The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden Appoints Michael Desplaines as CEO, Elevating the Institution’s Commitment to Community and Environmental Stewardship

LOS ANGELES, CA, May 23, 2023— The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden today announced the appointment of Michael Desplaines as Chief Executive Officer. Desplaines brings over two decades of experience in historic property development and restoration, public garden management, environmental education, and fundraising. Desplaines will begin his new role in July.

“We are thrilled to introduce Michael as the new CEO of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. His extensive experience in horticulture, conservation, and the environment, will advance the Arboretum as a blooming and living educational and cultural resource connecting community with nature,” said Norma Edith García-González, Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. “As LA County Parks addresses climate change impact, Michael’s leadership will continue to inspire and engage Arboretum visitors to be active stewards of our environment and further our commitment to access and equity.”

Desplaines previously served as the president and CEO of the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Virginia, where he successfully increased annual attendance from under 300,000 to over 500,000 visitors and grew the operating budget from $4 million to over $8 million.

“We are excited to welcome Michael as the CEO of the Arboretum. He has an impressive track record of leadership and extensive expertise in the horticulture and environmental education sectors,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “The Arboretum is a beloved institution which provides community members of all ages access to nature and a peaceful environment. Michael’s leadership will build on the Arboretum’s success and ensure this oasis is here for generations to come.”

Desplaines has also served as the Executive Director of Castle in the Clouds, a historic property in New Hampshire and has held leadership positions at McLaughlin Garden & Homestead in Maine and Cranston Public Schools in Rhode Island.

“Michael brings a passion to connect people to nature, especially the young, so that they become advocates of public gardens and green spaces for future generations and our planet,” said Annette Castro Ramirez, president of the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation Board of Trustees. “We look forward to Michael working with our dedicated community of stakeholders to further enhance our beautiful gardens, programs, and historic resources. He will be opening new chapters in the rich history of the Arboretum and positioning us for great success into the future.”

Desplaines holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Rhode Island and a Master’s in Historic Preservation from Plymouth State University.

For more information about the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation and its programs, visit

Media Contacts:

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