3 Questions with Matthew Stephens

August 3, 2021

Just before the Independence Day holiday, the Board of Trustees unanimously selected Matthew Stephens to be our 14th President and CEO. Matthew will begin his new role in September. Below, learn more about Matthew and his vision for Mount Auburn Cemetery.

What drew you to a career leading horticulture programs in public spaces?

“There have been a series of events that led me down a path to Mount Auburn. Since I was young, I always had an interest in plants. One of my earliest memories in life at the age of four was when I picked up a long branch that had blown off a big tree in a windstorm and I stuck it into the soil, thinking it would grow into a tree. It was a big failure. I now know why. This moment was the beginnings of my discovery and inspiration of plants, and the power that they had over me. Since then, all my career choices have revolved around using plants in public spaces to inspire. Mount Auburn is a natural next step.”

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

“To date, my proudest moment has been helping to lead and complete MillionTreesNYC. One million trees is an incredible accomplishment anywhere, but further bolstered by completing this massive achievement in one of the most complex urban areas as it relates to infrastructure/logistics, diversity of communities, and the ever present unexpected (and at times unbelievable) surprises New York City always presents. I am also extremely proud of my work in San Francisco, and how much I was able to accomplish in a short period of time to elevate and enhance the three Gardens of Golden Gate Park.”

What do you see as your biggest challenge or opportunity as the next president of Mount Auburn Cemetery?

“Great question – perhaps the biggest challenge and opportunity will be to continue the traditions that were started by the founders of Mount Auburn when they reimagined what cemeteries could be. The incredible horticulture, unique programming and leadership in environmental sustainability make for a great mixture of elements for future success. These elements will need to be woven together carefully to further evolve Mount Auburn Cemetery into a locally cherished and international renowned cultural institution.”

We look forward to welcoming Matthew to our community this fall and will keep you updated on the transition and chances to meet Matthew yourself. In the meantime, we encourage you to join or renew your Friends of Mount Auburn membership.


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