GNPS Strategic Planning — 2019 and Beyond

This page is dedicated to keeping our members informed on our progress to broaden the reach of the Georgia Native Plant Society into a true statewide organization.

How We Got Here

In 2015, GNPS developed a robust and aggressive two-year Strategic Plan. Much of this plan was implemented, but progress on key points slowed, particularly a goal to transition to a statewide Board of Directors and to create one or more Atlanta area chapters. Since that time, due to global concerns over pollinator and wildlife decline, climate change, water quality and other issues, the general public is more sharply focused on the use of native plants. People are increasingly aware that they should plant native, reduce exotic plant use and remove invasive plants. GNPS is contacted daily by homeowners, educators, local governments, and allied organizations seeking information and assistance to create native plant habitats.

Rest assured, GNPS is doing good work, but we are not well-positioned to fully respond to and leverage this immense interest in native plants. We must work strategically, not reactively. We are blessed with strong leaders but need more to step up. We have many willing volunteers but need better organization to effectively use them. We must set a strong conservation example through focused, strategic leadership to have a true statewide reach.

Most of all, we need more chapters statewide to spread GNPS across Georgia and to renew a grassroots approach to native plant activism. With more active, vibrant chapters we can recruit new members, level volunteer workloads, and keep everyone engaged and fresh. We must help GNPS function better as well as make it easier to start and run a chapter. Growing GNPS is the only way we will teach more people to love Georgia’s native plants, conserve natural habitats, and do our part to preserve the environment of our state and world.

2019 Strategic Planning Task Force Goals

The 2019 GNPS Board of Directors established a Strategic Planning Task Force to plan our move to the next level. After much consideration, rather than re-write the 2015 Strategic Plan, the Task Force chose to focus initially on:

  • By-law revisions to accommodate a state-level governance board, which will define strategic vision and directly support chapter activities, and
  • Work toward streamlining chapter development and operations.

Proposed By-Law Revisions (passed on November 12, 2019)

New by-laws have been drafted (read them here) and the membership will vote on them at the annual business meeting on November 12th. These by-laws will establish the state-level governing board and pave the way for one or more new chapters to form immediately, particularly in the Atlanta area, or in other areas of the state where interest and commitment are strong. 

2020 State Board of Directors Slate (elected on November 12, 2019)

Under the new state board structure, a Governance Committee will be established to serve as a permanent nominating committee. Members of this committee will continually recruit and cultivate future members of the board of directors. For the initial state board slate, the Strategic Planning Task Force fulfilled this role of nominating committee and has worked to recruit the first state board. Members at the November meeting elected the slate of new State Board directors, listed alphabetically below.

  • Michele Buchanan
  • Tom Collins
  • Lori Conway
  • Leslie Edwards
  • Amy Heidt
  • Ellen Honeycutt
  • Marc LaFountain
  • Ron Smith
  • Henning von Schmeling

The State Board will bolster and craft new strategic partnerships throughout the state. The Directors will form six committees: Education, Conservation, Membership, Finance, Audit, and Governance. Through the work of these committees and working extensively with the chapters, the state board will set policies and goals, which each chapter will implement. We need many Society members from around the state to serve on these committees. This will ensure statewide voices are represented and cohesive statewide policies are adopted to best serve our members and native plant habitats. Read more at our FAQ page regarding state vs. chapter activities.

We look forward to working with you all in 2020 as we step into our new roles. We appreciate any amount of time and talent you can give, either at the chapter or state level. Reach out to the new board by emailing

The State Board will elect its officers at the first meeting, and we will announce those immediately. Work is already ongoing to transition duties from the previous board structure to the new one. In the meantime, we will communicate regularly on the progress and activities. You can also check the website for news and the calendar for events around the state. Follow us and our chapter pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

How You Can Help

While the Task Force and Board are working hard on this next step, we need your help, too.  Specifically, we need two things:

  1. Will you consider serving on a working group that would help form one or more new chapters around Atlanta, or in another area of Georgia? These working groups will be essential to ensure continuity of programming and current activities during our transition, plus recruit and elect new officers with support from the state board. (Note: Serving on the working board does not mean you are obligated to be an officer of that new chapter.)
  2. Let us hear from you! We offered a brief member survey earlier this fall, and  we have used your survey input to build a “Frequently Asked Questions” handout (see link below). If you have a question, chances are others do, too. Please participate!


Have more questions about our strategic planning efforts and what the change means for members? Read our FAQ here.  Or write to us at

The 2019 Strategic Planning Task Force:

Lori Conway, Chair
Melanie Bass Pollard, Member
Flo Hayes, Member
Ellen Honeycutt, Member
Henning von Schmeling, Member
Kate Baltzell, Adviser
Lane Conville-Canney, Adviser


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