A former neighbor is returning to Descanso Gardens in July to serve as the new executive director of the nature facility in La Cañada Flintridge.
David R. Brown, who served as president of the nearby Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for 14 years, will take over his new post July 18.
Descanso, which is owned by LA County and managed by the Descanso Gardens Guild, has been searching for a new director for the past year. Director of Development Linda Mitchell has served as acting director during that time.
Brown most recently served as the first president of Oxbow School in Napa. He was president and CEO of Art Center from 1985-1999, and also served as a consultant with Arroyo Partners in Pasadena. He was recruited in 2003 to serve as the first president of Oxbow. While there, he continued consulting engagements with several clients such as the University of Southern California and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
Brown is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a master's degree from Trinity College. He is a past president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and a trustee of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. He is also past president of the board of Westridge School.
Brown and his wife, Judith Lee, were introduced to the Descanso community by board chair Amy Lamb at Saturday night's gala fundraising dinner in the Gardens.
Lamb said of Brown, "The range of experience and expertise he brings is perfectly suited for Descanso as we move into a new era of long-range planning. We are confident he is the person to help us develop and reach new goals as a premier public botanic garden and as a community resource for natural-science education."
She also praised the Garden's senior staff members, led by Linda Mitchell, who have managed day-to-day operations of the Gardens during the past year. "During our search for an executive director, the Board of Trustees has had the luxury of knowing that business was continuing seamlessly under the direction of this very capable group, she stated. "We can't begin to tell them how appreciative we are of their efforts and their dedication."
Brown told the Valley Sun he is delighted to be returning to the area. "We never left," he said. "I've been living in Pasadena and commuting to Napa. I'm one of Southwest's best customers."
The new director said he was familiar with Descanso as a visitor, and knew several member of the board.
"I was recruited for the job," he said. "It's a bit of a change of direction for me. I plan to spend my first few months on the job making plans for the future."
- Charles Cooper