Keep Growing 2020: The Ten-Year Strategic Plan
spring blooms at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Robert F. Finke

Robert F. Finke
Chairman of the Board

Our extraordinary Garden has enjoyed a wonderful year in every respect.

Our gardens continue to be recognized as among the best in the world.

The graduate program in plant biology and conservation is unique to a public garden by virtue of our association with
Northwestern University.

The Regenstein Learning Campus, opened in 2016, provides a new home for learning for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

Construction proceeds on the Kris Jarantoski Campus, which, when completed, will provide new nurseries, greenhouses, and a wonderful new display garden on the south side of the Garden. These new facilities will enable the Garden to greatly expand its horticultural displays and grow plants in environments the Garden has been unable to provide until now. And the new display garden will provide a wonderful  location for visitors to enjoy the serenity of the Garden. 

Windy City Harvest continues to grow throughout Chicago and soon will open the Farm on Ogden, an exciting cooperative venture with the Lawndale Christian Health Center. The community food hub will provide new and varied training and education programs in urban agriculture and related subjects that will open economic opportunities to those most in need. The Farm on Ogden will be the focal point for Windy City Harvest and become the Garden’s urban home.

We have successfully secured $100 million of our “Keep Growing” campaign goal of $125 million and are working diligently to reach and exceed our goal. The Garden continues to be fiscally sound and able to both address the need to grow and provide new experiences while attending to aging infrastructure needs. This is a direct result of your generous financial support and that of our partner, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, which remains the Garden’s principal source of annual revenue. Every dollar the Garden receives from individuals, corporations, foundations, and state, county, and federal agencies is spent in ways that will produce the most benefit for the most people at the least expense. The Garden is a good investment. 

This year saw Jean M. Franczyk successfully complete her first year as our president and CEO and the retirement of Kris Jarantoski, whose 40 years of extraordinary service produced 27 beautiful and richly diverse display gardens and four natural areas. The legacy of beauty and joy Kris leaves to all who visit the Garden is unmatched. The Garden was fortunate to secure Fred Spicer to assume the role of executive vice president and director. Fred comes to the Garden after years of distinguished service as CEO and director of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Alabama. During this time of transition, the Garden, thanks to the professionalism and dedication of its staff, has not missed a beat and, indeed, has stepped up its game.

Our Garden is special not only because of our staff but also because of our volunteers, members, President’s Circle members, and boards—the Board of Directors, the Woman’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society, and the Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden. They all contribute time, talent, and resources every day to make our Garden better in every way.

On behalf of the entire Garden family and all those who visit or avail themselves of the many educational and other opportunities the Garden provides, I want to state how thankful we all are to everyone who helps to make our Garden like no other garden anywhere: a uniquely welcoming, open, and peaceful environment that helps us meet the challenges we all face every day.

With gratitude and warm wishes,

Robert F. Finke   
Chairman of the Board