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Botanical Garden names new CEO


The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden board of directors has named Kim Perez as the Botanical Garden’s new CEO.

Chair Stacey Johnson said in a news release announcing Perez’s selection today that Perez “has what it takes to drive a bold vision in the future.”

“We selected a proven individual who possesses a partnership mindset and authentic leadership style. Specifically, Kim understands the critical nature of engaging all generations and cultures in experiencing the Botanical Garden,” Johnson said. “She also brings the perfect experience, expertise, and skill sets to transform the Botanical Garden into a community-facing and growing organization.”

According to the release, Perez previously served as president and CEO of the Cradle, an Illinois-based adoption agency. In that role, she built the organization’s capacity for services to strengthen families. She also served as executive director of People’s Resource Center, a nonprofit that helps low-income families. Perez also served in leadership roles for Lifelink, a social services agency, where she was vice president of child and family services.

The Botanical Garden board of directors conducted a nationwide search for a new CEO following the resignation of Stephanie Jutila last fall. Jutila, served as CEO for nearly nine years, helping the Botanical Garden transition from a city-run facility to a stand-alone nonprofit organization. Mary Sellers was named interim CEO.

Perez, who is a Bettendorf native and has family living in Central Iowa, will begin her new position on April 26.

“Returning to Iowa to lead one of the state’s most renowned cultural institutions is a great privilege,” Perez said. “The Botanical Garden plays an essential role in bringing diverse communities together through its enduring guest experiences and innovative educational opportunities. I can’t wait to meet the staff, volunteers, donors, members and others in the weeks ahead.”

Ed Kenny, who chaired the national search for a new CEO, said the Botanical Garden board is “extremely pleased” that Perez will be leading the organization.

“Kim’s skills as a trusted and respected leader in the not-for-profit arena are well recognized,” Kenny said in the release. “Her focus on professional development, donor and community relations as well as her proven abilities to expand the Botanical Garden’s influence align with our strategic plan.”

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