Old Westbury Gardens select Costopulos as new president

Harrison Marder

Old Westbury Gardens nationwide search for a new leader has come to end.

On Nov. 10, the board of trustees unanimously selected Nancy Costopulos as the next president and CEO of the former estate of John Shaffer Phipps.

“I am so honored, pleased and excited,” Costopulos said. “[This] is the privilege of my whole career so far. I’m thrilled.”

Having already worked for the Los Angeles Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Gardens for 24 years, Costopulos said she wants to bring the experience she gained from working at those non-profit organizations to a “high quality cultural institution.”

“We’re thrilled to have a new leader whose talents will help elevate the historical significance of Old Westbury Gardens as well as the visitor experience,” said Carol Large, chairman of the gardens’ board of trustees.

Costopulos said she wants to create a master sight plan which she described as a “long-term vision” for the future of Old Westbury Gardens, which has been open to the public since 1959.

This master sight plan, she said, would allow key stakeholders, board members, and members of the community to create a future for Old Westbury Gardens based on their input.

“[Old Westbury Gardens is] a 100-plus year old property,” she said. “[I] want it to be around. [We should be] thinking long term. I want to be sure that we have all the proper inputs.”

Most recently, Costopulos was the chief marketing officer for the American Marketing Association based in Chicago.

While in that role, Costopulos said, she was responsible for strategic marketing and was part of the leadership team.

Her background in marketing and management, Costopulos said, relates directly to creating new and better marketing initiatives for events and membership and education programs at Old Westbury Gardens.

“I think my marketing background will be very beneficial,” she said.

Costopulos is replacing John Norbeck, who retired in July after nine years as president of Old Westbury Gardens.

Norbeck, Costopulos said, had a lot of experience, and she wants to make sure that the work he and staff completed during his tenure will be “honored and preserved.”

“I do feel like I have big shoes to fill,” she said. “Norbeck and [his] staff have done a terrific job.”

Costopulos will begin her new position at Old Westbury Gardens on Dec. 7.

Old Westbury Gardens is the home of the Westbury House, a 44-room Charles-II style mansion completed in 1906.

The 200-acre grounds are the former estate of businessman John S. Phipps and his family.

Phipps’ Charles II-style mansion is nestled amid 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes, according to the gardens’ website.  Westbury House is furnished with fine English antiques and decorative arts from the more than fifty years of the family’s residence.

“[Old Westbury Gardens] is one of very few mansions and preservation properties left on Long Island,” Costopulos said. “Preserving the property is so important. The gardens are some of the most beautiful in the country. People must come in order to understand how important it is to preserve this property.

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Harrison Marder

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