial planning, reporting and budgeting processes are implemented seamlessly across the organization, and will assist with the accounting and monitoring of purchasing activities in support of the Garden’s supplier diversity program goals.  He/she will also work closely with the CFO, senior leadership, and human resources and information systems department to enhance and integrate the finance, HR, and IS functions.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

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

Finance and Accounting Leadership

  • Overseeing all accounts, ledgers, and reporting systems to ensure compliance with appropriate GAAP standards and regulatory and contractual requirements.
  • Maintaining internal controls and safeguards for receipt of revenues, expenses, and program budgets and actual expenditures, including monitoring compliance with department and organizational policies and procedures and recommending revisions as appropriate.
  • Coordinating all audit activity.
  • Ensuring that the payroll and accounts payable functions are in compliance with laws are regulations. Supervising preparation of payroll to ensure accuracy and timeliness. 
  • Monitoring operating cash flow to ensure sufficient availability for payroll and standard accounts payable.
  • Reviewing and approving documentation to support processing of corporate purchasing card charges and accounts payable checks.
  • Preparing and/or reviewing journal entries to the general ledger; reviewing and analyzing periodic financial statements in partnership with the AVP of Finance.
  • Responding timely to departmental inquires related to accounting and financial reporting issues.
  • Assisting in the preparation of reports to monitor status of grants, projects, and restricted contributions and contracts, including compliance with financial requirements. Provide accounting information to other departments as requested.
  • Preparation of annual indirect cost recovery rate proposal for federal government grants.
  • Ensures customer satisfaction through the process of monitoring, developing, improving and delivering excellent services. 

Team Leadership 

  • Leveraging strengths of finance team members, including clarifying roles and responsibilities and developing training programs to maximize and reach individual and organizational goals.
  • Providing leadership in strengthening internal communications with staff at all levels of the organization; creating and promoting a positive and supportive work environment.
  • Coordinating cross training to improve efficiency and smooth operations.
  • Professionally representing the organization to both internal and external audiences.

Key Garden competencies/behaviors desired

  • Communicates in a manner that gains the trust and support of others at all levels.
  • Works effectively with others despite differences of opinion and style; builds alliances.
  • Has a tolerance for opposing points of view.
  • Strives for collaboration. Works cooperatively, as a positive contributor to the team.
  • Demonstrates a positive attitude and shows kindness in all workplace interactions.
  • Makes decisions appropriate for level of responsibility.
  • Can effectively adapt to change; can shift gears comfortably; is flexible, and embraces 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.
  • Picks up garbage when it is seen regardless of position.
  • Follows safety guidelines to ensure a safe working environment and consistently demonstrates safe work behaviors.
  • Is welcoming of new hires.

Our ideal candidate will have the following:

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

  • 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 and AVP of Finance, the responsibility for the finance and accounting functions.
  • Minimum of a BA or BS in Accounting, Finance, or Business Administration; CPA and/or MBA preferred.
  • Solid experience coordinating audit activities and managing reporting, budget development and analysis, accounts payable and receivable, general ledger maintenance, and accounting for restricted contributions, government grants, and investments.
  • Commitment to recruiting, mentoring, training, and retaining a diverse team, including the foresight and ability to delegate effectively.
  • Keen analytic, organizational, and problem solving skills which allow for strategic data interpretation rather than simple reporting.
  • Ability to translate financial concepts to individuals at all levels, including finance and non-finance managers.
  • Must have extensive knowledge of accounting and reporting software (e.g. Financial Edge) as well as Office products, not limited to Excel.
  • Knowledge of wage and hour laws and experience with payroll and payroll processing systems such as ADP preferred.
  • Knowledge of not-for-profit tax reporting requirements.
  • Technology experience in selecting and overseeing software installations and managing relationships with software vendors; advanced knowledge of accounting and reporting software.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal; experience in effectively communicating key data, including presentations to senior management, the Board of Directors, and outside agencies.
  • Ability to translate financial concepts to individuals at all levels, including finance and non-finance managers.
Physical Demands: 
Office setting. 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.

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.