Loading Events

40th Anniversary Speaker Series

This year marks four decades of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, and we’re celebrating for the whole year with favorite events as well as exciting new ones. Through our 40th Anniversary theme, “Flourish”, our goal is tohonor the work that has come before, celebrate where we are now, and look forward to the transformational changes kicking off in 2024.Our anniversary programming includes a special Speaker Series highlighting the Garden’s past, present, and future.  

Join three visionary leaders as they come together on April 19 to discuss the evolution of the Garden from its very earliest days to the recent past. Guest speakers include former Garden leaders: Frank Robinson, former Executive Director (1992-2011) and President & CEO (2011-2015); Holly Shimizu, Managing Director (1996-2000); and Grace Elton, Director of Horticulture (2011-2017). Highlights include how they helped shape the Garden and how the Garden shaped them, their fondest memories, biggest challenges, and hopes for the future of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This discussion will be moderated by the Garden’s current President & CEO, Brian Trader. Following the discussion, guests are invited to mix-and-mingle with our speakers and explore the Garden’s spring blooms.   

–5:30-6:30 pm: Panel discussion in the Auditorium 

–6:30-7:30 pm: Cash bar; Central Garden open to explore the spring blooms 

Fees: Member $0, Non-Member $20

All programs are subject to change. Pre-registration through our website is required.

Register Member $0

Register Non-Member $20

Friday, April 19, 2024
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Details

About the Speakers

Frank RobinsonFrank RobinsonPresident and CEO (2011-2015); Executive Director (1992-2011)

Under Frank’s leadership, the Botanical Garden grew over two decades to become one of the major horticultural and botanical facilities in the U.S. In that time, the Garden raised $44 million to fund the development of 50+ acres of gardens, major plant collections, public facilities and community programs. In October 2011, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden received the prestigious National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Washington, D.C.) for its positive impact on the Richmond region. It is only one of three botanical gardens to receive this recognition in the United States.  

Frank has degrees in Horticulture, Japanese Language and Psychology. He attended Earlham College (Richmond, IN) and Haywood Technical Institute (Clyde, NC). He studied for a year at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. Prior to his tenure at Lewis Ginter, Frank served as Executive Director of the American Horticultural Society (Alexandria, VA); Estate Manager of Albemarle Farms (Charlottesville, VA); and manager of grounds and horticulture at Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY). Preceding his work in horticulture, Frank’s early career was focused on education and therapy services to autistic and multiply-handicapped children.  

Retired since 2015, Frank currently serves as board chair of the Robins Foundation (Richmond, VA) and on the landscape advisory committee at the Virginia War Memorial Foundation. Past board service has included Capital Trees, Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Arts Council of Richmond. He participated in the design of the Healing Garden at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center, the garden at the VCU School of Nursing. Frank also served on the Landscape Peer Review Committee for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  

Frank was greatly honored to receive the Garden Club of America’s Zone Horticulture Commendation in 2015. Also, he was an inaugural recipient of the Stettinius Award for Nonprofit Leadership through the Community Foundation in 2005.   

He greatly enjoys travel. Franks has led horticultural tours throughout the U.S., Western Europe, Argentina, and Japan. In addition to gardening and travel, his interests include music, photography, art, architecture and urban design. 

Holly ShimizuHolly Shimizu– Managing Director (1996-2000)   

Holly H. Shimizu is a nationally recognized horticulturist with a rich background in gardens, plants, ecological gardening, and plant conservation.  After working in numerous gardens in England, Germany, Holland, and Belgium, Holly was the first Curator of the National Herb Garden at the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC.  She worked as Managing Director of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden from 1996 through 2000. Most recently, Holly was the Executive Director of the US Botanic Garden, on the National Mall, where she was responsible for all aspects of running the Garden which experienced a renaissance during her leadership.  

She has degrees in horticulture from Temple University, Ambler Campus, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Maryland, where she conducted research in the area of plant roots.  In 2009, Holly received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland.  Throughout her career, Holly has received many awards including the prestigious Scott Medal and Award from Swarthmore College, Thomas Roland Medal for outstanding contributions to horticultural education from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, as well as the Professional Award for Outstanding Public Garden Director from the American Horticultural Society.  She has written for numerous publications, books, and has been an international flower show judge.  Holly is an Honorary Member of the Garden Club of America and has served with a range of organizations including Longwood Gardens, American Public Garden Association, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, and many more — she is dedicated to heightening an awareness and love of plants and environmental gardening through her work.  

Currently, Holly is on the Board of The American Horticultural Society and the American Botanical Council Advisory Board. Currently she is lecturing, writing, teaching, and leading horticultural trips internationally. She recently completed writing and illustrating her first children’s book, Figgy and Fiona Search for a Home. Her husband Osamu is a Garden Designer that she met while working in Europe. He designed and installed Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Asian Valley Garden in 1995. They live in Glen Echo, Maryland with their naughty dog where they enjoy their sanctuary garden near the Potomac River. In addition, they are creating a series of gardens around their 1730 house in Lewes, Delaware.

Grace EltonGrace Elton– Director of Horticulture (Oct 2011-March 2017)  

Grace Elton is CEO of New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill (NEBG), a 200-acre garden in Boylston, MA. Since 2017, she has increased NEBG’s annual budget by 59%, annual visitation by 55%, and membership by 27%. She led the largest comprehensive capital campaign in the Garden’s history, raising over $31M to build a children’s Garden, increasing infrastructure and ADA accessibility, increasing the Garden’s physical footprint by over 60 acres, and growing the endowment.  

While serving as director of horticulture, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, it garnered national recognition as a top 10 botanical garden by USA Today and achieved the National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.   

Grace also served as horticulture supervisor and adjunct professor at the 118-acre Ambler Arboretum of Temple University in Ambler, Pennsylvania. As a recipient of the prestigious Martin McLaren Horticulture Scholar award presented by the Garden Club of America, Grace studied botanic garden education, practical horticulture and landscape design in England at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Royal Horticulture Society Rosemoor, the Eden Project, and the Chelsea Physic Garden; and in Scotland at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.  

Grace has a Master of Science in public horticulture with a certificate in museum studies from the Longwood Graduate Program, University of Delaware. Her Bachelor of Science degree is in environmental horticulture with a public gardens management specialization from University of Florida.  

Grace serves as Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) and Director at Large for Discover Central Massachusetts. She was honored as a “Top 40 Under 40” for Richmond, VA’s Style Weekly Magazine in 2013 and “Top 40 Under 40” for Worcester, MA’s Worcester Business Journal in 2018. Grace was also chosen for the 2019 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the University of Delaware. She was also honored by the Worcester Business Journal on their “Power 50” list in both 2019 and 2023.