Élan Alford, Ph.D, is the plant conservation scientist at Mt. Cuba Center. She coordinates volunteer research, including rare plant monitoring. Prior to joining Mt. Cuba, Élan worked in environmental consulting and has volunteered as Rare Plant Chair for the California Native Plant Society Santa Clara Valley Chapter.
Liz Allen is an Educator at Mt. Cuba Center and a Delaware Master Naturalist with the University of Delaware. She provides gardening consultations to local homeowners and schools who are looking to diversify and improve their landscape value with native plants. Liz is also the grounds manager for a school, and has converted the entire property to native plants for children to study and enjoy. She also leads groups in invasive removal efforts, as well as creating public plantings. Liz is passionate about restoring nature's balance by actively influencing plant communities.
Kathy Andrzejewski (MEd, HT) is a certified Horticulture Therapist. She earned her certification through the Chicago Botanic Garden and is also a Delaware Master Naturalist. She enjoys using her knowledge to have people of all ages experience the health and wellness benefits that result from engaging with nature.
Lee Armillei, APLD, is the principal landscape designer with Athyrium Design and has 10+ years of design-build-maintenance experience. She holds a BS in Ornamental Horticulture and Environmental Design from Delaware Valley University and designs carefully curated residential landscapes steeped in environmentally friendly practices.
Susan Barton, PhD, is an extension specialist and professor in the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Delaware. She helped develop the Plants for a Livable Delaware program and, in 2015, received the Land Ethics Award in the residential category from Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve for her work on a sustainable demonstration project in New Castle County.
Nancy Bell is the Education and Garden Coach Coordinator at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin. She has Certificates of Merit in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from Longwood Gardens.
Kelly Billing is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist with more than 32 years of experience in the water gardening industry. She compiled and maintains the Aquatic Plant Invasive Species List for the nursery trade and is coauthor of The Water Gardener’s Bible and The Lotus: Know It and Grow It.
Leah Blanton is a planting designer and horticulturist, using her artistic eye and plant knowledge to create functional urban landscapes for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, where she designs a diverse range of public horticulture projects in Philadelphia. She co-owns an ecological garden design company and earned her certificate of Sustainable Garden Design from the New York Botanical Garden.
Eileen Boyle is the former Director of Conservation and Research at Mt. Cuba Center. She loves teaching, especially about plants and their relationships with birds and butterflies. Previously, she was the Director of Horticulture at the Philadelphia Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden.
Emma Brittain is a studio artist and planning committee member for Black Birders Week. Her art often involves social commentary with animal or plant symbolism. She hopes to spread wonder and hope through her work.
Leah Brooks is Mt. Cuba Center’s Public Programs Assistant. She is a University of Delaware graduate with dual bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science and Wildlife Ecology. Her passion is sharing the joy of nature and native gardening with others.
Karin Burghardt, PhD is an assistant professor in the Entomology Department at the University of Maryland and a research associate at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Karin received her M.S. and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University and her B.S. from the University of Delaware in 2007, working with Douglas Tallamy. Trained as a community ecologist, she specializes in understanding plant-insect interactions in human-modified landscapes ranging from suburban yards to abandoned agricultural fields to managed forests.
Sean Camilleri is a senior horticulturist for the Woods Path and Trillium Garden at Mt. Cuba. He has a degree in horticulture from Ohio State University and several years working experience in public gardens in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Jenny Rose Carey is a lifelong educator, garden author, and former public garden director. She is a practical, hands-on gardener who gardens on over four acres in Ambler, PA. She is also a garden historian with a specialty in women in gardens, and English and American gardens.
Beth Castelletti is a Horticulturist working in the Upper and Middle Naturalistic gardens at Mt. Cuba Center. Prior to this, she spent three years as a Seasonal Horticulturists’ Assistant rotating in several areas of MCC. She earned a degree in Sustainable Horticulture from the Community College of Baltimore County.
Jeffrey “Doc” Cheskin has been making ciders for over a decade and has won some of the highest honors given to a cidermaker in the US, including producing one of the top 15 ciders in America in 2020. He founded Liquid Alchemy Beverages in 2012 with his partner Terri Sorantino, and their hard ciders are now available in over 20 locations throughout Delaware.
George Coombs, director of horticulture at Mt. Cuba, leads a team of horticulturists, arborists, and grounds maintenance technicians who cultivate and improve formal and naturalistic gardens and play a pivotal role in the implementation of Mt. Cuba’s long-range master plan. He holds a degree in Plant Science from the University of Delaware with a focus in landscape horticulture.
Jules Davis is an art teacher and gardener. She holds a BA in Studio Art from the College of Wooster, and is currently pursuing in M.Ed. in Art Education at Tyler School of Art. Jules has over twelve years of horticulture experience and brings her combined passion for ecology and education to everything she does. Her favorite native flower to spot in the spring is rue anemone.
Nicole DeLizzio is the Arborist Assistant at the Mt. Cuba Center. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources and a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. With a combined passion for trees and art, she has deep dived into the art of pyrography and wood burns frequently.
Lucy Dinsmore is a horticulturist and certified arborist who loves learning and teaching about all things growing. She worked in public gardens for ten years, at the Morris Arboretum and Chanticleer Gardens, and now runs Plant Lady Lucy, a garden design and consulting business in Kennett Square. Her first job as a young tween was at a garden center, and she later earned her master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota.
Susan Dixon is the perennial plant buyer and department manager at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, DE. She has attended classes ornamental horticulture at New York Botanical Garden and is currently earning her certificate of merit at Longwood. She has a passion for wildlife and the native plants that support them.
Kathy Elliot works as an Educator at Mt. Cuba Center. She has bachelor’s degrees in Plant Science and English from the University of Delaware and earned a Certificate of Merit in Landscape Design from Longwood Gardens. She worked for fifteen years at a family-owned, plant-focused garden center in south-central Pennsylvania, where she multi-tasked between landscape design and garden center management.
David Greaves is a biologist at the EPA, wildlife photographer, and founder of Nature Under Your Nose (NUYN) brand. His love for nature and the outdoors was discovered while growing up in the Washington, D.C. area. He uses his photography and his NUYN brand to encourage people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds to explore and enjoy the nature they can find all around them.
Eileen Hazard, community outreach coordinator at Mt. Cuba Center, enjoys sharing her passion for ecosystems, plants, and the natural sciences with students of all ages and with local communities. Eileen earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, with a focus on environmental engineering, from Lafayette College and a master’s degree in Water Resources from the University of Vermont. She has supplemented her degrees with plant-focused biology classes at West Chester University and a PA Master Naturalist certification. Prior to joining the Mt. Cuba Center team in 2014, Eileen worked in environmental consulting and education.
Mark Highland received an MS from the Longwood Graduate Program, focusing on compost and potting soil. He is the founder and president of The Organic Mechanic Soil Company, LLC, a local supplier of organic, peat free soils. Mark is the author of Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally.
Duncan Himmelman, PhD, is the former Education Manager at Mt. Cuba Center. He earned his doctorate in Ornamental Horticulture at Cornell University, taught college for 24 years, and has contributed to a number of horticultural publications. Duncan managed a 20-acre estate in Greenwich, CT and has designed landscapes for both private and public clients in New York City, Toronto, and Chicago.
Sam Hoadley is the Manager of Horticultural Research at Mt. Cuba Center where he evaluates native plant species, old and new cultivars, and hybrids in the Trial Garden. Prior to working at Mt. Cuba, he was the lead horticulturist for Longwood Gardens’ Hillside Garden. He earned his degree in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture from the University of Vermont.
Diane Keesee has a passion for creating interesting signature cocktails, spirit infusions, shrubs, and bitters, using unique seasonal ingredients. She has been involved in hospitality management and the beverage industry for more than 20 years, including having worked for Greenville Country Club and Vicmead Hunt Club.
Scott Kelley is the Head Arborist at Mt. Cuba Center. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist® and qualified tree risk assessor.
Olivia Kirkpatrick is a designer at GreenWeaver Landscapes, a design-build company providing ecological landscape design, construction, and gardening to southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. Olivia worked in public gardens for several years before returning to landscape design with a renewed interest in landscape management and sustainability. They are particularly interested in artistic planting design, taking cues from native plant communities and environments. They hold a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Delaware.
Jay is a Mt. Cuba Center educator. Before coming to Mt. Cuba, he spent twenty years as a college instructor, and working with his wife at her family business, Hill House Herb Gardens in Providence, RI. In addition to being the luckiest boy in the world to spend his days with guests marveling at Mt. Cuba's gardens, he shares his enthusiasm for native plants outside Mt. Cuba's gates as the co-horticulturist and Rancocas chapter leader for the Native Plant Society of NJ, and as a native plant garden designer and landscaper.
Ellen Lake, PhD, is the Director of Conservation and Research at Mt. Cuba Center. She taught environmental education and was the Education Director at the Brandywine and Red Clay Valley Associations. Ellen has a master’s degree in Entomology and Ph.D. in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware, where she researched biological control of mile-a-minute weed and how to integrate weed management techniques to restore plant communities. Ellen has extensive experience researching insect-plant interactions, including work for the USDA in the Greater Everglades ecosystem.
Jessica Lewis, CPT, CNC, is an accredited T’ai Chi Chih instructor, personal trainer, and nutritional counselor. Sculpt Your Life, her private practice, provides a unique blend of customized exercise routines, solid nutritional advice, and movement-based relaxation principles for a diverse population of clients.
Monica Lopez is a proud Mexican visual artist. Ever since she was little, textures and colors of all sorts were a big part of how she viewed life. She uses her art to reflect on the person she is inside, showcase her feelings and emotions, and express her deep love for her roots and her heritage. By sharing her art, Monica helps others explore her rich culture in the hope that they fall in love with it too. Monica works with Healing Through the Arts at the Delaware Art Museum as an instructor for the Latin community.
Lynn Mahaffy, PhD, earned her doctorate in Natural Resources (Wildlife Conservation) at Cornell University. She currently teaches courses for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware, including Environmental Biology, General Ecology, and her favorite, Field Ecology, which exposes students to all the fascinating organisms and habitats surrounding us.
William McAvoy is Delaware’s state botanist. He extensively studied and published on the flora and habitats of the state. He is the lead author on a comprehensive native plant resource, Flora of Delaware Online Database.
Rob Medicus has served as a Delaware Master Gardener since 1994. He loves creating and delivering horticultural workshops. Venues have ranged from UD Cooperative Extension to Osher Academy, Friends of White Clay Creek, lots of gardening clubs and more. In addition, Rob has headed the MG Vegetable and Fruit Demonstration Garden (2012-2014) and the Workshops and Speakers Bureau Committee (2016-2018). Rob gardens on 1/2 acre in Newark.
Holly is an avid birder, educator, writer, and lecturer, who has a passion for bird conservation. She is an instructor for National Audubon and the American Birding Association and is the lead data reviewer for eBird in Pennsylvania. Holly believes in the powerful benefits nature holds for our wellbeing and is lead author on a book on the subject, aptly called Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul, guiding readers into deeper connections to the birds around them.
Michael Moore, PhD recently retired from being a biology professor after 38 years. He learned a love of the outdoors from his father who was an avid outdoorsman and fisherman. He has published nearly 100 papers in scientific journals. He was on the faculty at Arizona State University for 27 years but moved to the University of Delaware in 2009 and retired from there in 2020.
Maria Phillips is an artist and art therapist from Philadelphia, PA with a background in woodworking and printmaking. After a hiking trip to Glen Onoko Falls, she began wood-burning wildflowers and ferns. Using nature as the canvas, she hopes to encourage others to reflect on their relationship with the environment.
Vic Piatt is the Gardens Manager at Mt. Cuba Center and a graduate of Longwood Gardens’ Professional Gardener Program. He has held many positions at Mt. Cuba, including Plant Evaluation Gardener and Rock Outcrop/Scree Gardens Horticulturist.
Robert Raguso, PhD, is a professor of Chemical Ecology at Cornell University. His research interests run the spectrum of insect-plant interactions mediated by chemistry, especially the role of fragrance in pollination ecology and animal behavior. He has promoted his research by organizing symposia, short courses, and workshops world-wide.
Charlie Reidinger is a Grounds Maintenance Technician at Mt. Cuba Center. A native of Newark, DE, he worked in Arizona and California constructing and maintaining trails for the American Conservation Experience for the past ten years.
Laura Reilly is the trial garden assistant at Mt. Cuba where she evaluates native plants for horticultural and ecological value. She earned Longwood Gardens' Certificate of Merit I and II and has spent several weeks at symposia at Great Dixter, an iconic British garden where respect for the natural environment goes hand in hand with gardening excellence.
James Rockwell is the Greenhouse and Nursery Production Manager at Mt. Cuba Center, where he oversees plant production in our conservation research greenhouse. Prior to his tenure here, James earned two bachelor’s degrees from Virginia Tech and was a TRIAD Fellow at Longwood Gardens.
Margaret Saylor is the editor/designer of ASBA’s The Botanical Artist journal. She earned a Certificate in Botanical art and Illustration, with distinction, from the NYBG.
Joe Sebastiani is the Ashland Nature Center Manager for the Delaware Nature Society. He is passionate about birds and wildlife, founded the Ashland Hawk Watch, and edits Delaware eBird, an online checklist program, for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Sara Setzer is a fiber artist who specializes in the art of felt work. Inspired by nature, she creates eco-dyed and printed scarves, wraps, and collars using natural materials and leaves.
Jessica Shahan is a biologist and educator at Newlin Grist Mill Park in Glen Mills PA. She earned her MS at the University of North Dakota, focusing on landscape ecology and grassland bird communities. In her spare time, she can be found banding birds at Rushton Farm Preserve in SE PA, leading youth trips for the DE Ornithological Society, and gardening for wildlife.
Nate Shampine, CERP, is Mt. Cuba Center’s Natural Lands Manager responsible for implementing land conservation practices and developing healthy and functional ecosystems. He is a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and he is also a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner through the Society for Ecological Restoration.
Judy Simon is a botanical artist and freelance illustrator who has combined her love of gardening with her drawing and painting career. She is a member of the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators and the American Society of Botanical Artists. Her work is in many private collections.
Melissa Stanley has been a yoga instructor for children and adults since 2015. Melissa teaches a variety of styles, levels and ages.
Melissa Starkey, PhD, is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Mt. Cuba Center. She earned her PhD in biology from Northwestern University and an MSc in plant biodiversity and taxonomy from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh in Scotland. As part of her studies, she completed a certificate in field botany in Colombia. Melissa is an active Philadelphia County Master Gardener and PA Master Naturalist and serves on the Board of Directors at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center in PA, where she grew up.
Ian Stewart, PhD, was raised in Newcastle, England and received a doctorate in ornithology from the University of Leicester. He has conducted research on tree swallows and bluebirds and how local land management activities are affecting bird numbers and diversity throughout the year. Ian is currently an Ornithologist at the Delaware Nature Society. Ian is currently studying the effects of non-native plants on birds.
Michael Strengari is a Senior Horticulturist at Mt. Cuba Center, where he works in the Formal Garden. During his career in horticulture he has gardened private estates, public institutions, and his home. He is a graduate of the Longwood Gardens Professional Gardener Program. With an eye for design and a passion for native plants he hopes to continue to inspire the public by creating and maintaining beautiful garden spaces.
Gregg Tepper is a professional horticulturist, lecturer, consultant, and life-long native plant enthusiast. He has been in the public horticulture industry for over 30 years and has helped steward, guide, and promote various public gardens including Mt. Cuba Center and Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.
Liana Thompson completed the Vibration Sound Therapy Certified Practitioner training with the Vibrational Sound Association in 2019. Her passion is in helping others gently address stress and emotional trauma using the healing sounds of the Tibetan singing bowls.
Emily Tinalli is the Horticulturist for Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. She has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Farmingdale State College and enjoys knitting, wild land adventuring, and gardening with native plants.
William Trescott is the Arboriculture Manager at Mt. Cuba Center where he has worked for 33 years. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist®.
Brian Tuel has over 20 years of experience with the Art of Bonsai. He has numerous trees in his personal collection and has displayed at the Philadelphia Flower Show. He is a devout gardener with a wealth of experience in the fundamental elements of horticulture and Bonsai.
Kass Urban-Mead is a Xerces Society pollinator conservation specialist and a partner biologist providing technical support for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s conservation programs. For her PhD work at Cornell Entomology, she studied pollen collection by wild bee communities active in early spring forest canopies and apple orchards.
Dr. Waller’s major responsibilities are to provide leadership and support for the commercial agriculture industries of southern New Jersey, specifically commercial nursery production in Cumberland County. He holds a PhD in Plant Biology (focused on Plant Pathology) and is tasked with mitigating pest issues (insects, diseases, weeds, herbivores), intercepting invasive species, improving farm sustainability and production techniques, as well as developing best management practices (BMPs) for the growers and green industry professionals of the region. Dr. Waller is serving in his second year with Rutgers Cooperative Extension but has worked in various sectors of agriculture for the last decade and has held a pesticide license since 2014.
Jenna Webster is a designer with Larry Weaner Landscape Associates where she works on meadow and habitat plans for public parks and preserves as well as landscape master plans for residential properties. She holds a Master of Science in Ecological Design from the Conway School.
Claire Zuidervliet is the Conservation Propagator at Mt. Cuba Center, where she propagates a large variety of native plants in the conservation research greenhouse. She enjoys investigating the unique propagation needs for each of the species she works with and finds great joy in the first signs of germination. Before MCC, Claire worked as a Senior Grower at Longwood Gardens, where she managed the stock plant collection and specialty Chrysanthemum propagation. She earned her B.S. in Floriculture and Nursery Production from Delaware Valley University.
Kevin’s passion for plants has taken him from farms on the Tasmanian shore to Longwood Gardens. He currently works as the Head Propagator at Octoraro Native Plant Nursery where he now focuses on producing the highest quality native trees and shrubs.