Rebecca Anderson named Executive Director at Ganna Walska Lotusland

Rebecca Anderson named Executive Director at Ganna Walska Lotusland
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Source: Ganna Walska Lotusland

The Board of Trustees of Ganna Walska Lotusland has announced Rebecca Anderson as the botanic garden’s next Executive Director.

“Rebecca is sincerely committed to our mission to foster our knowledge and appreciation of the garden and its plant collections while inspiring and educating visitors about the needs for conservation and environmental stewardship,” said board chair Lesley Cunningham. “Even in the midst of a pandemic, she has navigated the organization with a calm clarity and a keen eye toward safely opening the garden and providing meaningful experiences for members and guests. I am confident Rebecca will bring our organization into an exciting new chapter.”

Ms. Anderson becomes Lotusland’s fourth Executive Director in the thirty-six year history since the founding of this world-renowned botanic garden.

The Lotusland Trustees asked Dorothy Gardner to chair the CEO search.  Ms. Gardner formed a committee of six and together they interviewed three finalist consulting/search firms before deciding on hiring Koya Leadership Partners to assist. Koya Leadership Partners is an executive search firm that specializes in leading searches for mission-driven clients. Koya collected interest from more than sixty candidates for the Lotusland Executive Director position. 

Ms. Gardner reported "It didn't take us long to discover and confirm that Rebecca Anderson was head and shoulders above most, if not all, of those presenting. We moved forward with this choice and our decision as a committee was unanimous in making our recommendation to the Executive Committee and the full Board to hire Rebecca Anderson. We are thrilled and extremely confident that she will be an outstanding Executive Director."

Ms. Anderson will lead Lotusland, celebrated as one of the world’s best botanic gardens, with an eye to preserving and growing its extraordinary plant collections, advancing its global conservation work, and acting as a steward of historic local architecture and a source of inspiration for its beauty and whimsical and bold landscape design. She is responsible for leading a team of 30 staff and more than 200 volunteers dedicated to the successful operations of the gardens. Ms. Anderson says, “I am honored to have the opportunity to work with a committed board and an outstanding staff to strengthen the garden’s mission — to educate and inspire members and guests and collectively ensure an abundant, healthy and sustainable future.”

Ms. Anderson served as the interim Executive Director for Lotusland since December 2019 after four years as its Director of Development. She has 20 years’ experience as an executive leader in local nonprofits. She completed her BA at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned her MA in Organizational Management from Antioch University. Before joining Lotusland, Ms. Anderson served as Director of Advancement of Midland School and as Director of Development for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. She was the Manager of Annual Giving at Cottage Health System and was a member of the initial Emerging Leaders Program sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation in tandem with Leading from Within.

Born in Southern California and raised in Santa Barbara, Ms. Anderson has deep roots in the region. She lives in Santa Barbara with her husband and two daughters.

Ms. Anderson is an active community volunteer, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Leading from Within. She served as president of the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Santa Barbara/Ventura Counties, and is a past Trustee of CALM, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Santa Barbara Middle School. Ms. Anderson has demonstrated success in raising millions of philanthropic gifts for local organizations as a nonprofit fundraiser, and was honored as the 2013 “Fundraiser of the Year” by the regional chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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