“Dee Ann is a strategic leader with an entrepreneurial edge,” said Dr. Meigan Aronson, Dean of UBC Science, citing Ms. Benard’s experience in guiding non-profit organizations through rebranding, fundraising, and community and industry engagement. “She has particular strength in building networks and connecting participatory groups, skills which will benefit the Garden and the communities it serves.”
Ms. Benard, the Garden’s ninth director in its century-long history, brings with her a commitment to collaboration and Indigenous Reconciliation. “Working hand-in-hand with diverse stakeholders, we will forge stronger connections between the Garden, the university, and our communities,” said Dr. Tara Moreau, Associate Director of Sustainability and Community Programs at UBC Botanical Garden.
Holding a Master’s in plant pathology from Simon Fraser University, Ms. Benard comes to UBC Garden after 15 years at the helm of the Rural Development Network (RDN) in Alberta. Her leadership of the RDN, began as a provincial organization in 2009, rebranding to a national organization in 2020 – more than tripling in size and scope. Her work focused on sustainable community development, dovetails seamlessly with UBC’s vision to inspire positive change in people, ideas and actions.
As we embark on this thrilling new chapter, Ms. Benard says, “I am eager to collaborate closely with UBC’s dedicated faculty and devoted staff, volunteers, and supporters to increase the research capacity and output of the Garden, and to enrich UBC Garden’s offerings, ensuring every visitor enjoys a truly memorable experience.”
“We extend a warm welcome to Dee Ann,” said Douglas Justice, interim Garden Director. “We’re confident that her leadership will elevate UBC Botanical Garden to unprecedented heights, solidifying our status as an internationally recognized university botanical garden committed to excellence in horticulture, collections management, education, research, conservation, community outreach and public display.”
Jennifer Douglas, Associate Director, Administration: “We thank the UBC community, its visitors and the Garden’s staff and volunteers for your unwavering support and dedication to our Botanical Garden. Together, with Dee Ann’s leadership, we eagerly anticipate the extraordinary journey ahead.”