The Worcester County Horticultural Society has hired Suzanne Maas, an expert in executive transitions, to serve as the Interim CEO of the Boylston-based nonprofit, which operates from its home at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.
Maas will lead the organization while the Board of Trustees and management conduct a search for the next CEO of the institution, which marks its 175th anniversary in 2017 and which this year celebrates its 30th year at Tower Hill.
“This is a wonderful time to be part of Tower Hill’s growth,” Maas said, adding that she is looking forward to helping the institution continue its forward progress on projects such as the new Master Plan and the forthcoming Ramble, a garden dedicated to the young at heart. “If anything, we want to build on the momentum during this transition period.”
Katherine Abbott, who succeeded longtime executive director John Trexler, announced her departure in March as Tower Hill’s CEO for an opportunity to lead the newly-formed Boston Harbor Now. In recent years, Tower Hill has greatly increased its programming and special events and has seen a steady rise in admissions and new memberships.
“On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Kathy Abbott for the years of tireless devotion in building Tower Hill and putting us in a position for continued growth,” said Board of Trustees President Jim Karadimos. “I am tremendously proud of the Tower Hill team and all that they have accomplished together.”
Tower Hill’s leadership team conducted a search for an interim head of the organization and selected Maas, a Whitinsville resident, who has had the opportunity to overlap with Abbott during this transition.
Maas expects to work with Tower Hill until the search for a new permanent CEO is concluded. Maas is a partner at the consultant firm Leadership Transitions, which specializes in guiding nonprofits through periods of executive change.
“There is no one better than Suzanne Maas to lead us during this transition,” said Karadimos. “She has a profound understanding of our mission. And offers a wonderful mix of proven experience and skills in interim leadership.”
Maas began her consulting career in 1999 working with nonprofits in the areas of organizational assessment and development, strategic planning, and program development. In 2002, she focused her consulting work on leadership changes.
“The moment of a leadership turnover is such an important time in the life of an organization; it can be a tremendous capacity building moment. So this period will not just be about supporting the board to find a new CEO, but actually help the organization step up to a new level of performance as they work through the transition,” she said.
Together with her business partner, Steve Pitcher, Maas helps nonprofits take what is often a stressful experience – the loss of the executive director – and turn it into a time of creativity in which board and staff lay the foundation for expanded organizational performance, and create an environment in which the new leader is likely to thrive.
Throughout her career, Maas has served as founder, chair and member of numerous boards. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of Family Services of Central Massachusetts.