Credit: Atlanta Botanical Gardens
BY ELLIE HENSLEY
Atlanta Botanical Garden president and CEO Mary Pat Matheson has been named the next board chair of the Midtown Alliance, a coalition of business and civic leaders that has a 40-year track record of improving Atlanta’s city center.
Under Matheson’s leadership since 2002, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has raised its profile to become one of the top public gardens in the U.S., on the strength of innovative programing, education, business administration, horticulture and conservation efforts with a rapidly growing membership base of more than 42,000 patrons.
The two $50 million-plus capital campaigns Matheson has guided have yielded expanded facilities and new initiatives. Her experience has burnished the Garden's reputation nationally for creating strategies that attract visitors by offering cutting-edge programs, including exhibitions featuring some of the world’s leading artists, popular outdoor concerts and a high-tech holiday light show that continues to set records for attendance.
These successes have also brought many wins to Midtown’s urban experience in recent years that extend beyond the 30-acre Garden and into the district’s commercial core. Matheson and her team have lent their expertise to Midtown Alliance’s annual holiday lighting program that illuminates Peachtree Street. Garden staff have also partnered with Midtown Alliance to deliver temporary public art installations including the mosaiculture frog (dubbed “Sam Phibian” by the Atlanta community) at 10th and West Peachtree Streets and the “Conversation Peace” sculpture at 10th and Peachtree Streets from artist Kevin Box’s upcoming “Origami in the Garden” exhibition, which will debut at the Garden in spring 2022.
“Mary Pat is one of the most creative and gifted non-profit leaders in the country,” said Kevin Green, Midtown Alliance President & CEO. “She has also been a valued member of our leadership for more than two decades. With our continued emphasis on ‘cranking-up the wow’ in Midtown with unique art, activations and experiences, we can think of no one better than Mary Pat to take the helm as we all work to bring Midtown back to full strength.”
From land use and transportation to the arts and economic development, Midtown Atlanta’s dynamic transformation continues to positively impact our city. Today, nearly 20 major development projects are under construction in the 1.2 square mile district, and more than 50 projects have come online in the past decade, delivering millions of square feet of office, residential, retail and institutional space. And Midtown Alliance is currently working on more than $40M of physical improvements to the public right of way, in partnership with the Midtown Improvement District and the City of Atlanta. This momentum has helped attract nearly 30,000 new jobs to the district in recent years, along with tens of thousands of new residents and millions of visitors. The 1.2 square mile core of Midtown Atlanta yields $19 billion of annual economic impact to the City of Atlanta.
“It is an honor to chair the Midtown Alliance, especially following in the footsteps of visionary leaders like Mark Toro and others before him,” Matheson said. “This is such a remarkable time for Midtown as we embark on major initiatives to engage people through creativity, the arts and innovation. It’s truly a dream to work with Kevin Green and his talented staff as we commit to a robust and welcoming community for all to enjoy. Midtown Alliance is a national model for community engagement and innovation, as well as thoughtful transformation through partnerships.”
Matheson is a past president of the American Public Gardens Association and has served on its international steering committee focused on strategies for plant conservation in botanical gardens. She also has been a member of the board of the American Horticultural Society. Locally, Matheson serves on the board of the Food Well Alliance in addition to her 20 years of service on the Midtown Alliance board. She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta and a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta.
Matheson will deliver remarks at the 2022 Midtown Alliance Annual Meeting, to be held March 21 at the Fox Theatre. For more information on this event, visit MidtownATL.com/2022AnnualMeeting.