The Delaware Botanic Gardens is governed by a Board of Directors, with professional advice from an Advisory Council. Both include members well versed in aspects of governing a nonprofit public garden.

Rockport Analytics would also like to acknowledge the passion and determination of the DBG board. Their dedication and resolve to this project is palpable.
— Rockport Analytics | 2014

Board of Directors

Raymond J. Sander, President
Ray Sander holds a M.A. in government and politics and served in the federal government for thirty-three-years, the majority as a Senior Service Executive. He began his public service at the Central Intelligence Agency and then served with the U.S. Department of Justice, where he became the assistant director of the Management and Budget Staff with oversight of the department's law enforcement agencies and programs. At the U.S. Department of Transportation, he was the director of the Office of Management Planning and executive director of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, where he was responsible for the management of the $4 billion budget and a staff of 250.

Sheryl Swed,
Executive Director

Sheryl Swed ‘s past work includes experience in both the public and nonprofit sectors. She served the U.S government for more than 25 years in various positions, including work at the Commission on Civil Rights, International Women’s Year Commission, and U.S. Small Business Administration.

In the nonprofit world she served for eight years as elected president of the U.S. Committee on UN Women. A graduate of the University of Delaware and the University of Wyoming, Sheryl has had a summer home in Bethany Beach since 1986 and since 2010 has been a full-time resident.

Katherine A. Johnson
Corporate Treasurer

Kathy Johnson holds a J.D. (law) degree and a Master of Science in Administration.  She has worked in both the public and private sectors, including positions with a number of non-profit entities.  For more than 20 years, she served as a senior executive at various organizations involved in the health care and medical research fields.  Most recently, Kathy held the position of chief administrative officer at the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, an organization with 130 employees and an annual budget of $18 million.  After retiring and moving to southern Delaware, she started her own business in personal financial planning, specializing in financial topics affecting seniors and people with moderate incomes.  Kathy volunteers extensively in the local community, including serving as tax counselor with the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Program; past treasurer for the South Coastal Delaware Chapter of AARP; member of the grant review committee of the DCF Fund for Women, and treasurer of her homeowners association.

Ruth Rogers Clausen
Ruth Clausen is a garden writer who was trained in horticulture at Studley College in England and Kent State University in Ohio. In the 1970s she headed the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Her book Perennials for American Gardens, coauthored with Nicolas Ekstrom, was awarded the Quill and Trowel Award of the Garden Writers of America Association in 1990. Other books include Dreamscaping (2001), 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants (2011), and Essential Perennials (2015), with Thomas Christopher. She serves on numerous garden committees and lives in Easton, Maryland.

Peter E. Carter
Peter Carter was a successful and innovative K-12 school administrator. Having served as superintendent of several school districts in New Jersey and a principal in both New Jersey and Delaware, he brings special knowledge of what the Delaware Botanic Gardens should do and can do for the children of southern Delaware and the region. A resident of Lewes, he has served as president of his current homeowners association and an officer of two former associations.

Tom Bason
Tom Bason worked in Information Technology for Blue Cross Blue Shield for 25 years.  After that, Tom worked in the commercial software industry where he managed the development of state-of-the-art software systems for large corporations.  When the Internet boom arrived in the mid 1990’s, he joined several Internet startups as vice president of software development.

Since retiring, he has provided his technology skills gratis to many not-for-profit organizations and for the past year, has managed the Delaware Botanic Gardens website and back office applications.

Jeremy Hager
Jeremy Hager is President and Founder of The Land Care Advisory Group and Coastal Plant Care in Ocean View, DE.  He is Sussex County’s only ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, and has a passion for educating our coastal community about tree and environmental stewardship.  Jeremy holds a Master of Science Degree (Entomology) and a Bachelor of Science Degree (Environmental Resource Management, Horticulture), from Virginia Polytechnic and State University.

He later served as director of trade and commercial programs at the American Institute in Taiwan, where, he led more than fifty-five negotiations on financial services, investments, banking and insurance, and the protection of intellectual property. After leaving the public sector, Ray spent nearly a decade in the private sector in the area of international trade and business, working in East Asia, China, India, South America, Africa, and Eastern Europe as the senior vice president, International Government Affairs, at New York Life Insurance Company and then as an independent consultant to Abbott Laboratories. Ray previously served as DBG's treasurer and vice president.

Carol McCloud,
Vice President

Carol is Vice President of the DBG Board of Directors.  She is a Wilmington, DE native, is the former president of the Barefoot Gardeners Club in Fenwick Island and a State Life Member of the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs.  Carol retired from W.L. Gore and Associates, Newark, DE where she specialized in Payroll & Benefits, Computer Software Implementation of both People Soft and Occupational Health Services.  She is SHRM certified in Human Resources & Payroll. Her community service for the Town of Fenwick Island focuses on beach dune preservation and Earth Day activities. She is also a member of the Fenwick Island Historical Group.

For several years, she has been a volunteer for Delaware Botanic Gardens, coordinates all Garden Stewards and Docent activities, is Chair of the DBG Speakers/Tour Bureau as well as the Nominations Committee.  She lives in Fenwick Island, DE.

Brent Baker

Brent Baker began his love of nature in the Boy Scouts, where he reached the rank of Eagle Scout. He has 45 years of Communication-PR experience.  He served on active military duty for 29 years, and retired as the Navy’s Chief of Information with the rank of Rear Admiral.

Brent then served as a professor and the Dean of the College of Communication, Boston University.  When he retired, he was honored as Dean Emeritus.

He holds a BS in Communications from Northwestern University and an MS in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Brent brings his communications expertise to DBG serving as our Communications Advisor. He is a lifelong gardener and volunteers as one of the DBG Garden Stewards.

Ronald Bass
Ronald Bass has a BS in business administration from the University of Baltimore.  He worked for the Social Security Administration for 30 years holding well over 10 different positions within the agency ending in development and management of the national 800 number telephone system used for inquiries by the public. 

Upon retirement, he worked for one year as a volunteer with the Baltimore City mayor’s office on architectural projects in the city and volunteered for over 10 years managing the Otterbein Community Parks.  The parks system consisted of seven different parks spread throughout the community and included infrastructure maintenance, planting contracts, lighting coordination with the city along with simple planting and watering duties.

Bob Batley
Bob Batley is vice president of marketing and business development for Bancroft Construction Company, which specializes in construction management for science, technology, education, and corporate entities.

One of its most recent clients is the Delaware Botanic Gardens. Batley has more than twenty-five years of experience in executive leadership, customer service, and strategic planning. He is a Fellow of Leadership Philadelphia and serves on numerous nonprofit boards. Batley has won the highest civilian honor from the Veterans Administration and was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

Scott Thomas
Scott Thomas is Executive Director for Southern Delaware Tourism, the Convention & Visitors Bureau for Sussex County, DE.  He has over 13-years of experience in the tourism industry and serves on the Board of Directors for the Sussex Economic Development Action Committee (SEDAC).  Scott excels in the marketing communications arena.  He is the former Director of Sales and Marketing at The Inn at Canal Square in Lewes, DE and was the Corporate Events Marketing Manager for Acterna (a telecommunications company) in Germantown, MD.  He is a business school graduate of the University of Maryland and resides with his wife, Tammy in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Board members, from left to right by row: Sheryl Swed, Carol McCloud, Kathy Johnson, Ron Bass,
Ruth Rogers Clausen, Brent Baker, Peter Carter, Bob Batley, Tom Bason, Scott Thomas & Jeremy Hager.

Advisory Council

Carla Markell
(Jennifer Corbett, News Journal)

The Advisory Council is a group of distinguished public- and private-sector leaders who are assisting in the creation of the Delaware Botanic Gardens. They represent a wide variety of disciplines underpinning the garden's development and operation.

Carla Markell, Chair
Former First Lady of Delaware

Sally Boswell
Former Director of Education and Outreach, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays

Ronnie Burkle
Corporate chef, SoDel Concepts

Mark Carter
Dogfish Head’s Director of Beer and Benevolence and instrumental in the funding of DBG’s outdoor living classroom

Henry DeWitt
Founder, DeWitt & Associates, Inc.

David C. Doane, CPA
Has since 2002 been president of Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner, P.A. He serves as a county adviser to the Delaware Community Foundation.

Shawn Garvin
Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)

Lillian Harrison
President/Executive Director, Elevated Community Development Corp. and a Director of the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council

Barbara Katz
Owner, London Landscapes LLC, an award-winning designer of personal landscapes and outdoor spaces

Hugh Leahy
Former executive, Delaware Community Foundation

Diane Maddex
Award-winning architectural author and former DBG Board Member

Collin O’Mara
Director, National Wildlife Federation, and former secretary, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Donald A. Rakow
Associate professor, Cornell University School of Integrative Plant Science, co-director of the Cornell Graduate Program in Public Garden Leadership, and coauthor of Public Garden Management

Michael E. Riska
Former executive director,
Delaware Nature Society

Rodney Robinson, FASLA, PLA
Landscape architect and designer, including restoration of the Nemours and Woodburn gardens

Susan Ryan
Owner, Good Earth Farm and Organic Market, and past president, Delaware Botanic Gardens

Nelson J. Shaffer
Executive vice president, Pennoni Associates Inc.

David Small
Former Secretary, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Holly Shimizu
Executive director emerita, United States Botanic Garden, and honorary life member, American Public Gardens Association

Doug Tallamy
Professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, University of Delaware

LeDee Wakefield
Comptroller for The Inn at Montchanin Village and Spa. She serves on several boards including Preservation Delaware, Young Friends of the Brandywine River Museum and most recently Delaware Guidance.

Claudia West
Planting designer and ecological sales manager, North Creek Nurseries, and coauthor, Planting in a Post-Wild World.

The Delaware Botanic Gardens is a proposal that all Delawareans can embrace. I am impressed with the leadership and spirit of volunteerism demonstrated by the citizens who have developed this project and am honored to join with them as the chair of their Advisory Council to help make these gardens a reality for Delaware.
— Carla Markell, First Lady of Delaware | 2014

Advisory Council members, from left to right: Sally Boswell, Ronnie Burkle, Mark Carter, Henry DeWitt, David C. Doane, Shawn Garvin, Lillian Harrison, Barbara Katz, Hugh Leahy, Diane Maddex, Collin O'Mara, Don Rakow, Michael Riska, Rodney Robinson, Susan Ryan, Nelson Shaffer, Holly Shimizu, David Small, Doug Tallamy, LeDee Wakefield (not shown), and Claudia West.

For more on these leaders, see In the news and News releases

Click here to see what they say about the Delaware Botanic Gardens >

Our leaders in print and on video

Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes October 7, 2015
by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West (Advisory Council member)
This groundbreaking guide presents a powerful alternative to traditional horticulture—designed plantings that function like naturally occurring plant communities. Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, two leading voices in ecological landscape design, reveal how plants fit together in nature and how to use this knowledge to create landscapes that are resilient, beautiful, and diverse. As practical as it is inspiring, Planting in a Post-Wild World is an optimistic manifesto pointing the way to the future of planting design.

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded –  2009
by Douglas W. Tallamy (Advisory Council member)
Bringing Nature Home has sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being, and the new paperback edition ― with an expanded resource section and updated photos ― will help broaden the movement. By acting on Douglas Tallamy's practical recommendations, everyone can make a difference.

Public Garden Management: A Complete Guide to the Planning and Administration of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta 2nd Edition
by Donald Rakow (Advisory Council member) and Sharon Lee  
Public Garden Management is an all-in-one professional reference and textbook that clearly shows how to develop, establish, manage and maintain a sustainable (both economically and environmentally) public garden. Written by thirty leading experts, the book offers practical coverage of the relevant topics, with supporting case studies that show how the information can be applied with the help of line drawings and photographs that assist in conveying critical information.

Holly Shimizu's Video Guide to Growing and Using Herbs
by Holly H. Shimizu (Advisory Council member), Directed by Richard T. Slade  

When this DVD was made, Holly Shimizu was executive director of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., and remains one of the most knowledgeable experts on herb gardening. She has lectured extensively, has written on a variety of horticultural subjects, and served on the advisory boards of the American Horticultural Society and the American Botanical Council. Previously, Holly was the first curator of the National Herb Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum and received the Herb Society of America's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Horticulture.

Available online from or local booksellers.

Banner photograph: DBG board members at an April 30, 2016, fundraiser for the garden, from left to right: Gregg Tepper, Sheryl Swed, and Ray Sander. Photograph by John Boggan of DC Tropics

Header photographs, from left to right: Governor Jack Markell and Carla Markell at DBG's 2015 farm dinner with Sheryl Swed, Susan Ryan, David Ryan and Ray Sander. Gregg Tepper and Governor Markell. Susan Ryan and Nelson Shaffer. Photographs by Ann Margaret Donato. Carla Markell and Sheryl Swed. Kelly Sheridan and Peter Carter. Ray Sander. Photographs by Raymond Bojarski