As her Board service draws to a close on June 30, 2024, it is with deep gratitude that all of us at the Arboretum acknowledge the unparalleled leadership of Dr. Cullen Geiselman Muse. Cullen first joined the Arboretum’s Board of Directors in 2010 and later was appointed President in 2021. During her tenure, the Arboretum saw the completion of the Master Plan – one that enabled the Arboretum to expand its built spaces, restore tens of acres of native Gulf Coast habitat, and debut new educational facilities through the Where the Wild Things Grow Capital Campaign. Immediately on the heels of the Campaign, Cullen guided the Arboretum through its first Strategic Plan, completed in September 2023. This vital plan is driving the Arboretum’s efforts to expand the quality, impact, and access to conservation and education programming; creating opportunities to deepen engagement with Houstonians, and investing in further organizational capacity that will allow the Arboretum to thrive in its next great chapter.

In addition to her brilliant work on the Master Plan and Strategic Plan, Cullen was part of the leadership team that helped the Arboretum navigate unchartered territory during the Pandemic. It is because of her unwavering support, commitment, and guidance that the Arboretum was able to successfully maneuver the Covid-19 crisis and position itself to serve as a place of comfort and respite during such a difficult and unprecedented moment in our collective history.

As we honor Cullen and her countless contributions to the Arboretum, we know we are not saying goodbye, but rather, “See you soon!” as we plan to see her and her family often on the trails, doing what she does best – celebrating the beauty of the natural world around her with deep knowledge, genuine care, and a warm smile for all who are fortunate enough to cross her path. It is because of Cullen that the Arboretum is better positioned than ever before to execute its mission of providing education to people of all ages and enhancing its grounds as a haven and as a sanctuary for native plants and animals. Thank you, Cullen!

Get to know Cullen in 6 Questions

  1. What are you most proud of when you reflect upon your Board service?

    I am so proud of being a part of the thoughtful group of people who initiated the Master Plan after the devastation of Hurricane Ike in 2008 and the drought of 2011 pushed us to consider what the grounds were naturally inclined to be: savanna and prairie.
  2. What is your favorite memory of the Arboretum during your tenure?

    Though I have spent lots of happy moments walking the grounds and enjoying the natural sights and sounds of the Arboretum, my favorite memory has to be my wedding in 2022 when family and friends joined us for a lovely ceremony on the Event Lawn and reception in the Nature Center Courtyard. Happiest day of my life!
  3. If someone has never visited the Arboretum before, what would you insist they do or see while here?

    I invite all visitors to walk through the Donor Boardwalk, link up with the Outer Loop, walk past the Meadow and then on to the Couch Birding Trail that overlooks Buffalo Bayou. This short walk gives a person the perfect opportunity to see the many different ecosystems at the Arboretum and experience the diverse flora and fauna.
  4. What makes the Arboretum special as it relates to other outdoor spaces in Houston?

    Unlike other outdoor parks and venues, the Arboretum has a diverse array of native habitats of southeastern Texas and is located a mere 6 miles from downtown Houston. The dual mission of active landscape restoration and experiential education make the Arboretum one of a kind, open to casual visitors, K-12 students on field trips, wildlife photographers, conservation practitioners, and so many more. There’s nothing else like it!
  5. What’s your favorite annual program or event at the Arboretum?

    Of course, my favorite event is Bat Fest followed by an evening bat walk. The Arboretum is home to at least 4 species of bats and you can witness their nightly forays at dusk. The best viewing location is the Meadow and Meadow Pond.
  6. We hear you have a new puppy at home – has she come out to walk the trails yet?

    Willie has not yet been to the Arboretum because we’d like to spare visitors and wildlife her puppy antics, but she will be coming on her first visit with her brother when she settles down and can walk patiently on a leash. I know she is going to love it!