Meet the Leadership Team | DBG.org

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Ken Schutz profile picture - Leadership at the Desert Botanicals Garden

Kenneth J. Schutz

The Dr. William Huizingh Executive Director

Ken Schutz has held executive leadership positions at cultural institutions for more than 35 years, and he has been at the helm of the Desert Botanical Garden since 2001. During his tenure there, he has managed the construction of $35 million in new exhibits and facilities, doubled local attendance, initiated dynamic new education and research projects and raised more than $15 million in gifts and pledges for the Garden’s endowment.

When Ken first interviewed to be the Garden’s Executive Director in 2001, the search committee described his ultimate task as making sure the Garden no longer remained Phoenix’s “best-kept secret.” He and the Garden’s leadership team have met that challenge head-on, and Ken describes his greatest professional satisfaction as the regional and national prominence the Garden has achieved for its excellence in desert plant conservation and exhibition.

On a national level, Ken was appointed to the board of the Institute for Museum and Library Services by President Obama in 2016, and will complete his 5-year term in 2021. He served as an accreditation commissioner for the American Alliance of Museums from 2015 to 2019, and as President of the American Public Gardens Association from 2013 to 2015. Ken was selected as a Piper Fellow by the Virginia G. Piper Trust in 2003. Prior to moving to Phoenix, Ken held the position of Executive Director of the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and before that he was Director of Marketing and development for the Baltimore Zoo. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, an M.S. degree from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. from Bucknell University.

The Dr. William Huizingh Executive Director

Margie Burke Headshot

Margie Burke

Chief Financial Officer

Margie Burke joined the Garden as Chief Financial Officer in March 2019 with over 30 years of financial management experience in both the public and private sectors. Burke’s most recent position as CFO at Hospice of the Valley makes her uniquely qualified to join the Garden’s leadership team. She is responsible for the strategic leadership and operations of the Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology teams.

Burke is an active member of Soroptimist International of Phoenix and an officer on the Golden West Region Board. She is also involved with Hushabye Nursery, a local not for profit and is currently serving as Treasurer. Burke is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Arizona State Society of CPAs and Financial Executives International. Burke received her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from Northern Illinois University.

 

Chief Financial Officer

Elaine McGinn profile picture - Leadership at the Desert Botanicals Garden

Elaine McGinn

Senior Director of Visitor Experience & Community Engagement

Elaine McGinn joined the Garden in 1997. In partnership with the executive director and senior staff, she provides leadership in Garden planning and visitor engagement strategies. She leads Garden teams who are responsible for visitor experiences, including exhibits, events, education, and marketing to identify long-range visitor experience goals and develop planning strategies for expanding audience development and engagement. She has extensive experience in exhibit development and design, master planning, and interpretation. During her tenure with Desert Botanical Garden, she has led major exhibit initiatives including new permanent displays, interpretive planning, seasonal butterfly exhibits and annual art exhibitions. Elaine holds a bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College and completed an executive leadership program at the University of Michigan. Elaine received a Virginia G. Piper Fellowship in 2009 to study garden design and the exploration of place-making.

Senior Director of Visitor Experience & Community Engagement

Kimberlie McCue profile picture - Research and Conservation staff at the Desert Botanicals Garden

Dr. Kimberlie McCue

Senior Director of Desert Horticulture & Conservation

Dr. Kimberlie McCue joined the Garden in 2009 as Program Director, Conservation of Threatened Species and Habitats. In 2017, she was promoted to Director, Research, Conservation and Collections and in 2019 to her current position. Her overarching goal at the Garden is to provide leadership in development, coordination, and management of a high quality integrated program of research, conservation, collections, and horticulture in desert plants and habitats, with the goal of positioning the Garden as a leader, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Kimberlie holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri Western State College and a Ph.D. in biological science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 2013, Kimberlie received a Virginia G. Piper Fellowship to explore conservation marketing, messaging and promotion.

Senior Director of Desert Horticulture & Conservation

Wildflowers at Desert Botanical Garden

Halee Williamson

Senior Director of Facilities & Operations

Since 2016, Halee has led the facilities and operations team in developing an emergency management plan and asset replacement process. Halee has also held roles in membership and development at the Garden, and her responsibilities included growing the membership base. She has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofits. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Arizona State University.

Senior Director of Facilities & Operations

headshot of Dana Terrazas

Kevina Devereaux

Director of Social Responsibility & Inclusion

Kevina Devereaux joined the Garden in 2019 in the Human Resources department as the Manager of Workforce Development & Diversity. In 2021, she was promoted to Director of Social Responsibility & Inclusion. She oversees the Garden’s inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (I.D.E.A.) strategy, coordinates organizational efforts to reach I.D.E.A. goals, and strengthens community relationships to cultivate a fully inclusive organization representing the community. She also manages the Garden’s partnership at Spaces of Opportunity, a 10-acre incubator farm, family gardens, and on-site farmers market in South Phoenix that helps families have affordable access to healthy food and active living.

She received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Dillard University.

Director of Social Responsibility & Inclusion

Marcia Flynn headshot at the DBG

Marcia Flynn

Director of Event Services

Marcia Flynn joined the Garden in 2000 and has over 25 years of event management experience. As Director of Event Services, she is responsible for the management and strategic leadership of overall operations and budget of the department, which includes special and seasonal events, concerts, weddings and facility rentals, fundraisers, group tours, plus the food and beverage program and retail operations, including Gertrude’s Restaurant and the Garden Shop.

Her leadership has led to the incredible growth of the Events department, crowned by the annual Dinner on the Desert event and the beloved Las Noches de las Luminarias celebration each holiday season.

Marcia and her team have developed and established compelling events and programs designed to generate revenue, engage new and diverse audiences, while reflecting and meeting the mission and values of the Garden. Additionally, she has cultivated invaluable partnerships with local non-profits, performing arts groups and vendors, with whom they have contributed to building the Garden’s success. She and her team creatively exceed every client’s and guest’s expectations.

She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and International Business.

Director of Event Services 

Safina Ghazi Headshot

Safina Ghazi

Director of Human Resources

Safina Ghazi recently joined Desert Botanical Garden as Director of Human Resources. Safina has 14 years of experience in human resources from various industries including international medical insurance, manufacturing and retail. She specializes in immigration, employment branding, payroll, compliance, employee development, benefits and training.

Ghazi holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois – Chicago. She is a founding member of Let’s Learn Together that supports the education and assimilation of refugee children into the United States.

Director of Human Resources

DBG_Class Intro

James Gentile

Director of Information Technology

James Gentile joined the Garden in 2018 and provides strategic leadership for the continued development of an innovative, robust, and secure information technology environment. James is responsible for developing and maintaining the vision, integrity, stability and functionality of core technology infrastructure and business systems. James provides significant executive leadership as a member of the Garden’s Senior Staff as well as acting as a key technical liaison with the Board. Prior to joining, James spent over 20 years in informational technology roles in both the private and public sectors. He holds an M.S. from the University of Phoenix and a B.S. from DeVry University, both in Computer Information Systems. James also holds a Project Management Certificate from the University of Phoenix and has the following active certifications from ISACA: Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), and Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE).

Director of Information Technology

Cholla Bloom

Marie Long

Director of Education

Marie Long joined the Garden as Director of Education in 2019. She has 20 years of experience in education, interpretation and audience engagement at three nonprofit museums: The Living Desert, Palm Springs Desert Museum and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. She has extensive experience in environmental education, interpretation, community engagement and teaching desert ecology. Marie has provided international expertise and advised on best practices regarding visitor services, interpretation, and management plans for the United Arab Emirates Desert National Park, Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, Jordan and Siberian Association for Interpretation in Russia. Marie holds a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of South Carolina, an applied science degree in horticulture from North Carolina State University and is a Certified Interpretive Guide and Host from the National Association for Interpretation.

Director of Education

headshot of Dana Terrazas

Dana Terrazas

Director of Marketing Communications

Dana Terrazas joined the Garden in 2016 with 22 years of experience in media relations, advertising, marketing, promotions, special events and community outreach. Prior to the Garden, Dana worked at ASU Gammage, Heard Museum and Child Crisis Arizona. She is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and won numerous Copper Anvil awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Copper Quill awards from the International Association of Business Communications (IABC). Dana is currently a board member of Tempe Tourism.

Director of Marketing Communications

Agave texture at Desert Botanical Garden

Lauren Warren

Director of Exhibits

Lauren Warren joined the Garden in 2010 and became Director of Exhibits in 2019. She manages exhibit development and implementation in partnership with Garden leadership, as well as oversees the seasonal butterfly exhibit. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Art History and Arts Management from the University of Arizona and a graduate degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University.

Director of Exhibits

headshot of Tina Wilson

Tina Wilson

Director of Horticulture

Tina Wilson came to the Garden in 2005. She previously served as Director of Education, where she guided the education department in the development and management of innovative programming to promote environmental literacy. Prior to her arrival she taught at Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and served as the Horticulture Extension agent for Woodford County in Kentucky. She has more than 18 years of science education experience and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a master’s degree in plant science.

Director of Horticulture

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