In 2013, PARD and AAGC conducted a visioning exercise which highlighted the Garden’s needs and untapped potential, including needs for the future:
Recognizing that managing a botanical garden does not fall under its mission, AAGC then conducted a public survey and hired Seeds for Change Consulting to complete a study of funding and management options for ZBG. The results of the survey and study made clear that ZBG has the potential to become a world-class botanical garden with the establishment of a dedicated entity leading that mission and to undertake the operation and management of ZBG. Given this was an established and successful model in various other cities, in 2015, volunteers officially formed the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy to work with the City and grow ZBG for the future. Both a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board were established with seats filled by AAGC members, community members and City staff. These groups worked to establish Articles of Incorporation, 501(c)(3) status, Bylaws and a business development plan.
In 2015, ZBGC was awarded funding by the Austin City Council to partially fund an Executive Director and organization operating costs. In order to meet the deliverables of the contract with the City, in 2016, the Conservancy launched an effort to hire its first paid employee: Executive Director. July 1, 2016 Cat Newlands, the first paid staff member of the Conservancy, was hired as Executive Director.
In 2016-17, PARD, JetBlue, Environmental Survey Consulting, Taniguchi Architects, and ZBGC partnered on the streambed restoration project. It was first major construction project in the Garden in 15 years. The rebuilt stream and new garden space was designed by David Mahler, of Environmental Survey Consulting, and the construction drawings were donated by ZBGC Board Member, Evan Taniguchi. A leaking streambed was transformed into a beautiful series of small ponds and waterfalls surrounded by native Texas riparian wetland plantings and educational spaces. The new garden area was dedicated at the Zilker Garden Festival on March 25, 2017.
For for more on the streambed restoration:
In March 2017, ZBGC held it’s first fundraising event in the Garden, The Starlight Social. Presented by Norton Rose Fulbright, the event honored Mayor Frank & Mrs. Lynn Cooksey.
Guests enjoyed a private, twilight tour of ZBGC’s first improvements to the Garden, followed by signature cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres & wine, live music from Courtney Santana, and lively conversation.
In June 2017 ZBCG hired botanical garden expert, Rick Daly (emdconsulting), to develop viable strategic and financial plan for long-term success and sustainability.