New York Botanical Garden names new CEO, president

The New York Botanical Garden has announced that not-for-profit executive Jennifer Bernstein will become its chief executive officer and The William C. Steere Sr. president, effective Sept. 1, 2021.

Bernstein is a proven leader with exceptional management experience in fundraising and board development for cultural, educational and environmental organizations. She joins the Botanical Garden from NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) where she served as chief development officer and interim chief operations officer.

                   Jennifer Bernstein

“I’m honored to join The New York Botanical Garden, a world-renowned institution fueled by the spirit of New York City in its advocacy for the plant world,” Bernstein said. “I am committed to the Garden’s mission to protect the planet’s biodiversity and natural resources, and I am humbled by the opportunity to partner with its esteemed Board of Trustees and to lead its talented, dedicated staff in this critical work.”

Bernstein’s leadership will drive fiscal, reputational and programmatic growth, and help to usher in a new era at the institution. She brings two decades of non-profit management and fundraising experience, most recently at NRDC, a leading international not-for-profit that works to safeguard the Earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. There, Bernstein designed and executed an ongoing $1 billion fundraising campaign while overseeing a team of nearly 100 professionals. Previously, she led record fundraising efforts at Pace University and managed individual and corporate giving at the Playwrights Horizons theater in Manhattan. She also served in various capacities at Roundabout Theatre Company, New York University and CCS Fundraising.

“I am highly confident that Jennifer Bernstein will lead us forward into an exciting and impactful future, building upon the extraordinarily solid foundation we have at NYBG [New York Botanical Garden],” said J. Barclay Collins II, chair of The New York Botanical Garden’s Board of Trustees. “She brings enormous energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to her role. Her exceptional professional experience in arts and culture, education, and environmental protection presents a unique and valuable confluence of expertise for our institution. Our Board is excited to work with her to frame how this next generation will advance in innovative ways the Garden’s mission in science, education, and horticulture, and in community engagement.”

Bernstein’s appointment as the 10th leader of the 130-year-old institution followed an extensive, nine-month international search that included a diverse and wide range of prospects.

To ensure a smooth transition between administrations, Bernstein will be working closely with J.V. Cossaboom, NYBG’s interim CEO and president. “I think I can speak for the staff in saying we are looking forward to working with an energetic and focused leader like Jennifer,” Cossaboom said.

Bernstein received her undergraduate degree from the College of Santa Fe and her master’s degree from the New York University Stern School of Business.

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