Friends of the Public Garden 2020 Year in Review


  • Elizabeth Vizza
  • Robert Mulcahy
    Director of Parks Care
    and Capital Projects
  • Mary Halpin
    Director of Development through March 2020
  • Lynn Page Flaherty
    Vice President, Advancement and
    External Affairs, starting November 2020
  • Susan Abell
    Director of Communications
    and Outreach
  • Stephen TenBarge
    Finance Manager
    and Brewer Plaza Liaison
  • Eric DiTommaso
    Parks Care Specialist
  • Amanda Maguire
    Development Manager
  • Laura Mercure
    Executive Assistant
  • Hannah Williamson
    Development Associate
  • Jan Trousilek
    Communications, Outreach,
    and Design Associate

2020 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 Burnes*
  • Valerie Burns
  • Linda Cox
  • Kate Enroth**
  • Alex Hastings
  • Elizabeth Johnson*
  • Frank Mead*
  • Barbara Moore**
  • Beatrice Nessen
  • Katherine O’Keeffe*
  • Margaret Pokorny
  • Patricia Quinn
  • Anne Swanson**
  • Allan Taylor*


  • Jeanne Burlingame*
  • Jim Hood*
  • Sherley Smith


  • Ann K. Collier
  • Nina Doggett
  • Barbara Hostetter


  • Henry Lee


  • Deborah Babson
  • Pamela (Pam) Beale
  • Omar Blayton
  • Michael Broderick
  • Eugene (Gene) Clapp
  • Meredith Clapp
  • Daniel (Dan) Donahue*
  • Matt Dwyer
  • Alexis Egan
  • Joy Fallon
  • Tracy Flannery
  • Ramsay Fretz
  • Christine Hayward
  • James Hood (Jim), co-chair*
  • Barbara Hostetter
  • Chu Huang
  • Namrita Kapur
  • Sidney Kenyon
  • William (Bill) Kieffer
  • Tom Lewis*
  • James (Jim) May
  • Annsley McAleer
  • Tony Morris
  • Margaret (Meg) Morton
  • Lyn Paget, co-chair
  • Fred Putnam
  • Ailene Robinson (Pixie)
  • Diane Rooney
  • Roger Tackeff
  • Anthony Ursillo (Tony)
  • Martha (Marty) Walz
  • *term began in 2020
  • **term ended in 2020
portrait of Liz Vizza
portrait of Leslie Adam

Dear Friends,

As we look back at our 50th Anniversary year, we continue to be inspired by our vital mission, the generosity of our supporters, and the commitment of our staff. During these unprecedented and uncertain times, our parks are a constant source of renewal and joy, and it is caring people like you who have ensured that the Common, Garden, and Mall are always the healthy, beautiful oases and gathering places the community deserves. Thank you for helping us make meaningful progress toward our goals as we plan a strong future for the parks.

Friends like you have ensured time and time again that we are able to continue our essential care for the trees and lawns, sculptures and fountains, landscape improvements, and so much more. These parks at the heart of many neighborhoods downtown enhance the health and wellbeing of all who visit. As we explore the events of the past year, and take pride in the progress of the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial restoration project, we are reminded that we have the honor of working with a remarkably productive and rewarding partnership to restore this treasure and ensure that its legacy speaks to us today of the work of racial justice still to be done. The next time you are able to visit in person, take a moment with this, or any monument, to see its story anew. A moment taken with a nod towards the history we are all making today.

As we look forward to better days, your support for our parks is more important and impactful than ever before. Only together, as we enter our next 50 years of care and advocacy, can we ensure the health and lasting beauty of these parks.

With grateful appreciation,

Leslie S. Adam

Liz Vizza


2020: A Monumental Year

Captions, left to right: a Black Lives Matters rally at the Common’s Parkman Bandstand; the 1884 Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial’s bronze bas relief sculpture — the work of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens amidst conservation; the 1924 George Robert White Memorial’s allegorical bronze winged woman was restored with help from The Friends in 2007.

As much as things were different this past year, nature is unstoppable. So, too, is the human spirit. The gratitude we have for our public parks is stronger than ever, and we now know with certainty that parks nourish the soul in trying times.

When our lives were normal in the “before times,” we kicked off our 50th Anniversary, and the Friends and the City of Boston signed a landmark formal cooperation agreement to enhance the care of the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Then the pandemic hit suddenly, and we had to immediately develop a safe collaborative plan with the Parks Department to care for the parks and the people who work in them. Everyone on our teams quickly came together, and worked productively to ensure that our essential parks care work was moving forward safely.

Our work to restore the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial also paused, as Covid safety precautions were introduced. Working with our Partners the National Park Service, City of Boston, and Museum of African American History we were able to continue the dramatic removal of the bronze and surrounding stone from the site to conservation studios, and at the same time facilitate dynamic and well-attended virtual Community Conversations about race and social justice.

Our monuments in the Common, Garden, and Mall tell powerful stories — including those of abolitionists, suffragists, and people fighting for freedom and justice. We are grateful that the restoration of the Shaw 54th gives us the opportunity to lift up the voices of the 54th Regiment, and be inspired by their story. At the same time, we are committed to scrutinizing our monuments and finding creative ways to confront problematic narratives as well as lift up untold ones.

As we learned to live with social distancing and masks, spring progressed in the parks and people sought them as healing oases of nature in a difficult time. When the weather warmed, we started seeing people enjoying socially distanced sunbathing and dinner on lawn chairs or blankets on the Mall, proud parents taking photos of their graduating seniors by the Public Garden lagoon bridge, and people gathering for yet another event to support Black Lives Matter on the Common. It was inspiring to see the Common be sought after as a place to speak truth to power. America’s first park has always been a place for celebration and protest, and this year in the wake of George Floyd’s murder it was more important than ever.

Time and again, we have found the continued isolation we experience in this pandemic can be eased by the beauty and respite of the Common, the Garden, and the Mall. As the brilliant colors of fall merged into the stark beauty of winter, the parks embraced children sledding, dogs playing in the snow, and people enjoying daily walks in the beautiful crisp air.

This past year has seen immeasurable loss, and tested us in new ways. Through it all, we have seen how inextricably linked these parks are with the people who love them. Together, parks and people are at the heart of our city. These three havens of natural beauty are more important than ever. We need them, and they need us to care and advocate for them, now and always.

OPERATING RESULTS (in thousands)

INCOME 2020 2019
Support $1,548 $1,836
Public Programs & Revenue 112 218
Draw on Invested Funds 804 744
Release of Temporarily Restricted Funds 600 770
Total Income $3,064 $3,568
Parks Care:
Common, Garden & Mall $680 $1,311
Public Programs 328 291
Personnel & Overhead 565 550
Total Parks Care $1,573 $2,152
Communications & Development:
Communications $36 $61
Development Events 8 140
Personnel & Overhead 678 377
Total Communications & Development: $722 $578
Administration: $187 $221
Total Expenses: $2,482 $2,951
Transfer to Temporarily Restricted Funds $(580) $(600)
Net Surplus $2 $17

statements of financial position (in thousands)

ASSETS 2020 2019
Current Assets:
Cash & Cash Equivalents $638 $711
Pledges & Accounts Receivable 334 173
Prepaid Expenses 36 30
Total Current Assets $1,008 $914
Investments $27,620 $25,330
Property & Equipment 703 747
Performance Deposit 35 35
Total Assets $29,366 $27,026
Accounts Payable & Accruals $310 $543
Mortgage Payable 165 209
Pilot Bathrooms (fiscal agent) 1,093 1,093
Total Liabilities $1,568 $1,845
Net Assets:
Unrestricted $6,138 $6,074
Temporarily Restricted 6,138 4,904
Permanently Restricted 14,744 14,181
Total Net Assets $27,798 $25,181
Total Liabilities & Net Assets $29,366 $27,026

Friends of the Public Garden, Inc.

Notes to Operating Results and Statements of Financial Position

Operating Results

Total Income was $3.1 million in 2020, 14% lower than the $3.6 million received in 2019. Support, which consists of Membership, Designated and Undesignated Contributions, Bequests, and Special Event proceeds, was 16% lower than the previous year primarily due to the cancelation of the Green & White Gala. Sponsorships for Benches and Trees were down 25% compared to 2019, but we still exceeded budget for those programs in 2020. In spite of economic conditions resulting from the pandemic, Membership Renewals came in 4% higher than in 2019. The Duckling Day and Making History on the Common events went virtual and Brewer Fountain Plaza programming was cancelled. The rolling three-year average of our investments, measured at September 30, 2019 for the 2020 draw, increased from $18.6 million to $20.1 million. Income from Temporarily Restricted Assets decreased due to a smaller pool of funds available from the previous year.

Total Expenses for 2020 were 16% lower than in 2019 offsetting the decrease in Income. Parks Care spending came in 48% lower compared to the previous year, but we were still able to meet our goal of providing essential tree, soil and turf care work and some sculpture maintenance in the parks. Spending on Public Programs was higher due to the 50th anniversary temporary art project on the Common, which will be installed in the fall of 2021. In Development, while we saved the expenses of the canceled Green & White Gala, we added the cost of having a consultant provide development and 50th anniversary capital campaign help after the departure of our Development Director early in 2020. The consultant also led a successful search for a new Vice President of Advancement & External Affairs. The decrease in Administration resulted primarily from the cancellation of the in-person Annual Meeting and a reduction in office operations. We transferred $580,000 to Temporarily Restricted Funds for tree work in the three parks and 50th anniversary projects in 2021. We ended the year with a small Net Surplus.

Statements of Financial Position

Investment performance for 2020 was 14%, in line with our benchmark. Our performance remains in the top 25% of the Cambridge Associates universe of endowments of less than $100 million. The increase in Pledges Receivable was due to pledges made for the 50th anniversary capital campaign. The decrease in Accounts Payable was due to payments made to Shaw/54th Memorial project contractors. Lastly, we are acting as the fiscal agent for a $1.5 million grant from a charitable trust for a multi-year pilot program to bring temporary public restrooms to the Boston Common. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 season was cancelled so no grant money was spent.

a place of growth
a beckoning landscape
pattern of life
a place of renewal
a place of discovery
beloved ducklings
an encounter with nature
a place of assembly
a green passage
a heart of green
ever resilliant
a season of transition
autumn light
a place of brilliance
ever changing
ever welcoming
autumn tapestry
novembers civic call
the season turns
holiday lights
mall alight
winter beauty
a new cycle