Administration & Partners

Mary Pat Matheson

Career Highlights

  • Serves as President and CEO of the Atlanta Botanical Garden since 2002, including a satellite garden in Gainesville, Georgia, added in 2015.
  • Revered for her leadership in the meteoric growth of the Garden’s annual attendance and membership.
  • Responsible for raising the Garden’s national profile to what the industry considers one of the top 10 public gardens in the United States.
  • Dedicated to diversifying audiences, staff and volunteers, ensuring inclusivity and access.
  • Successfully led two $50 million-plus capital campaigns to expand the attraction with new gardens and facilities.
  • Known for innovative strategies for attracting new audiences and encouraging repeat visits by guests by offering cutting-edge programs, including exhibitions by some of the world’s leading artists, popular outdoor concerts and a high-tech holiday light show.
  • Led efforts to develop the foremost collection of species orchids in North America, on permanent display in the Fuqua Orchid Center.
  • Spearheaded the development of the Southeastern Center for Conservation, a venue for collaboration with partner institutions for executing their work throughout the region.

Since 2002, Matheson has directed all operations for the 30-acre public garden, and under her leadership, the nonprofit organization has actively expanded fund-raising, education, marketing, business administration, horticulture and conservation efforts with a rapidly growing membership base of more than 42,000. Additionally, she is responsible for the development of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville, a 185-acre public garden in Gainesville, Georgia.

She also was the driving force behind two $50 million-plus capital campaigns that enabled the Garden to expand, doubling its size to 30 acres with new gardens and facilities.

The meteoric growth in Garden attendance over 19 years has enabled it to reach larger and broader audiences for its mission in educating the public about its plant and animal conservation efforts.

Matheson is a past president of the American Public Gardens Association, serves as board chair for Midtown Alliance and is on the board of the Food Well Alliance. She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta and a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta.

Before joining the Garden, Matheson was Executive Director of the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum in Salt Lake City. Originally a horticulturist, she earned a B.S. in Resource Management & Park Planning and an Executive Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah.