The board of directors of the Quad City Botanical Center announced the upcoming retirement of Executive Director Ami Porter effective in May. Porter has led the organization since 2010 and started at the Center in 1998.

“It has been such an honor to serve the Botanical Center and this community. I am very proud of what our team has accomplished, and I will be leaving the Botanical Center in a great position to propel forward, despite the difficulties we endured in 2020 due to the pandemic. I am humbled to have so many volunteers help us year after year, including board members,” stated Porter. “I’m looking forward to my next adventure with my family in northern Wisconsin, but will continue to be connected to the Quad Cities through friends and family.”

Porter continues, “While 2020 presented obstacles, the Botanical Center was especially hard hit. For several months no visitors could attend per state order. When the gardens did re-open, we couldn’t yet offer meeting and event space that are essential for revenue generation. Through the generosity of the community, local foundations and many grants, we have endured and are currently in a stable position for

Ami Porter

further recovery and growth. I am confident the Botanical Center will continue to thrive under new leadership.”

Porter’s achievements while leading the organization are lengthy. Among them are the successful launch of the annual Winter Nights Winter Lights exhibit that started in 2017. Porter envisioned turning the gardens into a colorful winter garden experience for the community to enjoy. The exhibit serves as the Botanical Center’s major fundraiser. Over 130,000 lights were on display for the 2020 season.

In 2014 Porter was instrumental in the opening of the Children’s Garden, a one-and-a-half-acre outdoor educational garden for visitors, complete with a mini Mississippi River water feature. In 2020, Phase 2 was completed, expanding the children’s garden river experience to include a naturalized pond, representative of the Mississippi River headwaters in Itasca, Minnesota. Visitors can enjoy the Children’s Garden when it opens in the spring.

Board Chairperson Denise Kimler credits Porter with the success of the gardens. “When Ami became executive director, she inherited some financial challenges. She quickly reorganized the focus of the organization to improve operational stability and steadily expanded the gardens and exhibits to provide a top-notch visitor experience. Without her vision and leadership, we would not be in the stable position we are today. Ami has been a champion to bring people and plants together in fun and meaningful ways. Her ability to connect with donors and the community is remarkable and genuine and we will miss her passion. Nobody loves the gardens like Ami.”

Porter’s planned retirement has enabled the board to assemble a search committee to conduct a local and national search. Applicants may apply at www.qcgardens.com/careers–internships

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.