Chicago Native Brings International Science, Education and Cultural Programming Experience


The Board of Directors of the Chicago Botanic Garden has named Jean M. Franczyk as its next president and CEO, effective April 1, 2016. Franczyk has been in leadership roles with the Science Museum Group in the United Kingdom since 2006 and has been deputy director of the Science Museum in London since 2014.

“Jean offers a wonderful mix of skills and proven experience in leading large-scale cultural institutions,” said Robert F. Finke, board chair of the Chicago Botanic Garden. “She will bring strong science, education and public programs expertise to one of the great botanic gardens of the world and a crown jewel of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. She is well-positioned to strengthen the Garden’s reach and reputation not only in the U.S. but also internationally.”

“As a professional who has dedicated a large portion of my career to connecting people to culture through science, education and the arts, I am thrilled to be joining the Chicago Botanic Garden. It is a significant advocate for plant conservation and protection worldwide and provides a powerful means of connecting people to the natural world,” Franczyk said.

Franczyk succeeds Sophia Shaw, who has been president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden since 2007.

The U.K.’s Science Museum Group (SMG) includes the Science Museum in London, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon, and the National Media Museum in Bradford. Collectively, SMG hosts 5.7 million visitors annually and is the world’s most significant group of science and industry museums.

The new position is a homecoming for the Chicago native, who has lived in London for the last 10 years. Franczyk grew up on the South Side and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds a master’s in public policy studies from the University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy Studies.

Franczyk’s experience spans government, nonprofit and private sectors over a 30-year career.
Before becoming deputy director of the Science Museum, Franczyk served as both the director of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and SMG’s director of learning. In Chicago, she led education programs and guest services operations at the Museum of Science and Industry; served as the chief of staff for the Chicago Board of Education; was a policy adviser to Mayor Richard M. Daley; and managed a grant-making portfolio for Chicago Community Trust. Franczyk also worked as a journalist for the Chicago Reporter and the Miami Herald.

She is a fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce); a member of the Royal Society’s Public Engagement Committee and an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute.