"Dr. Hefferan has outstanding leadership skills and extensive outreach experience that will prove invaluable to the Arboretum," said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which operates the arboretum. "She will ensure the continued success of the arboretum's world-renowned plant collections and research activities."
Hefferan currently serves as advisor to the director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Prior to that, she was administrator of USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES). She also served as associate administrator and acting administrator of CSREES before being appointed administrator in 2000.
"The arboretum is a treasure for the American people," said Dr. Cathie Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "Dr. Hefferan will prove instrumental in preserving this treasure while leading it into the future and continuing its mission of research, education and conservation."
As director, Hefferan will lead a special review and assessment of the future direction of the arboretum. Focusing on a strategy for sustainability, the assessment will look into alternative funding models and expansion of private support of the arboretum. Ramon Jordan, who has been serving as acting director of the arboretum, will continue to serve as a key advisor to Hefferan on scientific and management issues.
Hefferan began working for USDA in 1979 as an economist with the ARS Family Economics Research Group. She transferred to the Cooperative State Research Service in 1988, where she served as deputy administrator for Natural Resources, Food and Social Sciences. She joined CSREES when it was first established in 1994 as the deputy administrator for Competitive Research, Grants and Awards Management.
She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Illinois and a B.S. from the University of Arizona. Before joining USDA, Hefferan was a research fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland and an assistant professor of behavioral economics at Pennsylvania State University.
The U.S. National Arboretum, which encompasses more than 440 acres of land in northeast Washington and also has worksites in Beltsville, Md., and McMinnville, Tenn., is one of the world's premier woody plant research facilities and public gardens. The arboretum was established by Congress in 1927 to serve the public need for scientific research, education and gardens that conserve and showcase plants that enhance the environment. More than 475,000 people each year visit the arboretum's plant collections and participate in events and education programs.