Sonoma Botanical Garden (SBG) is pleased to announce the appointment of Jeannie Perales as Executive Director. Perales began in her new role on August 7, 2023.
Perales comes to SBG from Sarasota, Florida where she has served in leadership positions at numerous museums and gardens since 2006. For more than 10 years, she served as Vice President of Museum Exhibitions, Learning and Engagement at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, where she was part of the executive team designing the future of the organization through exhibitions, educational programs, strategic & site planning, fundraising efforts, and increased visibility. She was highly involved in Selby Gardens’ 10-year, 3-phase master site plan and $92 million capital campaign. Highlights of her time there include the design of an immersive art/horticultural exhibition program that married the fine arts with the living arts, the development of a traveling exhibition program, and the highly successful re-positioning of Selby Gardens as The Living Museum®. Perales oversaw program managers, curators, contractors, and nearly 800 volunteers to develop and deliver classes, tours, lectures, exhibitions, and programs for all audiences from families to schools to adult learners.
Perales also served as Chief Experience Officer for Bay Park Conservancy in 2021, working with a leadership team to design, build, and activate a new, one-of-a-kind 53-acre waterfront public park on Sarasota Bay. Most recently, Perales has been Associate Director of Development, Campaign Planning and Special Projects at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art where, earlier in her career, she served as Associate Curator of Education. She holds undergraduate degrees in Communications and Cultural Anthropology and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from University of Colorado, Denver, as well as a K-6 teaching certificate.
“Jeannie Perales’ deep professional experience in museums and public gardens, along with her energy and enthusiasm, will position Sonoma Botanical Garden for a future of growth and excitement,” says Jerry Newell, SBG Board Chair. “She brings exceptional experience in visitor-centric public programs, community engagement, fundraising, and organizational change to the Garden, and her extensive knowledge of the intersection between the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors will be optimized in this role for the good of all we serve.”
Perales’ appointment is the culmination of a national executive search that was initiated by SBG’s Board of Directors when former Executive Director, Scot Medbury announced his departure late last year. Chaired by Kimberly Morris, the Executive Search Committee worked with The Potrero Group, an executive recruiting firm focused on the environmental, public lands, and social sectors. Perales will be the Garden’s fourth Executive Director since its founding in 1987.
“I am deeply honored to be entrusted by the Board of Trustees to lead Sonoma Botanical Garden into its future,” says Perales. “I plan to activate SBG with public programs that serve Sonoma Valley while welcoming residents and visitors to this unique place. By building community partnerships, we will reach new audiences in an enlivened garden that celebrates the beauty of life on the planet. My love of children & families, gardens & nature, and education & outreach have brought me here, and I am excited to join the board, staff, volunteers, and community to grow this very special place.”