from Hudson Valley 360

Mike Beck, BBG’s Executive Director, is taking a sabbatical to spend two years inEngland. He will accompany his husband, a corporate lawyer with strong expertise in the technology sector,who is pursuing a career opportunity ‘across the pond’ that will extend from this September through 2023.

During that time, Beck’s duties will be fulfilled by incoming Interim Executive Director Thaddeus Thompson. Thompson served as the Director of Institutional Advancement at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts, during a period of extraordinary growth and development. He is also a member of the Board of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, which oversees the Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley. Thompson was offered the position after a diligent candidate search conducted by members of BBG’s Board of Trustees.

“Thaddeus emerged as an outstanding candidate for a number of reasons,” says BBG Board Chair, Matt Larkin, “including an impressive record of fundraising accomplishments. His skills come to us at a perfect juncture, with Mike going on leave and BBG getting ready to launch the first phase of an exciting new Master Plan to enhance the garden.”

“I’m so grateful that the Board wanted to keep me on, and was willing to do whatever it took to find an interim solution,” says Beck. “I’ve been working with Thaddeus over the summer to prepare for the transition; it’s reassuring to know I can leave the Garden in his capable hands for the duration of my leave. He will be a great asset to BBG.”

That the Board was willing to consider a two-year sabbatical is testament to how much Mike Beck is respected and well-liked by the Garden’s staff and Trustees. His leadership, for close to eight years, has attracted a strong and talented staff with a great sense of teamwork. During his tenure, the Garden has expanded in many ways, including an arts program that has put BBG’s Leonhardt Galleries on the map as a significant cultural venue; a Music Mondays program that is attracting new audiences to the Garden; a new Tea Room offering refreshments; and exponential growth in attendance. He also successfully led the Garden through the pandemic, keeping the grounds open on a limited basis as a community service, and keeping the staff fully intact, with no layoffs.

The search for qualified leadership meant finding a candidate interested in a temporary, long-term position. For Thompson, it fit well with his professional background and his personal passions. “As someone who grew up in a family that was passionate about gardening and wine-making, it has been a privilege to work within the botanic garden world over much of the last decade. My wife and I also grew up in the region and have deep roots here, so I’m particularly excited to help BBG during this next chapter of its development. It is a true gem of the Berkshires.”

While Thompson will work independently, with full executive powers, he intends to communicateregularly with Beck, keeping him informed of developments and drawing from Beck’s extensive knowledgeof the Garden, its staff, and its community.

“This is a win/win for both Mike and Thaddeus,” says Larkin. “Mike will benefit from a brilliant refreshercourse, visiting gardens in England and Europe, making new connections that will advance our educationalofferings, while Thaddeus will utilize his substantial skills and experience to lead our Garden into a new eraof growth. We are excited to provide this career opportunity to two exceptional talents and know it willbenefit BBG immensely.”

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