Chief Executive Officer, Royal Botanical Gardens
Leadership (Executive Director, President/CEO)
Job Description THE ORGANIZATION
Located at the head of Lake Ontario and within the
municipalities of Burlington and Hamilton, Royal Botanical Gardens
(RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada and one of the
nation’s first conservation lands. Comprising some 2,700 acres of
protected wetlands, botanical collections, parkland and display
gardens, and within easy access of millions of nature-starved urban
citizens, RBG dedicates its expertise in horticulture,
conservation, science and education to connect people, plants and
place for the purpose of nurturing and preserving healthy growing
life on our planet. RBG directs its efforts, and seeks the support
of individuals and organizations, to realize its dream of a world
in which everyone is awake to the beauty, diversity and necessity
of plants, and from that consciousness more actively works together
to protect and preserve plant species and habitats and, by
extension, our planet.
• RBG is a Transfer Payment Recipient within the Ministry of
Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
• We are a not for profit, registered charity governed by a
Provincial Act of the Provincial legislative of Ontario in
• The Province of Ontario is our major core funder. RBG
generates 65% of revenues within an $18M annual operating budget,
employs 95 full-time and up to 199 part-time & seasonal staff, and
is supported by the work of over 1,000 volunteers.
• Not only are we known for our gardens, collections and
programs, we are environmental leaders when it comes to
• RBG acts as a conduit to educate our visitors on how we can
adapt to climate change challenges and events.
• RBG owns and manages 2,700 acres of natural lands, botanical
collections, parkland and display gardens. Included in this is
Cootes Paradise, a protected wetland and part of the Great Lakes
System of North America.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is accountable to the Board of
Directors for the organization and financial performance of RBG in
fulfilling its mission, vision and strategic direction. The CEO
will work closely with the Board of Directors, Senior Leadership
Team and Volunteers to define and implement plans for the
organizations success by providing financial and operational
leadership, and cultivate relationships with a wide variety of
Duties & Responsibilities
STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES
• Plan, develop, implement and direct the organization’s
operational and fiscal function and performance.
• Assure that RBG has annual operating plans and a long-range
strategy which achieve its mission and toward which the
organization makes consistent and timely progress.
• Lead and direct the continuous refinement of a cohesive,
shared vision for RBG with the Board, as well as development,
periodic review (every three years) and implementation of the
Strategic Plan and achievement of its strategic goals.
• Ensure that RBG engages in all communication strategies
available to it to effectively communicate with its key
stakeholders and the general public.
• Shape RBG’s long term aspirations.
• Build, lead, mentor and retain a high-performing senior
management team that can take the organization through its next
stage of growth.
• Create, implement and enforce policies and procedures of the
organization that will improve operational and financial
effectiveness of RBG.
• Ensure constant compliance with all legal and regulatory
• Lead and direct the management and implementation of RBG’s
• Executive oversight of all processes and procedures.
• Interact with members of staff and volunteers at all levels to
• Serve as principal external representative of RBG.
• Develop successful alliances and joint ventures.
• Be visible at key events and activities in order to monitor
the trends and developments of the botanical movement in Canada and
BOARD DEVELOPMENT & RELATIONS
• Support the strategic direction, vision, mission and strategy
• Ensure open communication and credible relationships with all
members of the Board to ensure that Directors are well informed
about the organization performance.
• Support the activity and performance of the Board as directed
by the Chair of the Board of Directors and the Chair of the
• Proactively recommend potential Board members for RBG.
• Assist with the effective orientation and education of Board
members to build their knowledge, commitment and skills.
• Coordinate the work and serve as an ex-officio member of all
committees of the Board.
FUNDRAISING & EXTERNAL RELATIONS
• Represent RBG internally and externally working actively to
elevate its profile, promote and publicize its programming, and
expand appreciation for its vision & mission.
• Working with the Board and the Director of Development and
Community Engagement, provide the strategic direction for
fundraising activity; proactively participate in and support the
development process including directly soliciting individuals,
corporations, foundations and government funding sources.
• Ensure a strategic and comprehensive annual and multi-year
fund development plan that identifies prospects and donors and
enhances the short- and long-term diversified funding base
(individual, corporate, foundation, and public segments) for
• Ensure comprehensive marketing and partnership strategies to
attract and engage donors.
• Build loyal and long-term relationships with key donor
segments based on mission, cultivation and stewardship, program
outcomes and sound fiscal management.
• Monitor closely, and engage with, the political environment of
the jurisdictions that affect the vision and operations of the RBG
– local, regional, provincial and national.
• Communicate and build commitment to RBG’s strategic direction
among external constituents (Board, stakeholders, key donors,
volunteers, customers, etc.)
• Communicate and build commitment to organizational policies,
directives, and procedures among external constituents.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITY
The Board (and staff) seek a CEO who can take a proactive
leadership posture in working with them on a number of decisions
critical to the continuing growth and prosperity, which will shape
RBG and its role in the region for years to come.
The projected first year accomplishments for the Chief Executive
• Establish presence at RBG and within the community and make an
immediate impact in this leadership role by keeping pace with
ongoing matters and the daily demands of the position. Increase
visibility of RBG as the community’s “best kept secret”. This
includes developing effective working relationships with all key
stakeholders including Board members, senior leadership team,
managers and staff at all levels, volunteers, guests and
Burlington/Hamilton cultural, educational, business and community
• Lead and direct the continuing development, management and
implementation of RBG’s Master Plan and master planning
• Lead the development and implementation of a five-year
Strategic Plan and the implementation of its strategic goals,
focusing on clearly defined measurable objectives.
• Bring a fresh set of eyes to RBG’s new organizational
structure with the goal to fully realize the vision of this
alignment. This includes integrated technology, team spirit and
staff morale with elimination of any holdover “we-they” mentality.
Develop a collaborative culture among Board, staff and volunteers.
Identify and remove barriers to cooperation.
• In addition to executive leadership of the Gardens, continue
RBG’s current efforts and create expanded opportunities for “the
greening of RBG.”
• Enhance RBG’s presence and reputation in Ontario and
nationally through collaborations, alliances and partnerships with
other area education, government and related organizations and
• Lead RBG’s ongoing response to COVID-19 that allow staff,
volunteers, guests and key stakeholders with safe access to the
• Lead the recruitment of a new Chief Operating Officer for RBG
that will focus on the day-to-day operations of the
Education and Experience
The ideal candidate must have a proven track record of success
and has served in a key leadership position of a complex
organization through periods of positive growth and change for at
least 10 years. This individual may come from a variety of
backgrounds: service as the top executive of a comparably-sized
arboretum, botanical garden, natural history museum or other
non-profit organization focused on the natural world; experience as
a senior-level executive at a larger like enterprise as noted
above; or an executive from a complex private or public sector
entity who has had significant involvement with non-profits as a
The successful candidate must have the demonstrated ability to
manage financial affairs of an organization; i.e., develop or
enhance fundraising and all revenue sources; experience managing
and large budgets and control expenditures so as to preserve
financial stability and growth.
A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university is required,
for example - Business or Public Administration. An advanced degree
such as an MBA or a PhD is a plus, as well as professional working
experience in horticulture, botany, or a related field.
• Executive leadership experience: at least 10 years serving in
senior and executive leadership roles; has led a comparably complex
and preferably multi-site organization.
• Planning: has worked with a Board, management and staff to
develop and implement successful strategic and tactical plans.
• Board relationships: significant involvement with Board
development and governance issues and Board interactions.
• Resource development: experience with varied successful
funding activities including development programs, capital
campaigns, publications and advertising, special events, membership
and other revenue generation programs.
• Donor/investor relations: effective communications and
relationship development with donors, investors and corporate
partners; demonstrated ability to cultivate current partners and
expand their financial commitment to the organization and its
• Community/regional development: able to effectively manage
interactions with local and regional organizations to achieve
• Media/public relations: ability to effectively articulate
history, mission, activities, goals and objectives of RBG to the
media and the community at large.
• Marketing orientation: ability to promote the organization in
a variety of ways.
• Visitor experience: maintains a strong orientation to
legendary visitor relations and conveys this passion and techniques
to staff and volunteers at all levels.
• Management: has managed, developed, and motivated effective
staff and volunteers; team-oriented with a collaborative management
• Community relations: effective interactions with the public,
guests and other constituents.
• External relationships: develops effective relationships with
key stakeholders, including elected officials, educational
institutions, related arboretums and botanic gardens, and external
vendors and advisors.
• Technology: computer literate; understands and embraces the
impact of information technology changes on non-profit
• Research: experience with and/or commitment to supporting
scientific research efforts regarding the natural world and overall
environment; engagement with university partners preferred.
• Leadership: possesses and demonstrates leadership qualities
including presence, vision; leading, managing and motivating
department leaders, staff and the volunteer organizations.
• Collaborative: demonstrates the ability to work with others to
forge effective working relationships with various parties; uses a
management style which supports and encourages the efforts of staff
and volunteers; takes a team approach in working with others.
• Communication: effective communicator with internal and
external audiences; strong written communication and public
presentation skills; active listener; demonstrated ability to speak
from prepared text and extemporaneously.
• Interpersonal skills: can relate to people of diverse social,
economic and cultural backgrounds.
• Integrity: credible and possesses the highest ethical and
• Visibility: highly visible to staff, volunteers, key
stakeholders and the community; active in related professional
• Disposition: demonstrates a positive, optimistic attitude;
able to maintain appropriate work/life balance life; able to
maintain an appropriate sense of humor.
• Managing Millennials: has demonstrated a strong ability to
attract millennials to the Gardens with continued intensive focus
on social media marketing.
• Initiative: demonstrates the ability to get things done and
• Digital Presence: possesses strong knowledge of initiatives to
increase digital presence of the Gardens and corresponding
• Execution of Strategy: demonstrates ability to be strategic in
their own right, but able to take an existing master plan and not
only support it, but build upon it, maintain the key attributes of
the Master Plan.
The Royal Botanical Gardens offers a competitive compensation
package based on qualifications and experience. All qualified
candidates are encouraged to apply and express their interest
The Bedford Consulting Group is an equal opportunity employer
committed to the principles of non-discrimination in the workplace.
It is also our policy to source and present candidates on a
non-discriminatory basis. Proactively, we make every good faith
effort to include a diverse pool of candidates in our search
We appreciate all applications, however, only those candidates
selected for an interview will be contacted.