June 15, 2010
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO executive director
What is your job description at LO?Essentially my job is to implement member direction and to assist the members in growing a prosperous, professional, ethical, recognized, respected and valued industry. In that role, I have referred to myself as the “official observer and listener.” I am constantly trying to filter all of my interactions with members to arrive at a common understanding of the relevant priorities that will advance the LO family. I am also responsible for supporting an amazing group of professional and service-oriented staff members who “own” the vision and mission of the association. Go to this link www.horttrades.com/role-of-executive-director for a detailed description of the executive director’s role.
What is your background before coming to LO, and when did you begin work at LO?Before coming to work for Landscape Ontario, I was the coordinator of the Landscape Technology Program at Humber College. Before that, I was a grower/horticulturist working for Centennial Park Conservatory. One of my first jobs at the Conservatory was to label all the plants. You can still see the plant tags I produced almost 30 years ago. In addition to my role as grower, I hosted a local TV show called Etobigrow. Kathy McLean, in our home office, somehow got a hold of a VHS tape of one of the episodes. She refuses to give me a copy. I have fears of it appearing on YouTube. I also wrote weekly articles for the Etobicoke Guardian. At one time I was a regular contributor of garden articles to Canadian Press.
I graduated from the Landscape Technology program at Humber College in 1978. Bob Tubby and his wife Mitzi were classmates. Other notable alumni include Rita Weerdenburg, Bob Allen and Harold Deenen.
In the summer of 1989 (almost 21 years ago) I received a fateful call from the then President Neil Vanderkruk, who offered me the job of executive director. At first I said no. I thoroughly enjoyed my job at Humber College and had no idea what an executive director did. As a teacher, I felt it important to participate and contribute to the industry association and was serving as a volunteer on the promotion committee. I did not fully understand what Landscape Ontario was all about. Neil persisted.
I told Dean Carl Eriksen about the job offer. I will always remember him fondly for his advice. He urged me to try the job for a year. He would hold my position. If it did not work out, he believed I would only be a better teacher for the experience. The only condition was that I had to replace myself. I recommended Harry Chang, who is still there. He was much better at the job than I ever was. He has contributed a good part of his life as a wonderful role model for hundreds of students, imparting his enthusiasm and raising the level of competency, skill and professionalism in the industry.