A Note from Executive Director Jamie Maslyn Larson

August 2, 2023

Dear Tohono Chul Family, 

The heat is on! Seems like eons ago when we had Tohono Chul’s annual Member’s Reception in a much cooler April. Hundreds of members came to enjoy music, stroll the gardens, and learn about our recent initiatives and programs. It was a pleasure to spend time with you! We are moved by your unwavering support of our mission and enjoyment of our vibrant desert oasis. 

A Look Back

At the 2023 Members Reception, I shared the “State of the Gardens Address” —it sounds serious, and it is. Our goal of the speech was to connect more deeply with you, share some specific goals for the next year and tout some of our accomplishments since I joined as Executive Director. Here are some of our accomplishments in the last 18 months: 

Jamie Maslyn Larson during the 2023 Members’ Reception. By Nikita Marie Photography.

Team Building

We want to make Tohono Chul the best place to work in Tucson! Our progress includes filling essential roles, including a full time Director of Finance, Director of Strategic Growth, Human Resource Manager, gardens, marketing, events, philanthropy, propagation, and facilities. We reinstated monthly staff meetings, created goals, and now support our team’s growth with professional development funding.  

New Programming

You understand how amazing Tohono Chul is, and each day more and more people are becoming invested by becoming members. New programs like Chillin at the Chul and Children’s Museum Oro Valley have increased visitation by children by ten times from one year ago! And our membership has increased by 25% in one year, to over 9,500 households. 

Renewing our Gardens
As patrons of Tohono Chul, I know you have a reverence for our beautiful gardens. You also know that gardens are dynamic, living systems that are constantly changing and need tending. We are making our gardens more lovely to experience every day—with arbor care, new relaxing seating, and our first renovation project: Spanish Colonial Garden! Come November, this garden will showcase our beloved Ironwood trees, have 100% native Sonoran Desert species, and elevated water conservation and dark skies compliant lighting. 

Becoming Good Ancestors
Ralph Nader once stated, “we must strive to become good ancestors.” It is our responsibility to make Tohono Chul ready for its future stewards and preserve it for them as well as us. And we cannot do that without thinking about the impacts from climate change. Whether it’s the work to conserve water or climate risk assessment of our tree collection, we are taking major steps to become a model of what the Wilson’s called for us to be: “wise stewards of the Sonoran Desert.” 

Images from the 2023 Members’ Reception. By Nikita Marie Photography.

How do you value Tohono Chul?

Tohono Chul is a true gift to our community, thanks to the incredible vision and generosity of Dick and Jean Wilson who donated Tohono Chul to us. We asked our friends at Long Realty to help us quantify the monetary value of Tohono Chul in today’s dollars: a jaw dropping $40-50 million! But to me, and I know to you, Tohono Chul is priceless and one of a kind. We are a part of what makes Tucson and Oro Valley great places to live.  

Visitors wander the Gardens of Tohono Chul, Spring 2023

Others feel the value of Tohono Chul in their lives as well. Last year, we saw our highest attendance in over 20 years! Our gardens, galleries, bistro, educational and public programs have folks returning again and again, connecting with a community who understand and appreciate the value that our garden provides.  

Please share with us what you value about Tohono Chul! Jot me an email at executivedirector@tohonochul.org. We are incredibly excited for the future and grateful for your support. Thank you for being part of our community. 

Best Regards, 

Jamie Maslyn Larson 
Executive Director