Arboretum Foundation Staff
Paige Miller—Executive Director
Paige has been at the Arboretum Foundation since April 2007. As executive director, her responsibilities include management and administration, organizational strategy, advocacy and external relations, fundraising, and working with our board of directors and volunteers. Educated at Smith College, Brown University, and Yale Law School, Paige is a former Seattle Port Commissioner and attorney. Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, outdoor activities, going to the opera and the theatre, and playing with her grandchildren. Asked why she enjoys working at the Arboretum, Paige replies: “I love being able to share my enthusiasm for this beautiful place with others and playing a part in making it better for those who will come here in 25 or 50 years. It is an opportunity to leave a real legacy.” Email: email@example.com.
Nathaniel “Nat” Bennett—Development Associate
Nat joined our staff in July 2014, working first as our Operations Coordinator. He now provides support to our Development Director on major gifts, grant writing and management, commemorative giving, and other programs. Nat has a B.A. in archaeology and Greek language and literature from Oberlin College. While at Oberlin, he did field research in Greece, Israel, and Macedonia, and also served as the operations manager for the Oberlin Student Co-operative Association, which provides at-cost housing and dining to students. When he’s not at work, Nat enjoys cooking, soccer, and playing the piano. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 latest books are Easy Compost (2013) and A Native Plants Reader (2012), both 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: email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 manage 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: email@example.com.
Alyssa Henry—Volunteer Resources 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Magruder—Operations Coordinator
Nick started in June 2016 and is the newest member of the Foundation. Among his main duties, he manages our busy office and provides administrative support to our executive director. 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: email@example.com.
Jillian Weed—Garden Stewards Assistant
Jillian joined our staff in June 2016. She is responsible for the training, scheduling, and ongoing management of the volunteers in the Garden Stewards program. Jillian has a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a botany focus. She has had a love of gardening since a child and enjoys working with volunteers that share this passion or hope to find it. She has worked in ground maintenance at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, and as a gardener and plant ecologist for Seattle Parks and Recreation. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.com.