By Carol Stocker
BOYLSTON, Mass. -The Worcester County Horticultural Society, which owns and operates Tower Hill Botanic Garden,
has announced the appointment of Kathy Abbott as Executive Director.
Abbott is a leader in conservation, having
held posts as Interim President and Executive Vice President of The Trustees of
Reservations; Director of the Conservation and Recreation Campaign of The Trust
for Public Land; Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and
Recreation; and President and CEO of the Boston Harbor Island Alliance. "Her conservation experience, management acumen and successful career as a collaborator and fundraiser are a real boon to our organization," said Chris Reece, President of the Worcester County Horticultural Society.
As Interim President and Executive Vice President of The Trustees of Reservations,
Abbott oversaw more than 25,000 acres of land and led the organization's drive to
expand its urban conservation work across Massachusetts with Urban Parks Advocates.
Prior to that, as Director of the Conservation and Recreation Campaign of The Trust
for Public Land, Abbott led an advocacy campaign that increased
the budget to manage and maintain Massachusetts' state and urban parks by 20 percent.
Abbott has developed a national reputation working on creative public private partnerships and fundraising. As the Founding President and CEO of
the Boston Harbor Alliance, Abbott partnered with the National Park Service and other
agencies, corporations and foundations to develop and manage
the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area, a new model national park.
She is the National Co-Chair of the City Parks Alliance, the only independent, nationwide
membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks.From 2003 to 2005, Abbott served as the first Commissioner of the Massachusetts
Department of Conservation and Recreation, where she oversaw the merger of the Metropolitan
District Commission and the Department of Environmental Management into a single
agency with over 1,100 employees and managed over 450,000 acres of public land
in the Commonwealth for recreation, water supply, forestry and more.
"This position is a wonderful opportunity for me to apply all of my experience to
help grow an incredible organization focused on connecting people to plants and
all the benefits they contribute to communities and the Commonwealth, and to further
the connections from gardening to our changing climate," Abbott said. "Moreover,
the Worcester County Horticultural Society is a renowned institution going back
nearly 175 years and Tower Hill Botanic Garden is simply a beautiful and amazing
place that touches people and I look forward to spending more time there."
The hiring of Abbott comes at a time when the Worcester County Horticultural Society
and Tower Hill Botanic Garden are looking to expand the role of Tower Hill Botanic
Garden in Worcester and across the Commonwealth and New England.
"The Trustees envision Tower Hill Botanic Garden as a force of nature in New England,"
Reece said. "Kathy shares that vision and has the skills to build a broad and engaged
community grounded in gardening and horticulture. At Tower Hill we want to provide
a fun and relaxing environment where we can promote the contributions that plants
make to the environment and economy. They are the source of all the air we breathe,
the food we eat and are critical to maintaining the water we drink."
Abbott holds degrees from
the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass Amherst and Harvard University.
The nation's third oldest horticultural society, the Worcester County Horticultural
Society was established in 1842; nearly 150 years later, the nonprofit organization
created Tower Hill Botanic Garden, one of New England's only comprehensive botanic