Filoli, Woodside's historic mansion house and gardens, announced on Saturday, July 1, that it has hired a new executive director with years of experience in running a large botanical garden.
Kara Newport, who has been the executive director of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina, for the past 10 years, will start working at the historic estate on Sept. 1, according to a statement from Filoli.
Newport will be Filoli's sixth executive director in 12 years. The most recent director, Cynthia D'Agosta, left abruptly in early November 2015, slightly less than three years after her hiring. She formerly served as the executive director of the Committee for Green Foothills, and was the first executive director of the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority.
Donna Colson, the president of Filoli's governing board, said Newport "is a visionary leader with over two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector."
Newport will have some rebuilding to do at Filoli. In early 2015, hundreds of Filoli volunteers, including 80 who volunteered in the organization's nature hike program, resigned rather than sign a controversial volunteer agreement.
Volunteers told the Almanac that they felt the agreement left them open to liability while volunteering. They also objected to other clauses in the agreement. One volunteer said the nature docents who had left had more than 250 collective years of experience as Filoli volunteers.
Newport, who has a master's degree in public horticulture administration from the University of Delaware and a bachelor's degree in botany from Miami University, had also worked as vice president of development for the Discovery Place, a hands-on science museum in North Carolina.
She also did fundraising for the Franklin Institute science museum and education center in Philadelphia and worked for the Philadelphia Zoo. She is also the treasurer of the American Public Garden Association.