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Brookgreen Gardens: Head of Virginia museum named new CEO

Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Founded by a woman sculptor and her husband in the 1930s, Brookgreen Gardens has named its first woman as president and CEO.

Page Hayhurst Kiniry has agreed to take the position vacated by the retirement of Bob Jewell as head of the largest outdoor garden of American figurative sculpture. Jewell led a nationwide executive search committee of Brookgreen trustees to find his successor. Her hiring will be effective in January.

“I think Anna Hyatt Huntington would be pleased,” Jewell said.

Hayhurst Kiniry announced her resignation as executive director of Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, Va., this week. She will stay at the museum through the end of its 50th anniversary celebration and a campaign to raise $5 million. Along with Brookgreen Gardens, the Virginia Living Museum is one of only 14 institutions in the country accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums. Hayhurst Kiniry has a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, and a master’s from the University of Richmond.

“I am honored to be selected to lead Brookgreen, one of America’s great institutions,” she said. “Its outstanding reputation and historical legacy have been expertly managed. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build on that success and explore the many opportunities in Brookgreen’s next chapter.”

Jewell said Hayhurst Kiniry will be Brookgreen’s fifth CEO. “She has a lot of experience, being there 11 years as director. She’s lived through good times and bad times as you do in this kind of environment where you are impacted by weather and economic factors beyond your control. You have to learn to improvise, and she’s done that really well,” Jewell said.

He said he selected Hayhurst Kiniry as his successor because she understands Brookgreen’s mission and will be a good steward of the gardens. “She has that kind of personality and those values that will line up well with what we do,” he said.

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