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40 Under Forty: Grace Elton, 37

8/20/2018

CEO
Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston

Lives: Worcester
Birthplace: Cincinnati
Colleges: University of Delaware, University of Florida

Elton took over at Tower Hill in April 2017 and didn't take long to update an institution through its parent organization, the Worcester County Horticultural Society, dates to 1842. Elton helped lead Tower Hill to its most successful fundraising year, raising more than $5 million, and its highest annual attendance at 140,000. Tower Hill had a record number of people – more than 9,000 – taught in its education programs last year, and her acquisition of 39 acres to the garden's footprint was the largest expansion at Tower Hill in more than two decades. Elton is among the youngest heads in the country of a large botanical garden, but the task doesn't feel foreign to someone whose parents met while working at Everglades National Park in Florida. Perhaps with help from a memory of walking among rows of orange trees growing up, Elton has taken to the industry, having led Temple University's Philadelphia Flower Show exhibits in 2009-2011, and served as the director of horticulture for the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. Elton serves on Worcester Cultural Coalition's board and chairs its governance committee. 

From 40 Under Forty judge Milka Njoroge: “Grace is an innovative leader who is committed to the community, creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds to connect with and enjoy nature.”

What is the best advice you've ever gotten? My grandma Grace Rudig told me to travel as much as possible to see the world and learn about other cultures.

When they eventually build a statue of you, what will the inscription say? Grace Elton created beauty and inspired people to love plants, gardening and the natural world. 
Read about the entire 2018 Class of 40 Under Forty
Michael Alden - Ascentria Care Alliance
Che Anderson - City of Worcester
Victor M. Archila - VMA Electric Inc.
Allison Beckler, DO - YOU, Inc.
Sam Bitar - Webster Five
Mark A. Borenstein - Seder & Chandler LLP
Kate D. Campanale - Massachusetts House of Representatives
Derek Canton - paerpay
Ryan Canuel - Petricore, Inc.
Jennifer Caron - Body Therapeutics
Danielle J. Clark - Clark Career Coaching
Heidi Cooper - Cooper’s Hilltop Farm
Matthew M. Copeland, P.E. - Copeland Building Envelope Consulting
Pat Davis - The DAVIS Cos.
Efua T. Dufu, MSW, LCSW - Ellite Event Planning
Grace Elton - Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Ursula Furi-Perry, J.D. - Becker College
Jared E. Gentilucci - Nitsch Engineering
David Gilchrist, MD, MBA - UMass Memorial Health Care
Alvara Gjylapi - Santander Bank
Erica Grinkis - The GazBar Sports Grill
Meredith Harris - Marlborough Economic Development Corp.
Erin Jansky - Worcester Housing Authority
Ben Jones - Boston Scientific Corp
Alexis Kelleher - Crust Bakeshop; North Main Provisions
Bert LaValley - Sustainable Comfort, Inc.; deadhorse hill & simjang restaurants
Jennifer Leger - Fidelity Bank
Brian Lemerise - Quiet Logistics, Inc.
Tom Lubelczyk - The Worcester Jazz Collective
Laura Marotta - Creative Hub Worcester
Ryan Matson - Small Business Insurance Agency
Michael P. McDonough, CPA - McDonough, McDonough & Corsini, LLP
Madeline Mendoza - NewVue Communities
Jessica Morris - MCPHS University
Nathan Oriol - Oakdale Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center (Oriol Health Care)
Nicholas Pelletier - Pelletier Properties at Keller Williams North Central
Courtney E. Pelley - Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center
Lilian Radke - Unic Pro Inc.
Blaine Schnare - Harrington HealthCare System
Bonnie J. Walker - Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Learn how the winners were picked on our judges' page.