The American Public Gardens Association (APGA) announced Holly Shimizu, Former Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) as the winner of the Association’s Honorary Life Member Award.  The award was one of the Association’s 2015 member awards given during APGA’s Annual Conference held in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota this week.

Now in its 39th year, the APGA awards honor the public horticulture industry’s most influential, inspirational, and pioneering individuals and organizations. The Honorary Life Member Award recognizes an individual who has supported the Association through active committee work,energetic membership, and leadership positions, and whose meritorious service has led to the advancement of the Association. The first APGA Honorary Life Member Award was given in 1958 to the groundbreaking landscape architect and garden designer Beatrix Jones Farrand, marking the award’s illustrous history.

Shimizu’s nomination letter, submitted by Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, LEED AP Architect of the Capital and Director, U.S. Botanic Garden and Ari Novy, Executive Director, U.S. Botanic Garden read in part: “Holly Shimizu is everything one could hope for in a public garden leader and advocate. Entering a room, she is often described as a “breath of fresh air.”

A longtime member of the APGA, Shimizu served on the organization’s Board and has been a respected leader in the world of public gardens and horticulture for more than 30 years. As the Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG), Shimizu advanced the USBG’s public presence developing an excellent reputation with Congress and forged collaborative partnerships with The White House, D.C. Public Schools, the Smithsonian, the American Society for Landscape Architects, and the LBJ Wildflower Center.

Shimizu was instrumental in the advancement of Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), which provides professional standards for sustainability in landscape design and maintenance.  Through her efforts, a Presidential Executive Order was enacted to apply the ecological principals of SITES to all federal construction and landscape projects.

The APGA award winners set a professional precedent for other individuals and organizations to follow. Thenomination process begins in the fall and winners are announced during the annual APGA conference in June.  An eight-member committee whose volunteers serve as leaders in the public garden community selected the finalists and winners.