The Delaware Botanic Gardens is governed by a Board of Trustees, with the assistance of 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 Trustees

Susan Ryan and
Sheryl Swed

Raymond Sander and
David Green

Ptery Iris and Betty Deacon

Diane Maddex and
Peter Carter

David Doane ??

Susan Ryan, President

Susan Ryan is the owner of Good Earth Markets and Organic Farm in Clarksville and Rehoboth. A member of the Delaware Food and Farm Association, her farm was the second USDA-certified organic farm in Delaware. The farm and market were named Business of the Year in 2012 by the Center for the Inland Bays. She is an advocate of all things natural. Susan, who also has experience in the construction industry, has a love of gardens fostered by her mother and her many childhood visits to Brookside Gardens in Maryland. "I am pleased to be part of this immensely worthwhile project," she says.


Raymond Sander, Vice President

Ray Sander has more than three decades of public service in the fields of national security, justice, transportation and international trade. He also has ten years of private-sector experience advising U.S. companies on international business. “The opportunity to contribute to this important project is a great way to give back a beautiful legacy to our community and create a new destination for Sussex residents and visitors that will enhance the economic vitality of Sussex County.”


Ptery Iris, Secretary

Ptery Iris is an educator with degrees in biology, science education, and teaching English to speakers of other languages. She has been active in environmental education for many years, most recently serving on the Governor’s Recycling Public Advisory Council in Delaware. She currently teaches Spanish and gardens whenever she can. “Nature and gardening are my spiritual necessities," she notes.


Diane Maddex

Diane Maddex, Hon. AIA, is an award-winning book publisher and author of a dozen books, including six on Frank Lloyd Wright. Her company, Archetype Press, has produced scores of titles on architecture and interior design, as well as garden books that showcase the White House garden, historic Georgetown in Washington, D.C., children’s gardens, and the gardens of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A cofounder and director of the National Trust’s Preservation Press, she has also been a journalist and served on the design review board in the new town of Reston, Va. Locally she has been involved in efforts such as the Coalition for Little Assawoman Bay.


David C. Doane

David Doane is a certified public accountant who since 2002 has been president of the firm Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner, P.A., in Georgetown and Ocean View. He serves as a county adviser to the Delaware Community Foundation and in 2009–10 was president of the Delaware State Board of Accountancy. David has been an adviser to several local banks, as


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 over 25 years in various positions, including work at the Commission on Civil Rights, the International Women’s Year Commission, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. And in the nonprofit world she served for 8 years as elected President of the U.S. Committee on UN Women, an NGO. She is a graduate of both the University of Delaware and the University of Wyoming. Sheryl and her family have had a summer home in Bethany Beach since 1986 and since 2010 they have been full time residents.


David Green, Treasurer

David Green earned an accounting degree from Notre Dame and his juris doctor degree from the University of Houston. After specializing in tax law throughout his career, he has now retired to Ocean View. He has been active with local groups such as the Coalition to Save Beach Cove, Justin's Beach House, and the Friends of the South Coastal Library. David believes that his love of gardening is attributable to his mother, who was a life member of the Magnolia Garden Club in Beaumont, Texas.


Betty Deacon

Betty Deacon is a political and community activist with bachelor's and master's degrees in public administration. She retired to Lewes from the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski and has been active in issues facing Sussex County. Betty has assisted in political campaigns and worked in communities to move the county forward and create jobs. Betty states, “I believe that a botanical garden in Sussex County would be a great destination for visitors, a learning experience for children, and at the same time create jobs in areas of the county where they are most needed.”


Peter E. Carter

Peter Carter was a successful and innovative K-12 school administrator. Serving as superintendent of several school districts in New Jersey, and a principal in both New Jersey and Delaware, he brings special knowledge of what this project 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.



well as an auditor for the town of Georgetown and the Easter Seals Society of Del-Mar. He has also held leadership positions with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Delaware Society of Public Accountants, Delaware Technical and Community College, Pyle Center Trust, and Rehoboth–Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, of which he was president.

Ex officio members

Gregory Tepper and
Wendy Baker

Gregory D. Tepper, Director of Horticulture

Gregory Tepper, our director of horticulture, comes to us from Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware, where he served as horticulturist, woods path horticulturist, and director of horticulture. A native plant enthusiast since age thirteen, he studied horticulture at the University of Delaware and went on to start his own business designing and managing private gardens. Gregg has lectured on native plants in the United States as well as at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Wisley in Great Britain. He volunteers annually as a horticulture passer at the Philadelphia International Flower Show and throughout the year pursues many botanizing excursions to photograph and study plant communities.

Wendy O. Baker

Wendy Baker is president and CEO of the Sussex County Land Trust, which she helped form in 2001. Growing up on her grandparents’ farm in Sussex County, she learned to appreciate the land at an early age. This has led her over the years to owning a local property management company, to working for sustainable land development, to serving on the Sussex Conservation District Board, to serving as president of the Delaware Association of Conservation Districts and the organization’s national board. Wendy enjoys traveling and photographing the outdoors and cannot wait to enjoy looking through her lens at the Delaware Botanic Gardens, right in her backyard.


Advisory Council

First Lady 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
First Lady of Delaware

Ronnie Burkle
Corporate chef, SoDel Concepts

Hugh Leahy
Former executive, Delaware Community Foundation

Collin O’Mara
Director, National Wildlife Federation and former secretary, DNREC

Don Rakow
Associate professor, Cornell University School of Integrative Plant Science, Section of Horticulture and codirector, Cornell Graduate Program in Public Garden Leadership

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



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

Holly Shimizu
Executive director emerita, United States. Botanic Garden

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

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

Michael Zajic
Founding president of Delaware Botanic Gardens and former horticultural supervisor at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Maryland

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 by row: Ronnie Burkle, Hugh Leahy, Collin O'Mara, Don Rakow, Rodney Robinson, Nelson Shaffer, Holly Shimizu, David Small, Doug Tallamy, Michael Zajic

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