Woman smiles while standing outside

Joy Columbus

Director, Smithsonian Gardens

Joy Columbus is the director of Smithsonian Gardens. Established in 1972 to maintain the museum grounds, Smithsonian Gardens extends the museum experience in a public garden setting, engaging and inspiring visitors with innovative displays and educating them about horticulture, plants, the natural environment and artistic design.  

Previously, Columbus was the vice president of horticulture at the new Houston Botanic Garden Columbus where she helped oversee construction, set the horticulture priorities and assembled and managed the horticulture staff for Phase I of the first botanic garden within the city limits of Houston, which celebrated its opening Sept. 18, 2020.

Before this, she worked with the New York State Office of Parks and Cleveland Botanical Garden and served as a research assistant at Miami University of Ohio. She was the director of horticulture at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois, where she initiated and coordinated the development of a multi-phase $35 million campus revitalization plan, Project New Leaf. 

Columbus has a bachelor’s degree in botany and horticulture from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master's degree in biology from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. 

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