Employment at the Garden

Director Plant Collections

Job Status:
Requisition Number:
Plant Collections
Reports to:
Executive Vice President and Director of the Garden
This position currently has four direct reports: the Donnelley Director of Ornamental Plant Research; Curator of Plant Collections; Curator of Bonsai; Manager of Plant Documentation
This position manages the following departments: Curation, Plant Documentation, Plant Evaluation, Ornamental Plant Research, Chicagoland Grows, Plant Collections. Occasionally, this position will supervise Interns and/or Volunteers.
This position reports to the Executive Vice President & Director of the Garden, and will provide leadership for the acquisition, documentation, verification, and curation of the permanent plant collections. The position also oversees the Garden’s ornamental plant research work, including breeding, evaluation, and introduction (through an affiliated not-for-profit Chicagoland Grows, Inc., which is controlled by the Chicago Botanic Garden). This position is a regular, exempt, full-time job with the expectation of a minimum of 40 hours per week.

This position typically reports to our Glencoe site, though portions of the work may be done remotely from time to time, and it may require travel within and outside the US from time to time. As with all positions at the Garden, staff must be in good performance standing to be eligible for remote work, which is at the discretion of management.
Duties and Responsibilities:

In this role you will be responsible for the following:  

  • Performing managerial responsibilities including annual budget development, implementation of annual operating plans (both long range and regular progress reports), approving purchase orders and invoices, conducting interviews with prospective staff, and the like.
  • Managing staff including staff professional development.
  • Providing technical expertise and regularly functioning as a resource to horticulture staff and the horticultural industry. 
  • Providing overall direction for best practices in documenting the Garden's permanent plant collections. 
  • Overseeing the Garden’s work in living plant curations relative to collections development (including the Plant Exploration program), interpretive themes and programs, public presentations, and publications.
  • Overseeing the Garden’s ornamental plant research work, including breeding, evaluation, and introduction (through Chicagoland Grows, Inc.).
  • Conducting reviews and preparing annual reports of development, condition and scope of the permanent plant collections, and articulating pertinent information in presentations to the Buildings, Gardens, and Visitor Experience Committee as spokesperson for the plant collections.
  • Conducting Garden tours and making presentations to related groups including the Woman’s Board, garden clubs, professional horticultural affiliates, and the like.
  • Occasionally promoting horticultural information to the media as requested by and in cooperation with the Communications department.
  • Ensuring that the Garden is in compliance with internal policies, and laws and regulations pertaining to its plant collections and its collecting activities.
  • In close coordination with the Development department, bringing in funding for the work of the Plant Collections departments.
  • Working closely with the following internal departments as well as external groups: Horticulture, Engagement & Learning, Science, Development, Communications, Nursery Industry, Plant Societies, other Gardens and Arboreta, and Horticulture Professionals.
  • Additional duties as assigned.

Key Garden competencies/behaviors desired:

  • As a high-level supervisor, models commitment to the Garden’s goals in equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, and supports and leads the plant collections teams through this work.
  • 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:

  • Extensive knowledge of and passion for a wide variety of plants, both native plants and ornamental plants (species and cultivars) required; additional expertise in the culture, maintenance, and management of plants preferred.
  • Working knowledge of BRAHMS plant collections database, or equivalent, required; proficiency preferred.
  • B. S. in Ornamental Horticulture, or equivalent as determined by the Garden; Master’s Degree preferred.
  • Five years of experience in plant collections work at a public garden required, seven years preferred, with inclusive administrative work experience preferred.
  • Three years of supervisory experience required, five preferred.
  • Excellent communication and management skills required.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft products.

 *The Chicago Botanic Garden requires all existing employees to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated by October 15, 2021; hires after this date must be fully vaccinated upon hire or may request a medical/religious exemption after an offer is extended.* 


Apply for Director Plant Collections using the link below:

Click here to apply.


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 40 pounds. Regular exposure to outside varied weather conditions in all seasons.
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.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a M/F, Disabled, and Vet EEO/AA Employer.

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.