Arboretum Foundation Staff
Jane Stonecipher—Interim Executive Director
Jane joined the Arboretum Foundation team in August 2017. She is responsible for oversight of the Foundation’s activities, including its organizational strategy, external relations, and fundraising, as well as working with our staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors. With degrees from Harvard Business School and University of Alabama, Jane began her career in the technology sector but subsequently followed her passions in the non-profit world with roles at Epiphany School and Woodland Park Zoo. A committed community volunteer, Jane also enjoys adventure travel, tennis, and college football. Jane sees the Arboretum as an amazing resource for the community, creating opportunities for children and adults to understand and appreciate the natural world. Email: email@example.com.
Lee Benner—Development Director
Lee joined the Foundation team in December 2017. She is responsible for strategic planning and the implementation of several key areas of the Foundation’s philanthropic work. Lee has worked for a variety of non-profits whose primary missions centered on the environment, education, and civic engagement. Before joining us, she was the Foundation Director for Sustainable Path Foundation. Lee began her career at the Missouri State Energy Office and moved to Seattle in 1980. Lee has a M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She enjoys gardening, exploring beaches, rooting for the Mariners, and trying out new recipes on family and friends. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whit Carter—Events and Operations Coordinator
Whit joined the Arboretum Foundation in December 2017. He is responsible for event planning and support, assisting in gift-shop management, and managing the office. Whit is excited to be the third native Texan to join the team, having also lived in Wailuku, Hawaii and London, England. He has a BA in history from Richmond, the American International University in London, with minors in theater arts and computer science. Outside of work, Whit is a volunteer at the West Seattle Food Bank—running their social media and helping with event planning—and enjoys writing, hiking, playing board games, and curling up with a good book. Email: email@example.com.
Niall Dunne—Communications Manager
Niall has been with the Foundation since June 2007. He manages publications and public relations for the Foundation and edits the Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin. He is also a freelance editor and writer, specializing in botany, conservation biology, and horticulture. His books include Easy Compost (2013), A Native Plants Reader (2012), and Healthy Soils for Sustainable Gardens (2009), all published by Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). A former publications editor at BBG, Niall is passionate about plants, urban ecology, open spaces, and public gardens—including the beautiful Washington Park Arboretum. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tess Forte—Events Manager
Tess joined the foundation as our Events Manager in April 2016. A native of Seattle (and bona fide Patches Pal), she has a B.A. in religion from Swarthmore College and lived abroad before returning to the Pacific Northwest. She is also a graduate of the UW Fundraising Management Certification Program. Before joining us, she spent 30 years working with adults with developmental disabilities in King County. At the same time, she honed her skills in event planning and fundraising, and she brings that experience to the Foundation. In her spare time, Tess is in a band and spends time with her husband hiking and fishing. Says Tess: “Working at the Arboretum is like coming home to me!” Email: email@example.com.
Jessa Gardner—Japanese Garden Support Manager
Jessa Gardner joined the Foundation in January 2016 as our events coordinator, supporting our annual cycle of events and the events at the Seattle Japanese Garden. In February 2016, she was promoted to her current position, in which she manages events and marketing for the Japanese Garden. Jessa has a B.A. in political science and a minor in Japanese from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She spent a year living abroad in Miyazaki, Japan, as an exchange student and continues to study Japanese language and culture in her free time. A native Texan, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to enjoy the cool weather and beautiful landscape. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alyssa Henry—Volunteer Programs Manager
Alyssa joined the Foundation staff in January 2016. She coordinates, trains, and manages the wonderful volunteers that devote their time and energy to the Arboretum. Before coming here, Alyssa spent three years with EarthCorps, where she was trained in volunteer and event management. That position also opened her eyes to the wonders of the plant world and the need to cherish it. She has a B.A. in environmental studies from Pacific Lutheran University. Alyssa is excited to cultivate the Arboretum’s existing volunteer base and to welcome other Seattleites into the fold to help care for this magnificent green space. Outside of work, you will find Alyssa smiling exuberantly as she explores the outdoors, dines with friends, and does advocacy work. Email: email@example.com.
Randall Hitchin—Special Projects Manager
Randall joined the Foundation in fall 2011 and has worked as our Volunteer Manager and our Outreach and Major Gifts Manager. Now an instructor at South Seattle College, he has a limited schedule at the Foundation, working on special projects for our executive director, including the Arboretum Walks & Talks tour program. The former UW Botanic Gardens Living Collections Manager and Registrar, Randall knows the plants in the Arboretum better than anyone and has long been a knowledgeable and eloquent advocate for this special place. He has an M.S. in Urban Horticulture & Public Garden Management from the University of Washington. He is on the board of directors of the Hardy Fern Foundation and is a founding member of the Great Plant Picks Selection Committee. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chie Iida—Events Coordinator/Seattle Japanese Garden
Chie joined the Foundation in May 2017. She coordinates and promotes cultural and educational events—and supports the Cultural Programs Manager—at the Seattle Japanese Garden. Chie has a B.A. in art from Western Washington University and a degree in restoration horticulture from Edmonds Community College. She is also a certified Master Native Plant Steward and enjoys spending time with other plant enthusiasts. Chie moved to the U.S. from Japan as an exchange student and fell in love with the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She looks forward to connecting with people in the community through plants, art, and culture. Email: email@example.com.
Nick Magruder—Development Associate
Nick joined the Foundation in June 2016 as our Operations Coordinator. In early 2018, he moved over into our Development Department and now coordinates our membership program, among other duties. Nick has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of North Texas (UNT), in Denton, Texas. While at UNT, he was one of the original organizers of Denton’s campaign to ban urban hydraulic fracturing—an effort that would make Denton the only city in Texas to accomplish such a task. Before joining our team, he served as a Campaign Director for Environment Washington. Nick is an avid cyclist and in his down time enjoys hiking and camping with his wife, and volunteering for political campaigns. A relative newcomer to Seattle, Nick moved here for the clean air, mountains, and rainforests. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron Schmaltz—Garden Stewards Assistant
Ron joined the Foundation staff in September 2017. Partnering with the UW Botanic Gardens horticulture staff, he coordinates work sessions for the volunteer Garden Stewards in the Arboretum. Ron has a background in computer science and spent 26 years working in IT at Group Health. In 2015, he decided to switch careers and pursued a certificate in Landscape Management at Edmonds Community College. He found his passion again in the spring of 2017, when he started interning—and then volunteering—with the UW hort staff at the Arboretum. Ron continues to volunteer here while also heading the Stewards program. Along with gardening, Ron enjoys “adventure” bicycling and writing inspirational poetry. Email: email@example.com.
Gary Wortzel—Director of Finance
Gary joined the Foundation in June 2014. He has extensive experience in the arena of non-profit accounting and finance. Before joining our staff, Gary worked as the controller at the Experience Music Project. Prior to that, he was an auditor at Clark Nuber, a major accounting firm that specializes in auditing non-profit organizations in this region. Gary is also a Certified Public Accountant and an accomplished artist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.