Thank you and farewell to Denise Ora, Chief Executive, Botanic Gardens of Sydney


Dear Friends,

I have important news to share with our Foundation & Friends community regarding the inspirational Chief Executive of the Botanic Gardens of Sydney, Denise Ora.

After four years of inspiring and authentic leadership, Denise Ora has decided to step down from her current position. Early in the new year, Denise will take on the new role of Chief Executive Officer of the recently formed Metropolitan Memorial Parks within the NSW Government.

During her tenure as Chief Executive, Denise played a central role in advancing the Botanic Gardens of Sydney’s mission. The global launch of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, building our new National Herbarium of NSW and digitising the collection, release of the inaugural First Nations Engagement Strategy, completion of the comprehensive Living Collections Strategy, a growing and diverse events calendar and innovative education programs – and so much more.

The Botanic Gardens are stronger, bolder, and more effective due to Denise’s inclusive and visionary direction. That vision and leadership not only shaped the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, and the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan – but also left a lasting impact on Foundation & Friends. Our working relationship with the Botanic Gardens of Sydney is in a very strong position.

I know that Denise has connected with so many of you – from our Growing Friends volunteers, our exhibition curators, our office volunteers, and our amazing donors – day and night in support of our events and activities. I have personally enjoyed working with Denise in many different forums – she would always give her full energy and passion to the work that we do and for the people we work with. Denise was always very generous with her time and advice, and this has helped me support the Foundation & Friends community.

Importantly, Denise was a proud member of the Foundation & Friends Board. Her insights were key in developing our bold new plan and vision.

I know you will join me in acknowledging her support and congratulating her on this exciting appointment. Denise’s last day as Chief Executive will be Friday, 19 January 2024. If you would like to share a message of thanks, please email

During the recruitment process, our good friend Professor Brett Summerell, Chief Scientist and Director of Science, Education, and Conservation, will be acting in the Chief Executive role.

Denise’s dedication for plant conservation has ensured the Botanic Gardens of Sydney is a global leader in environmental conservation, plant science and education. I know you will join all of us in expressing our gratitude to Denise.

Thank you,

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