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From the Director

Michael McKechnieExecutive Director Michael McKechnie
By building partnerships among diverse organizations, focusing on creative programming, and establishing the right priorities, Executive Director Michael McKechnie has managed the successful growth of four vital nonprofits and served on the governing boards of a number of research, fundraising and civic organizations where he has provided governance, financial, and strategic planning oversight.

SFBG in 2010

Dear Friends,

Hummingbird at SF Botanical Garden

Hummingbird at SF Botanical Garden

Secure Donations through Network for Good Grey2Green Sidewalk Greening Program

Grey2Green Sidewalk Demonstration Garden

This has been a busy year!  I hope to beat the other year-end writers by covering our progress before everyone else jumps in for this time-honored tradition.  Marking time, though an artificial creation, is helpful to keep records of our past and remind us of how to position ourselves for the future.

Pathways are Complete

The Pathways Project was arguably one of the longest I have participated in here if you count all the time spent in planning.  But it is finished!  Now we look like the museum we are, with signs providing direction for the visitor throughout the Garden, and the paths themselves not only more user friendly but also conveying the visitor into the collections in a much more intimate fashion.  Along the way we lost a net of 8,600 square feet of pavement that was returned to garden.  The last stage of the project was the repaving of most of the Fountain Plaza allowing for pavers to be obtained by those wishing to commemorate loved ones and friends.  The finishing touch will be the retiling of the fountain basin itself which may have to wait until dryer weather this coming spring.

Less Concrete, More Jungle

The Grey2Green sidewalk greening project funded by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is well under way, and the educational programs will begin after the holidays in early February.  The demonstration garden for the project is on view in front of the County Fair Building.

Garden Projects

Both the Southeast Asia and Chilean/South American Garden projects are back on track after a hiatus caused in part by the demands of so many other projects we were responsible for.  The wild collected forest canopy saplings are in the ground in Southeast Asia and growing well and rapidly.  The future canopy trees of Chile are almost all in the ground and growing as well.

The Edible Garden plans are moving rapidly ahead with a targeted opening date of April 30, 2011. This will also be an art installation funded by the Creative Work Fund and designed by our project partner, Topher Delaney, an accomplished environmental artist.

The pilot GPS locational and mapping technology project to eventually locate every plant in the collection is well under way with a very smart staff funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Science.

San Francisco County has never had a Master Gardener program before.  This fall, the first ever MG classes were taught here at the Botanical Garden.

The admissions program began in early August and has proved very helpful financially, keeping three gardeners (out of 11) from losing their jobs and leaving the Garden with even fewer gardeners for crucial maintenance.

Great People

Four new professionals joined the Botanical Garden Society staff.  Two are filling positions that have existed for some time and two are the result of the admissions program.  All of them are consummate professionals in their own fields.  Craig Palmer, Director of Development, comes to us from UCSF.  Nancy Johnson, Director of Marketing, comes from the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  Shannon Gibbs, Director of Program Development was formerly coordinator for the San Mateo Master Gardeners program. And Courtney Correll, Guest Services Manager, has an excellent background in managing events and admissions programs.  All are working with few or no staff, so there is much expected of them for the future of the Botanical Garden.  These additions to our already excellent staff are clearly making improvements in programming and income generation.

Not an accomplishment of the Society but a move we heartily endorse is the new position created for Golden Gate Park that will, for the first time in  a very long time, guarantee that the Park will have a Recreation and Park Department manager who can bring all the capabilities of the Department to bear on this 1,017 acres. The position will be filled by our very own Brent Dennis, who has been ably managing the Botanical Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Park Nursery.  As one of the partners in the Park we believe this new emphasis will benefit us and all the other partners including the Conservatory, the de Young, the Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden.

Strategic Planning

Finally, we completed a strategic planning preparation grant we received from the Taproot Foundation.  This project finalized in June through the imaginative use of volunteer professionals has prepared us for the next step which will be a full-on strategic planning project that will kick off in late January. Strategic planning is particularly important now that we have accomplished so many of the objectives the Society and the Recreation and Park Department have together set out as goals.  The strategic planning project will be carried out pro bono by the Harvard Business School Community Partners program.

It's been a good year!

Warm best wishes for great holidays and a fantastic 2011!


Michael McKechnie
Executive Director, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society


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