Gardening and Mental Health

  • Sophia Shaw Chicago Botanic Garden


No abstract

Author Biography

Sophia Shaw, Chicago Botanic Garden
Sophia Shaw serves as president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, one of the largest cultural institutions in Chicago and a pre-eminent botanic garden of the world. The Garden’s main campus welcomes more than one million visitors annually to its living plant museum of 156 hectares, featuring 26 gardens and 81 ha of lakes and rivers, as well as a prairie and woodland of 6 and 40 ha respectively. The Garden is an international leader in horticulture,
plant biology and conservation, and public engagement, and serves as an international model for urban agriculture and horticulture employment, training and education, with an emphasis on programmes for diverse and under-served communities in partnership with schools, hospitals and rehabilitation centres. Sophia’s significant achievements include leadership and ongoing execution of the Garden’s ten-year strategic plan and master site plan, ‘Keep Growing’ (2010–2020);
the opening of the Gold LEED-rated Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center and launch of the plant biology and conservation PhD programme
with Northwestern University (2009); the Trellis Bridge and Bernice E. Lavin Plant Evaluation Garden (2011); the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden, North Lake
shoreline restoration, and Kleinman Family Cove (2012); the North Branch multi-use trail addition (2014); and the groundbreaking Kris Jarantoski Campus (2013) and Learning Campus (2014). Under Sophia’s guidance, the Garden generated a 52 per cent increase in attendance from 2005 to 2014, five years of record fundraising ($39 million in 2014) and positive budget results.
Sophia holds both a BA (Wellesley College) and an MA (University of Chicago) in art history as well as an MBA in finance (Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University). Prior to joining the Chicago Botanic Garden, she served at
the Field Museum as vice-president for exhibitions and education. Sophia also serves as chair of the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) Non-Federal Cooperator Committee and is immediate past president of the board of the Arts Club of Chicago. She is active in the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Chicago chapter and is a member of the
Commercial Club of Chicago, among other affiliations. Sophia has been a gardener and naturalist since she was a child.


EDDY, M.B. (1896). Taking offense. Miscellaneous Writings, 1883–1896. The Christian Science Board of Directors, Boston, MA, pp. 223–224.

LITHWICK, D. (2013). The Plant Whisperer: A mother, a daughter, and a garden. Available online: (accessed March 2015).

How to Cite
Shaw, S. (2015). Gardening and Mental Health. Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (13), 3-13.