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Botanic Garden’s Steve Windhager Chosen for Prestigious Getty Education Program

By Joni Kelly for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden |

The Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University announced the selection of 39 museum leaders from the United States and eight countries around the world to participate in the 2014 Executive Education Program for Museum Leaders, including Dr. Steve Windhager from the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Dr. Steve Windhager
Dr. Steve Windhager

Participants, chosen from a pool of 60 applicants, demonstrated an impressive record of achievement in their roles as museum leaders in their first five to seven years of senior-level management, but face significant issues in the immediate future as they influence policy and effect change at their institutions and in the wider art museum field. This is the first time the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has received such recognition.

The GLI 2014 Executive Education Program features a comprehensive and intensive curriculum aimed at deepening participants’ leadership skills in order to manage change and forge success in the global museum field. For the first time, the 2014 program offers a blended learning environment with one week of asynchronous online learning in April and two weeks of classwork in June in residence on the Claremont Graduate University campus in Claremont.

Now in its 35th year, the GLI Executive Education Program is the world’s foremost professional development program designed especially for senior-level museum executives. The 2014 cohort comes from collecting and non-collecting visual arts institutions from around the world.

Dr. Windhager and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are included among a group of executives from such prestigious institutions as: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Barnes Foundation; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution; and the Phillips Collection, to name a few. (A complete list of participating individuals and institutions is attached.) University museums are represented by the directors of the art museums at the following locations: University of Utah; University of Texas; University of Washington; University of Navarra, Spain; California State University, Long Beach; and Reed College. Among the international participants are leaders from: Royal Academy of Art in London Chatsworth House and Lismore Castle, United Kingdom; the Helsinki Art Museum, Finland; and Palace Museum and the Shaanxi History Museum, China.

“Steve brings a connective leadership focus to the GLI class of 2014,” said Melody Kanschat, executive director of the GLI. “His efforts at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden to strengthen ties between supporters, staff, and the wider community have been very successful and I look forward to watching him work with his fellow GLI students to leverage those ties to the Garden’s advantage.”

Participants are primarily museum directors, but also include those who lead museum curatorial, education, exhibitions, collections, research, development and public programming initiatives. Senior level managers from leadership education programs and botanical gardens fill out the class to ensure a diversity of perspectives and experiences for group discussions.

“Being chosen to participate in this prestigious program is such an incredible opportunity for me personally and I know it will benefit the Garden, and the community,” Windhager said. “Not only will I have the chance to learn from museum leaders from around the world, I will also have the distinct privilege of representing our city and applying this knowledge locally.”

Faculty comes from the top ranks of educational institutions including: University of Southern California; Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College; and the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Guest lecturers feature leaders from Southern California art museums. Rigorous coursework consists of modules on fundraising, strategy, marketing, and social consumerism. The curriculum blends museum site practicums at Los Angeles area institutions with classroom learning. Faculty members facilitate thoughtful analysis, exercises, and discussions using case studies based on current events and trends. This curriculum fosters learning through both theory and practice and aims to enhance museum leadership at the individual, institutional, and societal levels.

Generously supported by the Getty Foundation, over 1,100 museum professionals from the United States and over 30 additional countries have attended the Executive Education Program since 1979. GLI alumni continue to lead the field as their institutions share the world’s art, culture and history with the public.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

— Joni Kelly is the communications manager for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

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