Botanical Garden of the Ozarks announces Ashley Wardlow as new executive director

Ashley Wardlow (Courtesy, Scott C Wood Photography)

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks on Wednesday announced Ashley Wardlow as the non-profit’s new executive director.

She will take over for interim director Keith Ehmke beginning Dec. 18.

Wardlow currently works for the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. She joined the chamber in 2020 as executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, and was promoted to executive vice president in late 2021, before being named interim president and CEO in early 2022 following the resignation of Graham Cobb.

Wardlow said she’s honored to accept the position and is committed to nurturing the growth of the institution.

“The garden represents what’s best for our region, serving for nearly 20 years as a source of inspiration, education, and community enrichment,” said Wardlow. “I commend BGO’s board of directors, professional staff, volunteers, and supporters for their dedicated stewardship. Together, we’ll add to the strong foundation they’ve built, advancing a shared vision for the Garden’s vibrant future.”

Wardlow administered $1.1 million in grant funding while increasing sponsorships and expanding access to the tech summit during her time at the chamber, according to a news release. Before joining the chamber, Wardlow was a development officer at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art where she raised over $1.8 million from corporations, foundations, and individuals, the release stated.

“She’s well-qualified to lead the garden, and in particular, her skills in partnering with other organizations, in community relations and outreach, and in strategic planning will be huge assets to the garden,” said BGO board president Lynn Carver. “She’s a leader that will be motivational and a real team builder.”