Jennifer Van Valkenburg: President & CEO

CHICAGO – Development leader Jennifer Van Valkenburg has been named President & CEO of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance (GPCA). Van Valkenburg has spent her career serving preeminent conservation and cultural institutions including Openlands, the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the John G. Shedd Aquarium. GPCA provides innovative programs and experiences in the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest public plant conservatories in the world.

Van Valkenburg comes to GPCA from Openlands, which protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region. As VP of Development for Openlands, Van Valkenburg raised $2.8-$3 million annually, recruited new board members, and established the organization’s first junior board. Prior to Openlands, she served as VP of Institutional Advancement for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, where she established a planned giving program, raised $2.7 million annually and helped to create the ArcelorMittal LEGO Design Studio. Previously, as Senior Director of Member and Donor Relations at the John G. Shedd Aquarium, Van Valkenburg increased major gifts and planned giving, and raised $12 million annually. She has also served as the Shedd’s Director of Individual Giving and Special Campaigns and as Assistant Director of Corporate Relations.

Van Valkenburg received a Master of Public Administration from the University of South Alabama and a Bachelor of Arts from Illinois State University. She is a former member of the Chicago Park District’s Smith Park Advisory Council.

Van Valkenburg began her duties as President & CEO of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance on April 30, 2018.

The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance works closely with the Chicago Park District to provide educational programming, events and resources to Garfield Park Conservatory visitors year-round. The Conservatory hosts over 230,000 visitors annually, engages over 56,000 of them with free public programming and provides school field trips for over 17,000 Chicago children. The Conservatory is owned and managed by the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit