Mary Pat Matheson, executive director of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, is this week's featured speaker for the Buckhead Business Association meeting on Thursday.
“Mary Pat Matheson has played an integral role in defining the Atlanta Botanical Garden as a cultural landmark in the southeast,” notes Catherine Cattles, 2012 President of the BBA. “We look forward to hosting Ms. Matheson at our upcoming BBA Breakfast as she discusses the current and future plans for the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the potential impact that these initiatives can have on the City.”
As executive director of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Matheson directs all operations for the 30-acre urban garden in Midtown, the heart of Atlanta. The Garden showcases floral displays, plant collections, a children’s garden, annual fine art exhibitions, the Fuqua Conservatory and Orchid Center, and the Canopy Walk, the largest suspension bridge of its kind in the United States.
Under her leadership, the garden is actively expanding fund-raising, education, marketing, business administration, horticulture, and conservation.
Additionally, she is responsible for the development of Smithgall Woodland Garden, a 185-acre public garden in Gainesville, Georgia. She also was the driving force behind a $55 million capital campaign completed in 2012 that enabled the Garden to expand, doubling its size to 30 acres with a new Visitor Center, SAGE Parking Facility, Canopy Walk, and Edible Garden.
In November 2008, the Garden was honored with the Managing for Excellence Award by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and in March 2009 was selected WSB Green Champion. Matheson was named one of 14 Women of Excellence by Business to Business magazine in July 2007 and one of 25 Power Women to Watch by Atlanta Woman magazine in January 2006. In 2005 she was named 2005 Professional of the Year by the American Horticultural Society and the Lexus Leader of the Arts by Public Broadcasting Atlanta. Also in 2005, Matheson accepted on behalf of the Garden a $4 million gift from Turner Broadcasting System, the largest corporate gift in the Garden’s history. Because of her proven leadership and administrative skills, she was asked to participate in two international advisory committees, chairing the Limbe Botanic Garden Conservation Coalition in Cameroon, and acting as delegate for the U.S China Arts Exchange southern Gaoligongshan Sustainability Initiative in China.
Matheson’s visionary outlook is leading the Atlanta Botanical Garden in new directions and delivering big numbers, particularly with outdoor exhibitions of fine art. In 2012, the Garden presented Independent Visions: Sculpture in the Garden, an exhibition of contemporary sculptures by nine internationally acclaimed artists. In 2004 Matheson secured Chihuly in the Garden, a blockbuster exhibition integrating the beautiful glass sculpture of Dale Chihuly within the Garden’s unique plant collections, putting the Atlanta Botanical Garden on the map. The unique exhibition attracted record numbers of visitors from around the country, and, according to the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, yielded $50 to $60 million for the city during its nine-month run. Garden visitation more than doubled to 425,000; garden gift shop sales increased by 400 percent; and garden membership reached an all time high with 19,000 member households. Under Matheson, the Garden started its annual, sell-out, outdoor Concerts in the Garden, wintertime Orchid Daze and Scarecrows in the Garden every fall.
Prior to joining the Atlanta Botanical Garden in July 2002, Matheson was Executive Director of the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum in Salt Lake City.
Originally a horticulturist, Matheson earned a B.S. in Resource Management & Park Planning and an Executive Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah. Matheson is a past president of the American Public Gardens Association (formerly the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta) and has served on its international steering committee focused on the development of a U.S. National Strategy for plant conservation in botanical gardens. She also is a member of the board of the American Horticultural Society.
Locally, she serves on the board of directors for the Midtown Alliance, on the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau Cultural Tourism committee, and the International Woman’s Forum. She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta and is a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta. She served on the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts and Culture Coalition and is a member of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. She resides in Brookhaven with her husband, Bri, and enjoys golf and horseback riding.
Each Thursday morning from 7:30 to 9, the BBA meets for its weekly breakfast at the City Club of Buckhead, located at 3343 Peachtree Road, suite 1850.