The value proposition of museums and gardens is human vitality. I have spent my entire life, from museum visitor as a kid to museum leader as an adult, looking at and making programs and exhibitions, civic and community partnerships, organizational planning, with a through line of helping staff do their best work and making sure that visitors learn and return to museums over and over again.
At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I rose from summer intern to Deputy Director, immersing myself in the vital importance of museum work in our world. As the leader of 27 departments and over 400 staff—curatorial, conservation and scientific research, libraries, education, publications, and digital—I worked with commitment to the common purpose of shaping the collection, putting on superb exhibitions, and enriching visitor experience. That work requires structured governance and decisive administration matched with collaboration, curiosity, creativity, and commitment to core values.
In 2018, I leapt to the New York Botanical Garden as ninth CEO and President, the first woman to hold the position in its 127 year history. I worked with board and staff during a period of major leadership transition and institutional growth in science and arts. In just two years, I developed a long-range art exhibition plan with vital educational programs and new digital content, drafted an agenda for increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, heightened the garden’s role in the botanical and horticultural dimensions of climate change and human wellness, and expanded the urban gardening program in our region. During the summer of 2020, we not only kept our staff intact and balanced the budget, but also grew and distributed over 5000 pounds of vegetables throughout the Bronx.
In 2020, I founded The Solace Project, an initiative to connect the arts and nature to human wellness through museum visits, contemplative practice, making and writing, an initiative that continues in my weekly blog and my 2021 position as Tyson Distinguished Scholar at Chrystal Bridges.
Meanwhile, I decided to contribute my museum leadership experience to institutions working through leadership transitions, as there are so many vacancies and changes over the past year. I am currently the Interim Director at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, New York, the house and gardens of the textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen.