Jill Koski has been named the new President and CEO of Holden Forests & Gardens, which includes the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio and the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Cleveland’s University Circle cultural district. Koski replaces Clem Hamilton, who was the President and CEO for nine years before resigning this past February. Koski will join the organization in late November.
Koski comes to Holden Forests & Gardens from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, where she was the Vice President of Development for 10 years. Before Morton, she spent 10 years with Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, in a series of progressively responsible development positions.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to help the organization continue its important work of making a positive impact in Northeast Ohio and the Great Lakes region,” said Koski.
Board Chair Bradley E. Turner led the national search that resulted in the hiring of Koski. “We are thrilled to bring in someone of Jill’s experience and talent to take our organization to the next level,” said Turner. Holden Forests & Gardens was formed when the Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden integrated operations in 2014.
Koski assumes the role of president and CEO during a period of growth for the organization, with the Arboretum and Botanical Garden experiencing all-time highs in combined annual attendance (nearly 400,000) and membership (more than 21,000 households). The organization is also having a greater impact in the community, as evidenced by its integral role in the development and implementation of the Cleveland Tree Plan, the collaborative effort to increase the tree canopy coverage in Cleveland. The organization has also started the development of a workforce training program for green industry jobs, made possible by a grant from the Cleveland Foundation.
“The organization’s focus on the community was what attracted me most to the position,” said Koski. “Public gardens and arboreta are more important than ever to help connect people to the world around them and positively impact the economy, health and wellness, and of course the environment.”
Koski becomes Holden’s sixth leader. Its first, R. Henry Norweb, led the organization from 1958 to 1983. “It is truly an honor to lead an organization with such a rich history and excellent national reputation,” said Koski. Holden Forests & Gardens is the 12th largest public garden in the United States.
Koski received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is married with two children.