Jessica Fiske Bailey appointed executive director of UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Jessica Fiske Bailey
Jessica Fiske Bailey

Jessica Fiske Bailey, assistant vice provost for academic affairs at UC Santa Cruz, has been named executive director of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. Bailey has been an active member of the Arboretum community since joining the Board of the Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum in 2012.

The executive administrator position at the Arboretum was last held by Dan Harder in 2009, and since then Brett Hall has served as director. With Bailey's appointment, Hall has been named director of collections and conservation, enabling him to focus his full attention on the Arboretum's plant collections and education programs.

Bailey has extensive experience in nonprofit administration, organizational development, and fundraising. She has worked at UC Santa Cruz for over nine years and served as assistant vice provost of undergraduate education for five years.

"I'm delighted to have Jessica in this role," said Herbert Lee, vice provost for academic affairs. "She brings experience with nonprofit leadership to complement the existing wealth of botanical expertise at the Arboretum. She is in a great position to deepen connections between the Arboretum and the local community, as well as the Arboretum and the campus."

The focus of Bailey's efforts at the Arboretum will be on the sustainability of the collections, fundraising and financial stability, and enhancing the visitor experience.

"We have a stellar staff at the Arboretum, with recognized expertise and longstanding relationships with community members. My role will complement the staff and relieve them of some of the administrative and management responsibilities so that they can focus on their real passions," Bailey said.

One of her goals, she said, is to raise awareness in the community of the Arboretum's world-class collections and its important contributions to plant conservation and endangered species management. The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum serves both the campus and the public with its rich and diverse collection of plants from around the world. It has research and teaching facilities and maintains collections of rare and threatened plants of unusual scientific interest.

The Arboretum's collections include large assemblages of plants from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as California natives. Many of the species in these collections are not otherwise available for study in American botanical gardens. The Arboretum is also involved in importing, selecting, and breeding ornamental plants, especially those that are drought tolerant and pest resistant, and has introduced many choice ornamentals to the nursery trade.

"We have a world-renowned collection, and we're doing good work in conservation and education. The campus has invested in this gem because it sees the value of that work and its relevance to the broader mission of the university," Bailey said.

Bailey has a masters of public administration from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in political science from UCLA. Before coming to UC Santa Cruz, she was a consultant to nonprofits and courts, a coordinator for judicial education programs, and a fundraiser for the Point Reyes Bird Observatory.