Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Hires Executive Director

Tom Underwood, Executive Director, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Tom Underwood selected as Executive Director

Birmingham, AL— 1/9/17Today, the Birmingham Botanical Society, known as the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is pleased to announce that Tom Underwood will be named as Executive Director beginning in February 2017. Underwood is nationally recognized in the field of horticulture and brings with him a set of experiences and qualities that will be a benefit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for many years to come.

This announcement comes as the result of a nationwide search for the best candidate to advance the leadership and mission of the Friends of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This search was ably led by John Floyd, formerly Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living Magazine, and his committee which included representatives from several groups including Kevin Moore, Director of the City of Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board; James Horton, Director, Birmingham Botanical Gardens; Penney Hartline, Friends Vice President of Development; Mike Rushing, representing the multiple Plant Societies active at The Gardens; garden club benefactors representative and incoming Chair, Beverley Hoyt; and from the Friends’ Board of Directors, Carl Jones and Bill Ireland.

Underwood’s Nationally Recognized Experience

  • Served as Executive Director of the American Horticulture Society (AHS) in Alexandria, Virginia since 2002 where he is responsible for all aspects including communications, development, membership, events and administration. AHS is a ninety-year-old organization that connects people to gardening through education and other programs amongst a membership of 20,000. For more, please go to
  • Prior to AHS Tom spent 23 years at Walt Disney World where he served in a variety of roles prior to becoming Manager of the Horticulture Services Department.
  • He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture from California Polytechnic State University and a Masters in Science Education from the University of Central Florida.

“We couldn’t be more excited about Tom joining our team” offers Brian Barr, who has served as Chair of the Friends Board the past two years. “Our organization enjoys a great public/private partnership with the City of Birmingham to promote knowledge and appreciation of plants and gardens, and their importance to our environment. Tom’s background is a great fit to help us keep on track to become one of the nation’s preeminent Botanical Gardens.”

About Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Birmingham Botanical Gardens enjoys more than 12,000 different plants in its collections. The Gardens’ 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden, and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year around and more than 11,000 school children enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors. For more information on the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, please visit


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