The Friends of the Botanic Garden Leadership Council amplifies the impact of the botanic garden through service, advocacy, networking and philanthropy, and serves as a thought partner for the botanic garden director.
The Leadership Council's primary areas of focus include:
- Developing a strong, informed team of alums able to advocate on behalf of the botanic garden, both within and beyond the Smith community;
- Creating opportunities for alums to engage with the botanic garden and experience its beauty, engagement of students, collaboration with other campus programs, contributions to plant conservation, and other aspects of its role as a college garden; and
- Growing membership in the Friends of the Botanic Garden and the botanic garden's capacity to raise needed funds.
Susan Komroff Cohen '62
Paula Deitz '59
Lynden Breed Miller '60
Shavaun Towers '71
Roots of the Leadership Council
While the Friends of the Botanic Garden of Smith College Leadership Council officially started July 1, 2022, the roots of the group date back to 1992. That year, two dedicated alums, Paula Deitz ’59 and Susan Cohen ’62, started the botanic gardens membership program, the Friends of the Botanic Garden of Smith College. Their intention was to establish a strong base of financial support for the botanic garden, to keep Smithies involved and informed about the work happening at the botanic garden, and to ensure the botanic garden prospered financially and intellectually.
Along with the Friends of the Botanic Garden, a committee of steadfast alum supporters was established. This group, originally called the Botanic Garden Visiting Committee and later known as the Advisory Committee for the Friends of the Botanic Garden championed important projects for the botanic garden and the college including endowing the botanic garden's KEW Gardens Internship Program through the Muriel Kohn Pokross '34 Travel and Internship Fund and securing funding to establish the college's Landscape Studies program.
Between 2019 and 2022, under the leadership of Sue Ann Schiff ’69 and driven by the garden’s strategic priority of empowering the Advisory Committee to grow the botanic gardens fundraising capacity and energize the Smith College alum community to help meet the needs of the garden’s strategic vision, the Advisory Committee underwent a process to redefine its purpose and vision. It set out with the aim to best meet the current needs of the garden, to establish a more formal operational structure, new leadership structure, and to strengthen the group's integration with Smith’s Alumnae Relations and Development offices. This process culminated in the development of a governing charter which was enacted July 1, 2022, and a new name for the group: The Friends of the Botanic Garden of Smith College Leadership Council.