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Dr. Gerard T. Donnelly, president and CEO of The Morton Arboretum, is the 2013 recipient of the most prestigious honor conferred by the American Public Gardens Association (APGA).

Morton Arboretum president and CEO receives top honor

Dr. Gerard T. Donnelly, president and CEO of The Morton Arboretum, is the 2013 recipient of the most prestigious honor conferred by the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). The Honorary Life Member Award recognizes his ongoing leadership roles in furthering the mission of the public garden realm, meritorious service to the association, and uncommon devotion to the field of public horticulture. APGA is the premier professional organization for public gardens in North America. 


As President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum, the leading arboretum or tree-focused public garden in the world, Donnelly has led the institution in substantial growth since taking on his position in 1990. He has advanced programs in collections, education, science and conservation at the 1,700-acre site, located 25 miles west of Chicago. He has also led regional, national and international collaborations.


Under Donnelly’s direction, the organization has been accredited both as an arboretum and a museum. He oversaw a major site redevelopment featuring a Children’s Garden, Maze Garden, enhanced Visitor Center, new main entrance, environmentally-friendly parking lot and restoration of Meadow Lake. These improvements increased public awareness of and engaged more people in the Arboretum’s mission to save and plant trees.


Donnelly also has leadership roles in current and future initiatives with the Directors of Large Gardens group, the ArbNet professional network of arboreta, the Global Trees Campaign in partnership with Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the International Association of Botanic Gardens.


Donnelly served as president of APGA in 1997-1999, hosted its annual conference in Chicago in 2005 and received the APGA Service Award in 2008.  


Trained as a botanist and forest ecologist, he earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

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