Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Announces New Executive Director
Claremont, Calif., (June 4, 2013)– The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Lucinda McDade the eighth executive director effective June 1, 2013.
McDade is the Judith B. Friend Director of Research at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) and chair of the Claremont Graduate University Department of Botany; positions she has held since 2006. She served as the RSABG interim executive director from November 2012 until May 2013.
“Lucinda McDade is an exceptional leader and extraordinary individual,” said Elin Dowd, chair of the Board of Trustees. “She is a scholar of the first rank and an inspirational executive with a collaborative style. We are ecstatic that she has agreed to lead Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.”
As the Judith B. Friend Director of Research, McDade has led the RSABG Research Department during an unprecedented period marked by a 300 percent increase in external funding; she has also built the postdoctoral program, strengthened graduate education, maintained a flourishing research program and built ties with Claremont Graduate University (CGU). Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden administers the CGU Department of Botany.
“It is a very special honor to be chosen to lead Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, a Garden that has inspired me since I first visited here in the late 1980s. It is an exciting institution, with a strong foundation and exciting prospects,” said McDade. “I am humbled by the appointment and eager to guide an organization renowned for its commitment to research, conservation, education, and social engagement with the remarkable native flora of California in the broader context of global plant diversity.””
With the appointment, McDade becomes the first female executive director since Susanna Bixby Bryant founded the Garden in 1927. Bryant served as the organization's executive director from its formation until 1946.
In the Spring 2013, McDade led Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in the finalization of a multi-year strategic plan that focuses on positioning RSABG as the premier resource on California native plants, advancing botanical research programs, establishing sustainable stewardship practices for the Garden and organization, and building toward implementation of the organization’s 2007 Master Plan.
Under her leadership as interim executive director, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, a privately-funded nonprofit, has seen a period of robust activity, including construction of facilities at Grow Native Nursery in the Veterans Garden, new foundation and corporate support, increased giving capacity to fund a vital irrigation project, reenergized RSABG Volunteer Organization, growth of the Board of Overseers and continued expansion of RSABG membership. Consistent with the strategic priorities of the organization, RSABG has opened several new exhibits including “When They Were Wild, ”a collaborative exhibition with The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens, and “Gateways to the Communities,” a horticultural exhibition at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden that shares the significance of California plant communities with Garden visitors.
“In founding her ‘wild garden’ devoted to California native plants, our founder, Susanna Bixby Bryant, in whose steps I am honored to follow, was a true visionary,” said McDade. “I am inspired by her determination and emboldened to lead our Garden as we strengthen our core and expand our effectiveness in reaching the public with our core message that California native plants merit respect, celebration, and use.”
As well as organization leader, McDade is a professor of botany. Her primary research interests are in the large plant family of Acanthaceae, the role of hybridization in plant evolutionary history, phylogeny reconstruction and plant reproductive biology. She has published many papers in the field and has served as president of Association for Tropical Biology and American Society of Plant Taxonomists. McDade has won numerous research grants from the federal National Science Foundation and from private foundations including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Fletcher Jones Foundation. Read more about McDade's research on her faculty page.
Prior to coming to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, McDade was associate curator and chair of botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and simultaneously served as an adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the course of her career, she has served as associate professor and curator of the herbarium at the University of Arizona and also worked with the Organization for Tropical Studies, an international consortium dedicated to scientific research, education and conservation in the tropics.
She earned her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Tulane University and doctorate in botany from Duke University. McDade is married to Professor John Lundberg, chair and curator of ichthyology at the Academy of Natural Sciences. The couple have two adult sons, Greg Lundberg who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Andy Lundberg who lives in Paris, Tennessee.
McDade succeeds Patrick Larkin, who resigned in November 2012.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, founded in 1927 by Susanna Bixby Bryant, is the largest botanic garden dedicated exclusively to California native plants. The Garden is located on 86 acres in Claremont, approximately 35 miles east of Los Angeles. RSABG, a private, nonprofit organization, brings conservation applications to the public through horticultural education, scientific research and sales of native plants at Grow Native Nursery.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, located at 1500 N. College Ave., Claremont, California, is open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., except Jan. 1, July 4, Thanksgiving and Dec. 25. Free parking; accessible paths throughout the Garden. Admission: free for RSABG members; $8 adults; $6 seniors and students; $4 children 3-12. For more information please call (909) 625-8767 or visit www.rsabg.org.