of Suzanne Laporte as the Society’s New President/CEO
ALEXANDRIA, VA, USA, March 11, 2022 – Today, the Board of Directors of the American Horticultural Society (AHS), announced the appointment of Suzanne Laporte, the former CEO of Friends of Compass, Inc, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that provides pro bono, strategic consulting to other nonprofits, as the Society’s new CEO/President of AHS. As President & CEO of Compass, Laporte significantly increased Compass’ impact by innovating to meet the changing needs of nonprofits and the individuals and communities they serve. Laporte will focus on managing overall operations of the Society and will work collaboratively with the AHS Board and stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to a forward-thinking organization positioned for growth and long-term success. With expertise in nonprofit leadership, program innovation, capacity building, strategic planning, financial management, team building and community engagement, communications, marketing, and Board governance, she is well-equipped to lead AHS at this critical juncture in the Society’s history.
Previously, Laporte held marketing positions for the consulting practices of PwC and IBM. In the publishing industry, Laporte was an editor at Working Woman magazine and a Marketing Director for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Her early career included stints at Smith Barney, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Capital Cities/ABC. She holds an AB from Smith College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was editor of the weekly newspaper, The Harbus. In 2014, the Washington Business Journal recognized Suzanne with its “Women Who Mean Business” award. “We are delighted to welcome Suzanne to our AHS team,” said Marcia Zech, AHS Board Chair. “Suzanne brings a unique perspective and comprehensive approach to non-profit management that will help inform all of our work. In addition, she will be a key partner in our efforts to lay the necessary groundwork for carrying out our national horticultural mission,” noted Zech. “It’s truly an honor to join AHS during the Society’s 100th anniversary year,” Laporte said. “I look forward to working with the entire AHS team to help strengthen the organization to further its important work.”
The revitalization of River Farm as the home base for AHS’s national horticultural programs will also be a key focus for Laporte and the Board this year. Laporte will work closely with the Board’s River Farm Committee to identify long-term funding, planning and maintenance requirements for the property, including addressing the most pressing needs for repair and renovation of the buildings, grounds and gardens. A concurrent goal will be to explore options for maximizing programmatic opportunities to reach a broad national audience. “River Farm is a stunning place of natural beauty with immeasurable historical and cultural significance to our region and nation,” notes Laporte. “It is a place where AHS can literally ‘live the mission’ of honoring our nation’s horticultural history while positioning the organization as a leader in innovative gardening practices. I look forward to identifying creative ways to leverage this extraordinary asset in advancement of the AHS national mission while helping to protect the property for future generations,” she said.
Laporte will continue to build on the stewardship and transition achievements of former Director Keith Tomlinson, who helped AHS emerge from the challenges caused by the pandemic and addressed immediate operational needs, especially related to the re-opening of River Farm and the initial launch of garden clean-up and maintenance efforts. Tomlinson will continue to advise the AHS Board on horticultural matters in an informal, volunteer capacity, according to Board Chair Zech. “We are grateful to Keith for helping us during our transition period and look forward to further collaboration with him,” continued Zech. “Suzanne’s appointment as President/CEO, combined with the gardening expertise of our onsite team, including a group of exceptional volunteer gardeners, ensures that we have both the experienced executive leadership and horticultural knowledge to help chart a positive new course,” said Zech. “As we celebrate our 100th anniversary year in 2022, the Board believes that Suzanne is the right person at the right time to help us launch the next 100 years,” concluded Zech. Laporte begins her AHS duties on March 21, 2022.
About AHS: For 100 years, the American Horticultural Society (AHS) is committed to increasing knowledge among American gardeners, garden enthusiasts and professional horticulturists, inspiring a passion for plants and the Earth.
Media Contact: Brian Bauman
American Horticultural Society