A sad goodbye to Kelli Cameron
This is the saddest piece of news I've ever received in a news release: "Kelli Cameron has resigned from her position as executive director of Rotary Botanical Gardens."
When she was hired, less than a year ago, many people, including myself, had great hopes for the gardens.
Kelli had the energy, the savvy and the people skills, to make Rotary Botanical Gardens everything that it could be.
She went to work right away, applying for grants, making sure she had the right staff in the right place and connecting with volunteers in a way that no other director had. I've volunteered there for a number of years, and the previous directors were these mysterious people that worked in the main building and didn't seem that interested in digging in the dirt.
Not that the management of Rotary Botanical Gardens is all about digging in the dirt. You've got to raise money, make sure the facility is being used to its best advantage, encourage new visitors, apply for grants and manage a good staff that has long struggled with management that can best be described as "benign."
Mind you, all the past executive directors were good people, and each brought something to the organization, but they weren't the perfect match for the gardens.
Kelli was the kind of manager that wrote thank you notes to staff to let them know how much she appreciated their work. The volunteers liked her and she appreciated them. Since volunteers provide more than 10,000 hours of work for the gardens, it's crucial for a director to make those connections.
This year's holiday light show reached more than 10,000 people--that's a record.
The educational programs at the gardens have reinvigorated and expanded to reach new audiences.
The gift shop was transformed into a wonderful outlet for local artists and a great place to find original gifts.
I'm sure Rotary Garden's Board will argue that they couldn't compete with the salary and benefit package offered by Blackhawk Technical College, wish Kelli good luck and then go back to doing things the way they were done before. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.
Many members of the 23-member board--that's right there are 23 board members--have served on the board since the beginning and tend to be personally invested in the gardens' future.
That's a good thing. Well, it's a good thing unless it leads to the urge to micromanage. Nobody wants to give a beloved child/organization into the hands of another, even if that child/organization has changed over the years. Not that we're saying it's going on here.
The executive director position has already been advertised on the garden's website. The only thing left to do is wish Kelli good luck and hope for the best for the gardens.