Director of the Gardens

Location: Corona del Mar, CA
Deadline: August 30, 2013

Job Description

Sherman Library & Gardens is a 2.2 acre cultural center located in Corona del Mar, California. The Gardens provide a museum of living plants, displayed amidst a setting of immaculate gardens, patios, and conservatories, linked together by wide brick walkways, beds blooming with seasonal flowers and bubbling tile fountains. The Library is a specialized research center devoted to the study of the Pacific Southwest during the past 150 years. Sherman Library & Gardens is operated by Sherman Foundation, a public charity, partially supported by contributions from philanthropic organizations and the general public.

Currently, there is a Director of the Library and a Director of the Gardens, both of whom report to the Foundation’s President, who, in turn, represents the Board of Trustees. The Directors work independently and, when called upon, in unison with each other. The daily operations depend upon a paid “lean” staff which is augmented by a vital volunteer organization of over 100 enthusiastic individuals.

Sherman Library & Gardens is classified an IRC Section 501(c)(3) public charity and the ongoing operation, maintenance, and preservation of the facilities is partially funded by donations from the public, businesses and other philanthropic organizations both in Orange County and elsewhere.

Mission of the Gardens

The Mission of the Gardens is to conduct educational and cultural programs for its members and the general public and to maintain a state-of-the art botanical garden.

For more information, please see the website at

The Gardens

Sherman Library & Gardens was built in the 1960s and 70s by its founder Arnold D. Haskell. The cultural center boasts meticulously maintained botanical gardens with an emphasis on colorful seasonal displays of annuals and perennials as well as tropicals, sub-tropicals, cacti and succulents. Botanical collections include: palms, cycads, ferns, anthuriums, roses, fuchsias, begonias, and orchids. This unique garden is enjoyed by casual visitors and also studied by students and avid horticulturists. The Gardens’ Education Program engages the community through horticultural classes, weekend gardener workshops, evening lectures, children’s programs, docents-led tours and annual regional flower shows. The facility also includes a Garden Shop and full-service restaurant. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION:

The Director of the Sherman Gardens is responsible for the direction, organization and management of the Gardens. In particular, the responsibilities shall include:

  • Day-to-day leadership of the Gardens’ staff members, volunteers, and docents, to ensure the on-going maintenance and integrity of the Gardens’ plantings and collections.

  • Supervision of the day-to-day operations, and maintenance of the 2.2 acre city block to assure that the buildings and grounds are maintained in a safe and attractive manner, as well as bi-annual safety inspections and periodic illness and injury prevention programs to ensure a safe environment for staff, volunteers, and visitors.

  • Participation in grant preparation and other aspects of fund raising activities of the Library and Gardens.

  • Budgeting of resources, financial and material, for on-going operations of the Gardens.

  • In conjunction with the Director of the Library, participation in preparation of publications, including periodic newsletters and articles in industry journals and magazines showcasing the Library and Gardens’ holdings.

  • Development of policy and strategic planning for the Library and Gardens’ future.

  • Involvement in development of fund raising strategies to build and increase annual donations through outreach and the Friends’ memberships.

  • Development of an annual budget for the Gardens.

  • Working in concert with the Director of the Library, development of events and activities to promote the Education Program with classes and lectures for adults, children and community organizations in support of the mission of Sherman Library & Gardens.

  • Working diligently to ensure that all the major events are successful (Society of Fellows Dinner, Volunteer Garden Tour, Christmas Garden Shop Preview Night and periodic flower shows, etc).

  • Development of relationships with other educational institutions, botanical gardens, plant societies, garden clubs, the nursery industry, and other like-minded organizations in order to promote classes, lectures, garden shows, and special events that relate to the Gardens.

  • Acting as ambassador of Sherman Gardens in the community ~ participating in garden- related professional organizations through presentations, lectures and classes highlighting Sherman Library and Gardens and its contribution to the community.

  • Maintaining a professional rapport with the food service manager and wedding coordinator of the restaurant/caterer on the premises to ensure all operations follow Library and Gardens’ policies and are acceptable to the visitors and guests.

  • Supervision of annual pruning of the Gardens’ tree collection using outside professional arborists.

    The Director of the Gardens has duties separate from the employed staff members who are hired on an as-needed basis. The Director, though familiar and conversant with the horticultural aspects of the Gardens, also has a broader role beyond academic details and knowledge ~ a role that encompasses comprehensive management skills appropriate to the management, maintenance, and growth of the Gardens as well as maintaining relationships with volunteers, donors and the community.


    Reporting to the President of Sherman Foundation, the Director of Sherman Gardens will supervise paid staff and contractors as needed. In addition, the Director of the Gardens must work collaboratively with the Director of the Library as they share facilities and have joint programming at various times throughout the year. He/She must also be comfortable with community outreach, particularly to senior centers and horticultural societies. Accordingly, the Director will be a compelling and charismatic leader who will engage the community and energize the Gardens’ stakeholders around institutional values and mission. The Director should have the capacity to work at the intersection of innovative entrepreneurial leadership and best business practices, of consensus-oriented management and effective decision-making, and of strategic visioning and practical operations. The ideal candidate will have fund raising experience and/or the potential of establishing relationships for the benefit of the Gardens.

    The Director of the Gardens must be an entrepreneurial self-starter, willing to wear many hats including that of a fund raiser, horticulturist, manager, community liaison and administrator. The potential accomplishments of the new Director are limited only by his/her energy and effort. The ideal candidate should be able to create interest in the Library & Gardens through lectures, writings, and community outreach and be an able, enthusiastic fund raiser.

    The Director will be an inspirational leader, both internally to staff and externally to the various constituencies interested in Sherman Library & Gardens. He/She will be a visible and approachable leader who can interact comfortably with a wide range of people, recognizing specific interests and aspirations and creating a community of shared values. He/She will be able to articulate the vision of a twenty-first century horticultural center.

    The successful candidate should have strong organizational, administrative and financial skills. Knowledge of fiscal and budget management is important. Ideally, the Director should have an understanding of institutional image building, marketing, external relations, fundraising, and have the presence and capacity to move initiatives forward in those areas.

The Director should be a decisive coalition builder who can instill a high level of accountability in team-based decision-making. As such, the Director should be diplomatic but decisive and be able to accomplish goals through motivation and delegation. The Director should not only possess strong personal communication skills, but should also be able to create an environment that is conducive to open and direct communication. The successful candidate should have familiarity with technology that is appropriate in a horticultural environment.

The Director should also be a model of integrity and fairness. It is important that he/she has and communicates a genuine passion for Sherman Library and Gardens.


The Director should have experience that demonstrates innovative leadership and the management of a public garden or similar operating organization. Although the successful candidate will most likely have solid leadership experience in the management of a public garden/horticultural organization, it is possible that the individual might come from another career background in the nonprofit, for-profit or public sector and have an interest in, if not passion for, horticulture. Successful experience in general management, fund development, financial and people management, marketing, program development, and volunteer/board relations is also critical.


An undergraduate degree is required; strong preference will be given to candidates with an advanced degree, ideally in horticulture or a related field.


Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience will be provided.


Please direct inquiries, nominations, and applications, including resume and a letter of interest in confidence to:

Jay V. Berger
Morris & Berger
500 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 2150 Glendale, CA 91203
Telephone 818-507-1234 – Fax 818-507-4770

Electronic submission is encouraged