Morton Arboretum conducted an international search to select a successor to retiring CEO and President Gerard Donnelly, and landed on a familiar face, close to home.
On Tuesday, the arboretum announced Jill Koski as only the fourth leader in the institution’s 100-year history, and the first woman tapped for the top job. Koski will take over the helm — a position Donnelly has held since 1990 — on Nov. 28.
Though Koski has lately served as CEO and president of Holden Forests & Gardens (a combined entity that encompasses Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden), she previously spent 10 years as vice president of development of Morton Arboretum, and a decade prior to that in fundraising at Shedd Aquarium.
“I am honored to lead the institution into its second century and to advance its strategy as a tree champion to create a greener, healthier and more beautiful world,” Koski said in a statement.
Under the leadership of Donnelly, who holds a doctorate in botany and forest ecology, Morton Arboretum greatly expanded its scientific and conservation programs. He helped establish the Chicago Region Trees Initiative as well as the Center for Tree Science.
During her tenure at the arboretum, Koski played an instrumental role in raising the funds to support those efforts.
In a statement, Donnelly praised the choice of Koski.
“Jill is a tree advocate who strongly values the scientific work of The Morton Arboretum,” Donnelly said. “She believes in the power of nonprofit organizations to change the world and continues to dedicate her career to such causes.”