Washington Gardener Magazine April 2023

Page 6


President/CEO of the American Hor�icult�ral Societ� By Jessica Harden

Avid reader and Texas native Suzanne Laporte celebrated her one-year anniversary of becoming president and CEO of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) on March 11. Previously, Laporte held marketing positions for the consulting practices of PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM. In the publishing industry, Laporte was an editor at Working Woman magazine and a marketing director at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Tell us about you and your background. Interestingly, my career has had many unexpected turns. When I graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School, I never imagined that I would 6 WASHINGTON GARDENER APRIL 2023

be working in the nonprofit sector or in the gardening field. I am so glad and appreciative that my journey has led me to AHS. I joined AHS about a year ago after I had led another nonprofit for 15 years. I learned years ago, as a nonprofit board member, that working in a mission-driven organization is fulfilling every single day. Even when the work is hard or the days are tough, I feel like I make a difference in people’s lives. Prior to my nonprofit career, I worked in investment banking, management consulting, and publishing, including for a large daily newspaper and a national magazine. For 26 years, I’ve lived in the DC area, which is home for my three grown children. I spent my childhood in Fort Worth, Texas, and then left to go to

Photo courtesy of AHS.

Suzanne Laporte

Smith College in Massachusetts, where I saw mountains for the first time. Can you describe the history of the American Horticultural Society and how it serves its members (and the public) currently? Last year, we celebrated AHS’ 100year anniversary. Originally, AHS was modeled after the Royal Horticultural Society in the United Kingdom (UK). However, the United States is much larger and more geographically diverse than the UK. Over the years, AHS has endeavored to connect people to plants and encourage more people to garden, knowing the many resulting benefits for people and the planet. Our efforts and initiatives have changed over time. Currently, AHS has four main initiatives: a respected bi-monthly gardening magazine, national reciprocal garden admission program, symposium for educators of children and youth, and horticultural awards program. This year, we are also celebrating 50 years at River Farm in Alexandria, VA. In 1973, Enid Haupt gave AHS $1 million to buy the 26-acre property on the Potomac River to be AHS’ headquarters and keep the property open to the public. Our many visitors let us know how much her gift is still appreciated. What is your vision for AHS into the future? In an ideal world, AHS would have regional field offices across the country with horticulturists providing support to local residents and bringing gardeners together. Right now, our goal is to engage more people with AHS and with gardening. To do that, we are planning new programs. We’ll be increasing gardening resources and the ways we deliver them. We are also planning a pilot program to expand our travel program to destinations in North America. We are also looking for ways to serve more diverse communities, as green spaces and access to plants enhance every person’s life. In other words, my vision for AHS is that anyone interested in plants, gardens, and green spaces would look to AHS first for information, activities and resources that can help them enjoy gardening and be more successful. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.