5 Things You Don’t Know about the 71st Man of the Year

September 15, 2020 |

Strong, diverse leadership is our advantage as we work to create a stronger Arizona. That’s why every year we celebrate outstanding community leaders. Kenneth J. Schutz will be honored – along with Woman of the Year Karrin Taylor Robson and Inaugural Person of the Decade, Sen. John McCain – at the virtual 71st Annual Man and Woman of the Year event on Oct. 29.

RSVP now and get to know our 71st Man of the Year:

He knows how to make a garden grow. During his nearly 20-year tenure at the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) he has managed construction of $35 million in new facilities, initiated a number of exciting new education and research projects and raised more than $15 million in gifts and pledges for the Garden’s endowment. With a background in biology, he loves to teach and to garden, and that effort is being realized at two DBG-led community gardens in Phoenix that provide fresh produce to communities that live in food deserts. “I believe in museums serving. We serve the entire community,” he told the Phoenix Business Journal.

“I believe in museums serving. We serve the entire community.”

– Ken Schutz

He’s not great at keeping secrets – at least that was his marching order when the Desert Botanical Garden board selected him as its executive director to make sure the garden no longer remained Phoenix’s “best kept secret.” He’s made good on that, doubling local attendance, growing memberships threefold and attracting major art exhibits like that of blown-glass artist Dale Chihuly.

He’s helping museums around the country be their best. Schutz does that as a member of the board of the Institute for Museum and Library Services, which he was appointed to by President Barack Obama to help museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities.

He’s committed to protecting natural landscapes. Cacti are the fifth-most endangered lifeform on the planet, Schutz said, noting that people don’t often realize that plants are endangered and quickly disappearing from their native habitats. “Unfortunately, in the natural world, lots of things are getting rarer, and that’s true in the plant world as well,” Schutz told Arizona PBS. The garden is a place for people to see those plants and they are also working to repopulate these plants in the wild.

He loves plants – but he’s passionate about animals, too. Before joining the Desert Botanical Garden, he was director of marketing and development for the Baltimore Zoo and had a stint working as its teacher in residence – where he began leading safaris for zoo members. Now, when he takes a vacation, his aim is to see wildlife, and he’s gone on safari in East Africa 15 times.

Don’t miss the virtual 71st Annual Man and Woman of the Year event on Oct. 29: RSVP now.