NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Michael Desplaines is stepping down from his role as president and CEO after a nine-year tenure.
Desplaines will leave in late June to take over as CEO of the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, California.
The garden touted many of Desplaines’ achievements in the announcement of his departure, including his work to double the non-profit’s operating budget and increasing visitation by 500,000 visitors annually.
He’s also helped lead the garden’s “The Garden of Tomorrow” campaign, which has raised over $38 million ($33 million in private donations and $5 million from The City of Norfolk) to help expand the facility.
Garden officials also praised his commitment to equity and inclusion. It was “demonstrated early in his tenure when he elevated the Garden’s diversity committee to a Presidential Council on Inclusion and Diversity and under his leadership the NBG Board of Directors is now the most diverse in its history with over 33% of the Board now from traditionally underrepresented communities.”
“It has been incredible to see how the Garden has transformed on every level over these past nine years under Michael’s strategic and inspiring leadership,” said NBG Board of Directors Chair Clenise Platt. “Michael and the NBG staff have done a tremendous job as the organization’s vision and goals have grown and evolved over the years. This is such an exciting time in the Garden’s history and although we hate to lose Michael as CEO, the Board is immensely proud of what we have accomplished together and wish him all the best in his new life and career adventure.”
Platt says Peter Schmidt, who’s been with the botanical garden since 2019, will serve as interim chief officer starting on July 1, as the organization’s board works to fill the role.
They say Schmidt worked alongside Deplaines in many roles, including the development of The Garden of Tomorrow project.