Current Vocation:
Director of Ornamental Horticulture, Mount Auburn Cemetery

What are you doing right now, and what do you love about it?
I live in a collective house in Somerville, MA with a small but mighty (mostly) native garden that attracts all sorts of pollinators and smiles from strangers. As the Director of Ornamental Horticulture at Mount Auburn Cemetery, I oversee the maintenance of the ornamental gardens and natural areas of high ecological value in the cemetery. It’s an honor to be a steward of a landscape that inspires all who visit, comforts the bereaved, and commemorates the dead. I collaborate with a team of directors in the Horticulture & Landscape department to maintain this landscape of exceptional beauty. I have been an active board member of the Ecological Landscape Alliance since 2016. My experience includes designing, installing and maintaining native gardens, managing invasive plants, maintaining green infrastructure systems, and restoring native landscapes. I love seeing wildlife interactions with new plantings, learning new plants, and staring deeply into the eyes of a flower!

What were you doing before you applied to the Conway School?
Like many Conway alums, my education and past work experience shows my range of interests, choices, and opportunities. I studied religion during my undergrad years and spent a few years living and working in an intentional community in central Virginia. When I applied to Conway I was at the tail end of an 8-year career serving adults with developmental disabilities.

What brought you to Conway?
Communal living and resource-sharing led me to a deeper understanding of and passion for sustainable agriculture. Living on a farm reignited my desire to live in a city. I dug deeper into permaculture, stormwater management, and regenerative design. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for, but I knew it had something to do with growing food, improving our water quality, and making our communities more resilient. When I learned about Conway, I immediately realized that I had found what I was looking for. There was just no question for me — this was it.

How did you first learn about Conway?
Dave Jacke (Class of ’84) led a two-day permaculture track at a sustainable agriculture conference that I attended in 2012. At the end of the first day he and the other presenters spread some of their designs out on the tables for attendees to peruse. I remember feeling so excited flipping through the basemaps and trace paper layers of analysis. I was so captivated by this process of design; I knew in that moment that this was the career change I wanted to make. Dave pointed me to the Conway School.

Imagine we just met, and recognized we had common interests. How would you describe Conway to me?
Conway is like nowhere else. You’re in the field, in the forest, in the classroom, in the city, in the country, at the riverbank, and on the mountain top. You draw by hand and by computer mouse. Classroom conversations weave together environmental justice, climate change, food security, responsible forest management, habitat restoration, urban design and the need for more ecological design in our world. You learn to emphasize the context and the process. You learn how to communicate complex ideas through clear graphics and concise language. You collaborate with your classmates to find solutions.

What is your favorite tool? 
It depends on the task. A good pen, a wireless mouse, a solar-tracking app, a soil knife, garden scissors, and a good pair of shoes – all of these things have made my days a little brighter.

What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the field?
Talk to your peers and colleagues. You won’t be new forever. You probably know more than you give yourself credit for.