Bellevue Botanical Garden Society
The Society is a non-profit organization established in 1985 in partnership with the City of Bellevue Parks Department. It is governed by a Board of Directors and supported by staff and volunteers. Funds are raised through membership dues, fund-raising events, and donations. The Board also seeks funding through grants.
The Society provides free Garden events such as the Mother's Day Social, Music in the Garden, Art in the Garden, and Garden d'Lights and also funds the Living Lab Program which educates over 1000 students annually with a curriculum coordinated with the Bellevue school district.
Board of Directors
To contact the Board of Directors, please email us.
Denise Lane, Co-President
Denise had hopes of becoming a landscape architect, but discovered she can’t draw. Her passion for plants led to a first career in the nursery business, where she earned Washington Certified Nurseryman credentials. Graduation from UW with a BA in Business Administration led to a second, 25-year career as a commercial real estate appraiser/analyst. She obtained the coveted Appraisal Institutes MAI designation in 1987, and became VP and co-owner of an 18 member appraisal firm working the tri-county area. Areas of expertise included office, industrial, shopping centers, multi-unit residential, medical office, auto dealerships—any type of real estate other than houses. She qualified and testified in King County Superior Court as an expert witness. In addition to enjoying travel adventures, she remains an obsessive gardener and is a member of five national and international horticultural organizations.
Anne Dziok, Co-President
has a passion for serving and volunteering in the community. She has been involved with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, park development in the community, and arts projects reaching as far as New York and the families affected by the events of September 11, 2001. With a BS in Graphic Design from the University of Minnesota, connecting people with art became second nature. After moving to Washington 22 years ago, she chose to homeschool her two children, finding joy in teaching the rich history and ecology of the Pacific Northwest. Currently she directs a Taekwondo Summer Camp and After School program in Redmond, promoting life skills and independence in children of all ages. Connecting young people to their communities and natural world has been a lifelong mission. In addition to gardening, Anne enjoys painting, literature and the outdoors.
Cleo Raulerson, Treasurer
Cleo has been a gardener all her life and a BBGS member since the garden was dedicated in 1992. She has over 750 varieties of flowering plants in her Woodridge/Bellevue garden where she and her husband Peter have lived for 27 years. Cleo recently retired after a 38-year High Tech management career, most recently as Sr. Operations Manager with Cisco Systems. Prior to that, she was an IT Applications Director with Eddie Bauer and Egghead Software, and a consultant with Deloitte. Cleo has an MBA from UW and a BS in Computer Science from OSU. Cleo’s non-profit Board experience includes Mortar Board Alumni/Tolo Foundation (President and Treasurer), which manages a $800,000 scholarship endowment fund, Intiman Theatre, and Seattle Chapter of WITI (Treasurer). She is also a Master Gardener.
Kathryn Highland, Acting Secretary
Kathryn attended the University of Minnesota where she majored in business. She was employed by PACCAR, Occidental Chemical Corporation, The Traveler’s Insurance Company-Managed Health Care, The Bon Marche, and Orthopedics International. Philanthropy has been important to Kathryn as she has been very involved with various organizations as a board member or general member. These include the Master Gardener program of Washington State University; Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, Northwest Perennial Alliance; ASSISTANCE LEAGUE® of the Eastside, Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild, Seattle Symphony Women’s Organization, and American Association of Medical Transcriptionists.
Heather Babiak-Kane was born and raised in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in nursing, and completed post graduate work in neurophysiology at the University of Washington. Heather was a pediatric neuro nurse for many years before retiring to concentrate on volunteer work, primarily with the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society as a board member and on events, membership and volunteer resource committees. She is also a Master Gardener, a member of Woodinville Garden Club, and is currently teaching cake decorating classes. She and her husband, John, love working in their garden year round, biking, hiking and traveling, and most of all love their two dogs, Herbie the Westie and Roe the Corgi.
Nancy Daar is a former educator. She holds a BA degree with additional graduate studies at UVA and Emory University. For the past 24 years, Nancy has been a passionate advocate for BBG and its mission. She has volunteered as a docent since 1994, and currently serves as the Coordinator of the BBGS Docent team. At BBG, she volunteers with the Waterwise Garden, Fuchsia Society, Living Lab, Rock Garden Committee, and Garden d'Lights. She is serving her third term on the BBGS Board of Directors, and is a member of many committees. Nancy’s interest in the environment extends to the City of Bellevue Stream Team, WNPS Stewardship Program, and national groups. She is a supporter of numerous local and national horticultural organizations.
Susan Hawkins takes a business objective and makes it reality through a sound marketing strategy and plan. She is skilled in strategy, development, and the execution of marketing campaigns that align with overall business strategy and plans. As a former IBM Marketing Manager, she led the planning and execution of US and Global marketing programs that contributed tens of millions of dollars to business revenues and sales pipelines. Earlier in her career, as a Principal Management Consultant, Susan advised and guided clients in the areas of: I/T strategy, planning and assessments; business and ROI analysis; project, benefit and change management; and business process improvement. Susan holds an MBA with a major in Marketing.
Robin Root James was born and raised in Bellevue and is a cum laude graduate of Seattle University, where she earned her BA. Upon graduation, Robin began a sales career and has never looked back. In 1989, Robin received her real estate brokerage license and has been selling real estate full time since then. During her career, she has received numerous awards including John L. Scott’s Highest Achievement award—the Top 1% Award—multiple years in a row. She is also part of a select group of real professionals who excel in client satisfaction, receiving the Five Star Achievement award for ten consecutive years. This award is received by less than seven percent of professionals in the area. Robin is an avid hiker, a snow and water skier, and a volunteer for the Village Theater. She’s been volunteering for the BBGS since 1995. She and her husband Larry enjoy flying and spending time working in their own garden.
David E. Ketter moved to the NW in 1977 and is a founding partner in the Seattle law firm of Simburg, Ketter, Sheppard & Purdy, LLP. He specializes in family financial and estate planning and is also President of The PJA Foundation, a long-time supporter of the Society’s mission. David grew up in Nebraska and Iowa. He received a BA from Augustana College, an MA from The University of Illinois, and his JD from Georgetown University. David also served in the US Army for three years as an officer in the Medical Service Corp. An active member of the local theatre community, David has previously served on the boards of performing arts organizations. He lives in Fall City with his wife, Mary Jo Dugaw, a local theatre professional. His daughter, Emily, resides in Seattle.
Jan Rogers, a Washington State native, has lived in Heidelberg, Tucson, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, and now Hunts Point, WA. With a financial and marketing background, she founded an Arizona marketing and public relations firm with Fortune 100 and 500 corporate clients in Arizona, New Mexico, and California. In moving to New York, Jan began a design firm which specialized in décor consultation, space planning, and construction management of residential interiors. She continues her design consultation now in Seattle. Additionally, upon returning to Seattle in 1994, it was the first time Jan had an opportunity to enjoy gardening, thus beginning her love affair with landscape design. Over the years, she has been a volunteer with many community non-profit arts and civic organizations as chairman, president, board member, and events chairman in the cities in which she lived.
Nita-Jo Rountree is a speaker, educator, and landscape designer. She is a lifetime Georgia Master Gardener and former owner of LeGrand Gardens, a landscape design and installation company in Atlanta, Georgia. Nita-Jo is a member of the Heronswood Garden Steering Committee, and serves on the advisory board of the Northwest Horticultural Society, of which she is a former president. She is a frequent speaker and judge at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and the Yard, Garden and Patio Show in Portland, Oregon, and is a frequent guest and substitute host on Gardening with Ciscoe, in Seattle, Washington. Her personal garden was featured on the HGTV television show Gardening by the Yard, and in the Pacific Northwest Magazine section of the Sunday Seattle Times. Nita-Jo is a member of Great Garden Speakers, the Garden Writers Association, the American Rose Society, and numerous regional nonprofit horticultural organizations. Her book, Growing Roses in the Pacific Northwest, published by Sasquatch Books, will be released on January 17, 2017.
Kathleen Searcy was raised in the Yakima valley where her family operated a fruit production and brokerage business. She earned a BA in Political Science, MA in Administration, and various Washington state credentials to become both an elementary and secondary school principal in Seattle. Kathleen served as director of human resources for the Renton School District where she was responsible for employment and employee issues, collective bargaining, and grievance management. Later, she became the vice president of Renton Technical College, a position she held until retiring. Kathleen continued an interest in antiques and collectables, opening a Bellevue store offering inventory collected locally and abroad as an enthusiastic world traveler.
Bill Shain moved to Kirkland from Albany NY in 2010, where he had lived for 30 years. Bill lived on a commercial sheep farm, was an active 4H leader, a co-director of local agricultural programs, and was on the boards of several agricultural organizations. For his day job, he was a research scientist at the Wadsworth Center (New York State’s Public Health Laboratory), a professor at the University of Albany, and ran a grant-supported laboratory. During this time, Bill was a participant, director, or board member on national programs in nanobiotechnology and neural prosthetics and sat on panels for the National Institutes of Health. In Seattle, Bill joined the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute as a Professor in the Departments of Neurological Surgery and Bioengineering and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. His long-standing interests in horticulture, education of the young, and making the general public more aware of the how agriculture contributes to their lives have brought him to the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society.
Gretchen Stengel was raised in New Jersey; her mother was a landscape architect and both her parents were avid gardeners. After completion of nursing school, Gretchen, moved to Seattle in 1968 to work at the University of Washington and continue her education. She graduated cum laude with a Masters in Physiological Nursing. She taught a Nurse Practitioner Program at the University for a number of years, and eventually retired from nursing to raise her two daughters. She was an active volunteer while her children were at Bellevue Christian School, serving on a number of committees, helping in the classroom, helping to run the annual Jog-a-thon, and decorating and participating in the annual Madrigal Feast. Being a dedicated gardener, Gretchen joined Arboretum Unit 16 in 2002 and the Bellevue Botanical Garden in 2006, serving on the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2014. Gretchen and her husband, Robin Callan, live in Medina and enjoy their garden, traveling, skiing, cycling and entertaining.
Doris Wong-Estridge has been in the fund development field for more than 25 years. She has had the challenge of and has been successful in creating and implementing fundraising strategies, programs, campaigns, activities, events and systems while serving as the Development Director for a number of organizations, including Literacy Bridge, Powerful Schools, and Cancer Lifeline. Prior to that she served as the Assistant Development Director at Seattle Central Community College, as well as served in all areas of fund development at KCTS TV. Doris is a lifelong Seattleite and graduate of the University of Washington.
|Jeanne Bayley brings a variety of retail and management experiences to the job of Trillium Store Manager/Buyer. Born and raised in the Yakima Valley, Jeanne earned a BS degree from Washington State University. Jeanne honed her retail skills at Nordstrom stores, owning a retail store, sales training for a national sales company, personal VIP sales and team sales awards. Her love of creating beautiful spaces can be seen at the Trillium Store as well as her 1906 vintage home and cottage garden. “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” Gertrude Jekyll. Phone: (425) 452-7811. SEND EMAIL
Shannon Darrow is the Trillium Store assistant manager and thoroughly enjoyed coming to work at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. She was born in Seattle and has lived in Bellevue for most of her life. Together with her husband, her greatest joy is having raised their three children. Prior to the Society, Shannon worked for the Seattle-King County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kraft-Smith Advertising, and Frederick & Nelson. Phone: (425) 452-7811.
As a college student of horticulture in southern California, Nancy was fortunate to participate in internships at public gardens. Upon graduation in 1984, Nancy was hired onto the administrative staff of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii. With a passion for plants, and more importantly, the connection of people with plants, Nancy found the perfect outlet in the public garden arena. After nearly a decade in the islands, Nancy returned to the mainland, and was hired as the first curator of the brand new Bellevue Botanical Garden in 1992. In 1995, Nancy took a hiatus from her career to spend time with her young children. During this time, Nancy volunteered at the Garden and served on the board of the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society. Nancy returned as Garden Manager in 2007. The ensuing years brought exciting professional challenges, including the master plan update; major renovation of the renowned NPA Perennial Border; new Visitor Center and Ravine Experience projects; and innovative ways to enrich the visitor experience. SEND EMAIL
Darcy McInnis is our Communications and Events Manager. She grew up in Olympia, and has lived in the Seattle area for the past 26 years. A graduate of Central Washington University, she holds a BA degree in English literature. Darcy has made her career in the non-profit sector, and has worked at a variety of organizations in the greater Seattle area over the past 26 years. For the past 22 years, she has concentrated on non-profit communications, marketing, public relations, graphic design, and grant writing. Darcy enjoys and is skilled at using written and visual communications to engage stakeholders and the general public in the work of non-profit organizations to increase involvement with and goodwill toward these organizations. Phone: (425) 452-4216. SEND EMAIL.
Kate Sorensen, our Children’s Education coordinator, grew up in Edmonds. She attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and graduated with chemistry and education degrees. She worked at a clinical lab and then returned to graduate school and earned a Masters in Inorganic Chemistry at the UW and UC-Irvine. After leaving graduate school, Kate tutored science, was a substitute teacher, and taught science at University Prep and the Bear Creek School. She holds a current Washington State teaching certificate and a Masters in Education from UW-Bothell. She also played viola in a string quartet for weddings. She lives in Redmond on Union Hill and is married with two daughters, ages 17 and 20. She has served as a PTA chair and does a lot of volunteer work with girls and adults in Girl Scouts. She enjoys camping, bell ringing, travel, scrapbooking, and her pets. SEND EMAIL
Courtney Voorhees, our Operations Manager gained extensive office administration experience while working in the ski industry for many years. Courtney worked for a skiwear manufacturing company assisting in design and working in sales, then became softgoods buyer and manager for Sturtevant’s of Sun Valley. Working for the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce Courtney coordinated large community events and Chamber programs. Courtney relocated to Portland, Oregon working for Columbia Sportswear. In 2007, she moved to Seattle. Courtney and her husband started Momentum Northwest, a non-profit cross-country ski program for Seattle area youth in 2014. Her hobbies include cooking and gardening, and going on ski, fishing or hiking adventures. Courtney graduated from Forest Ridge, and received a BS in Philosophy from the University of Colorado. Phone: (425) 452-5248. SEND EMAIL.