Friends of the Public Garden 2017 Year in Review


2017 board of directors


  • Leslie S. Adam, Chair*
  • Colin Zick, First Vice Chair
  • Valerie Burns, Vice Chair
  • Abigail Mason, Vice Chair
  • Catherine Bordon, Secretary
  • William Clendaniel, Treasurer


  • Leslie Adam*
  • Allison Achtmeyer
  • Bear Albright
  • Christine Anderson
  • Gordon Burns*
  • Claire Corcoran
  • Linda Cox
  • Kate Enroth**
  • Elizabeth Johnson*
  • Frank Mead*
  • Barbara Moore**
  • Beatrice Nessen
  • Katherine O’Keeffe*
  • Margaret Pokorny
  • Patricia Quinn
  • Anne Swanson**
  • Allan Taylor*

ex officio

  • Leslie S. Adam**
  • Jeanne Burlingame*
  • Jim Hood*
  • Christine W. Letts**
  • Sherley Smith


  • Ann K. Collier
  • Nina Doggett
  • Barbara Hostetter

president emeritus

  • Henry Lee


  • Jane Bindley
  • Arthur Clarke**
  • Nina Doggett
  • Susan Domolky
  • Dan Donahue*
  • Ronald Druker
  • Matthew Dwyer
  • Alexis Egan
  • Jean Egan
  • Katherine Pokorny Gundry
  • Deborah Hale
  • James Hood, co-chair*
  • Barbara Hostetter
  • Elizabeth Johnson**
  • Sidney Kenyon
  • Thomas Kershaw
  • Christine Letts, co-chair**
  • Tom Lewis*
  • Leslie Lucchina
  • Annsley McAleer
  • Jane McKinnell
  • Anthony Morris
  • Margaret Morton
  • Anne Mostue
  • Peter Nessen
  • Elizabeth Owens
  • Lyn Paget, co-chair
  • Frederick Pfannenstiehl
  • Julia Pfannenstiehl
  • Frederick Putnam
  • Pixie Robinson*
  • Diane Rooney
  • Abigail Trafford
  • Martha Walz
  • *term began in 2017
  • **term ended in 2017
  • +deceased


  • Elizabeth Vizza
    Executive Director
  • Mary Halpin
    Director of Development
  • Susan Abell
    Director of Communications and Outreach
  • Robert Mulcahy
    Project Manager
  • Charlotte Bowden
    Executive Assistant
  • Rachel Hangley
    Development Associate
  • Elizabeth Jordan
    Communications and Outreach Associate
  • Stephen TenBarge
    Finance Manager and Brewer Plaza Coordinator
picture of Leslie and Liz

Thank you! It is because of your support, our Friends and park fans, that we had another significant year working to care, renew, and advocate for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Your support allowed us to invest $1,096,135 this year alone to provide what our parks require, above what the City can contribute.

We believe that advocacy and care must go hand in hand. You have made it possible for the Friends to advocate for the protection and improvement of our greenspaces. While we lost the battle to prevent the Winthrop Square development exemption from the state shadow laws protecting the Common and Garden, we succeeded in gaining the City’s commitment to engage in both a master plan for the Common and a comprehen- sive planning study for Downtown. The year began with 175,000 people coming together on the Common for the Women’s March, the first of many demonstrations illustrating the central importance of the Common as the irreplaceable heart of Boston’s political and civic life. One of our signature events, Duckling Day, was sadly canceled due to inclement weather, while Making History on the Common engaged over 1,000 Boston elementary school children, despite the rain, in a fun-filled, interactive day during which they learned about more than 1,000 years of history that have unfolded on or near the Common.

It was an important year in the Public Garden with the completion of our latest capital project, the restoration of the George Robert White Memorial fountain which now flows once again, after decades of being dry. It is hard to believe it has been 30 years since China Altman started the Rose Brigade, in whose honor we commissioned a hybrid rose to be named after her, and with due ceremony planted in the Ether rose bed.

While we provide vital care for the trees and lawns, sculptures and fountains, thanks to concerned and dedicated Friends like you, we must continue to fight against threats like damaging shadows or overuse of the Common for special events, as well as concerns about safety in our Downtown parks. As you know, this was my first year as Board chair and I am honored, with Liz, to advance the Friends’ mission for excellence of care along with proactive advocacy for parks protection. We are so thankful for Friends like you, who make all of this important work possible!

Leslie and Liz

Friends of the Public Garden total parks expenditure 1970: $500 2017: $1,250,000
One unique rose and 30 years of dedication. China Altman founded the Rose Brigade 30 years ago, and she with a dedicated group of volunteers has cared for the four rose beds in the Public Garden ever since. To honor her dedication, the Friends of the Public Garden commissioned a beautiful, unique rose named the China Altman rose that was planted in the Ether rose bed.
$67,500 to clean and repoint the stone, cleaned and restored the bronze of the CHANNING MEMORIAL, text on the rear of the monument. The conservation also included scraping and painting the unique fencing on either side of the monument and repointing the granite base rail and posts.
Zero ducklings. Duckling day was cancelled due to stormy weather.
fourteen praying mantises released in to the Common, the Garden and the Mall. A natural and safe means of pest control, one part of the arsenal of organic care the Friends uses to help the parks thrive.
saved 440,000 GALLONS OF WATER in one month, in one section, in one park testing a new smart irrigation system.
$200,000 spent pruning 300 TREES in the three parks.
One Angel & Two Ram’s Head cornucopias and a beautifully restored working George Robert White Fountain.

OPERATING RESULTS (in thousands)

INCOME 2017 2016
Membership $590 $550
Contributions, Grants & Bequests 560 482
Development & Public Events 728 524
Revenue 75 51
Endow. Draw &Temp. Rest. Assets 859 990
Total Income $2,810 $2,597
Program Services:
Parks Care — Common, Garden & Mall $1,040 $1,027
Public Programs 190 173
Personnel & Overhead 355 399
Total Program Services $1,585 $1,539
Events $116 $105
Personnel & Overhead 334 322
Total Development $450 $427
Administration: $144 $143
Total Expenses: $2,179 $2,109
Trans. to Endow. & Temp. Restr. Assets $(600) $(445)
Net Surplus/Deficit $31 $43

statements of financial position (in thousands)

ASSETS 2017 2016
Current Assets:
Cash & Cash Equivalents $716 $943
Pledges & Accounts Receivable 644 53
Prepaid Expenses 34 26
Total Current Assets $1,394 $1,022
Investments $21,454 $17,467
Property & Equipment 817 848
Performance Deposit 40 40
Total Assets $23,705 $19,377
Accounts Payable & Accruals $117 $169
Deferred Revenue 25 25
Mortgage Payable 293 527
Total Liabilities $436 $721
Net Assets:
Unrestricted $6,006 $5,378
Temporarily Restricted 3,857 2,212
Permanently Restricted 13,406 11,066
Total Net Assets $23,269 $18,656
Total Liabilities & Net Assets $23,705 $19,377

Friends of the Public Garden, Inc.

Notes to Operating Results and Statements of Financial Position

Operating Results

It was a very successful year financially. Total Support was $1.9 million, over $300,000 higher than the $1.6 million received in 2016. The very successful Green & White Gala brought in a record-breaking $700,000, $200,000 above budget. In addition, tree and bench sponsorships exceeded budget by over $100,000. The rolling three-year average of our investments, measured at September 30, 2017, decreased slightly from $17.2 million to $17.1 million. Income from Temporarily Restricted Assets also decreased mainly due to the smaller pool of funds available from the previous year. Total Income rose 8% to a new high of $2.8 million.

Total Expenses for 2017 were 3% higher than 2016. While Parks Care spending increased only slightly compared to 2016, over the last five years we have averaged an increase of 11% annually. Total Personnel & Overhead expenses increased by almost 4% mainly due to the full year salaries of the two new staff positions hired in 2016. We transferred $600,000 to Temporarily Restricted Funds, split $150,000 each to the Common, Garden and Mall Funds to be used in 2018, plus $150,000 to the Shaw Memorial Fund, needed for the upcoming renovation project. We ended the year with a small surplus, just as in 2016.

Statements of Financial Position

Investment performance for 2017 was 17.9%. While slightly below our benchmark for the year, it was ahead of the benchmark for the five and ten year periods. Our endowment is in the top 25% of the Cambridge Associates universe of endowments of less than $100 million. The increase in Pledges Receivable is due to the successful fundraising for the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment. Our goal of raising $2.5 million was reached during 2017. Lastly, due to the very positive cash flow generated during the year, we were able to make $200,000 in additional principal payments on our mortgage.