Thesis Summary: Succession Planning in Public Gardens


In order to ensure the security and longevity of an organization, it is necessary to identify  future challenges and plan for them long before they unfold. One of the most daunting issues can be how to embrace change in leadership and construct strategies to fortify an organization’s internal resilience. In her thesis research, Succession Planning: A Dialogue For Leadership Continuity, Grace Parker goes where few graduate students have dared to venture before: the world of public garden succession planning! Because sometimes, “This is what to do if I get hit by a bus” just doesn’t cut it.

Succession planning can have a reputation as nothing more than a way to replace current leadership. However, Grace found many public garden executive directors eager to take a more long term view of succession planning, and to think of it as a means for their organizations to thrive beyond their own personal tenures.

Between a nation-wide survey, dozens of interviews, a focus group, and case studies throughout the country, this research uncovers everything from the most commonly perceived challenges in succession planning to complete narratives and documentation of existing public garden succession plans.

Based on her findings, Grace hopes to present succession planning as a viable organizational development strategy, focused on elevating leadership throughout all staff levels so that any public garden may rise to the occasion in the event of inevitable change.

Want to learn more? Contact her at, or join all the Fellows as they present their theses on May 26 at 10:00 AM at the University of Delaware. RSVP at our Eventbrite link!

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