from Tohono Chul

Tohono Chul announces Christine Conte, PhD, Executive Director of eleven years, is retiring effective later this year. Tohono Chul is conducting a national search for a successor who has the great fortune to build on the strong foundation created over Dr. Conte’s decade of successful leadership. Dr. Conte remains in the position until it is successfully filled.

Dr. Christine Conte leaves Tohono Chul with more than thirty years of senior-level management experience building community alliances for outstanding conservation campaigns emphasizing the nature, art, and cultures of the Sonoran Desert region. Previous positions held at museums and conservation organizations include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, The Nature Conservancy, the Smithsonian Institution, American Museum of Natural History, Museum of the American Indian, Old Pueblo Museum, and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

“Dr. Christine Conte has made an immeasurable impact upon Tohono Chul,” says Andy Swarthout, President of the Tohono Chul Board of Trustees. “Through Christine’s tireless efforts and passion, we enjoy expanded, welcoming access and a solid, diverse membership. Tohono Chul proudly displays new gardens and orchards, refurbished facilities, an energy-efficient solar system, a collection and distribution network for the conservation of precious water and, perhaps the crown jewel of her stewardship, a beautiful pavilion creating a warm gathering environment while providing another source of revenue for many, many years to come.”


“Educational, special events, and docent programs are flourishing. Christine has forged everlasting philanthropic and community relationships critical to the future of this very special place we have all come to know as our oasis. Our financial stability has never been stronger looking towards the future. She has created and led a team that shares her contagious energy for the arts, culture, and nature. Today, Tohono Chul likely exceeds the Wilson’s founding vision when Tohono Chul was but a dream.”


Mr. Swarthout continued: “Dr. Conte entered Tohono Chul eleven years ago at the perfect time and with the perfect skills. She has accomplished more than we could have ever asked and, in so doing, is leaving Tohono Chul in a position for the new leadership to perform even more miracles. We are both comforted and excited that Christine has agreed to serve on the Board of Trustees. On behalf of the Trustees, we will never find the words to express our deep gratitude for the blessings Christine’s efforts have bestowed on Tohono Chul.”

The Tohono Chul Board of Trustees is conducting a national search for Dr. Conte’s successor. The Board has engaged Alexander | Carrillo Consulting, a local firm experienced in working with over 250 nonprofit organizations in Southern Arizona and Dr. Conte will serve in an advisory capacity to the Search Committee. For more information about the position, visit their website.

About Tohono Chul

Deemed “One of the World’s Ten Best Botanical Gardens” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, Tohono Chul has been celebrated by Tucson as one of its “best kept secrets” for over a quarter of a century.

Tohono Chul is a private non-profit 501©3 whose mission is to enrich people’s lives by connecting them with the wonders of nature, art and culture in the Sonoran Desert region and inspiring wise stewardship of the natural world. Set on 49 acres of lush desert, the vibrant offerings at Tohono Chul bring thousands of visitors to stroll on winding paths through themed botanical gardens, sit in a relaxing quiet spot, play with their children, view wildlife, attend an art and garden exhibit in one of the exhibit galleries, buy local products in the gift shop, gain knowledge in a lecture or guided tour, or enjoy a meal in the Garden Bistro, all while enjoying spectacular views of the Santa Catalina mountains.

Tohono Chul is located in Tucson, Arizona in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Known for its desert sunsets, beautiful saguaro cacti, and 286 sunny days a year, Tucson is growing and has a lot to offer: rich, diverse history; affordability; revitalized downtown; outdoor recreation; and 25 miles of the best Mexican food in the world. But it’s the unique Sonoran Desert environment that really makes Tucson special. It is the most biologically diverse of the U.S. deserts and is home to thousands of plant, animal, bird, and insect species.