President's Council on Inclusion and Diversity

Today’s President’s Council on Inclusion and Diversity began as a diversity committee that was established by the Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG) Board in October 2003. It was prompted by a group of Ruffner Middle School Academy (NPS) students who formed a club, International Problem Solvers. They looked for a community problem to solve and asked NBG permission to look into its diversity as it related to attendance, employment, events, etc. Some were concerned that the Garden did not represent the City of Norfolk and surrounding cities that it served. They designed a project with the assistance of the Garden’s Department of Education and Public Relations titled D.I.R.T. – DIGGING INTO REPRESSED TIMES.

  • The NBG was placed on the Virginia Historical Register June 2004  (Cheryl White, graduate student at ODU used NBG as her thesis project. Her work and the students’ inspired her to present to the VA and USA historical society)
  • The NBG was placed on the National Historical Register in July 2005
  • September 2008 – the WPA Memorial Garden Ground Breaking Ceremony   (At the original 25 acre site named the WPA Memorial Garden)
  • April 2009 – the WPA Memorial Garden Sculpture – “Breaking Ground” unveiled by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Ferguson, an original gardener, and the theme garden officially opened
  • April 2010 – 1st WPA Heritage Celebration to be held annually to honor the garden’s heritage
  • May 2013 – celebrated the 75th Anniversary of NBG with Maya Angelou as guest celebrity
  • July 2014 – Michael P. Desplaines, introduced as President and CEO NBG
  • September 2014 – the President’s Committee on Inclusion and Diversity replaced the Diversity Committee and continued the work
  • February 2016 – the Norfolk Public Library honored the WPA Gardeners
  • May 2016 – Norfolk City Arts Commission unveiled a public arts sculpture – “Intertwine” at the gate of NBG to honor the WPA workers
  • May 2016 – the first “Ground Breakers Awards”
  • July 2021 – Clenise Platt was elected as NBG Board of Director Chair.
  • In 2021 – NBG board became the most diverse board in the Garden’s history with 33 percent of the board members from under represented communities.

Committee MEMBERS

  • Clenise Platt – Chair
  • Ann Stokes
  • Ardell McCoy
  • Betsy Murphy
  • Candy Hayes
  • Chadra Pittman
  • Dee Hall
  • Helen Ferguson
  • Kimberlie Pertrulis
  • LaMont Henry
  • Martha M. Williams – Garden Historian
  • Paulette Benson
  • Paulvin Brown
  • Ramona Farrow

NBG Garden History

WPA Memorial Project

PCID Scholarship