Board of Trustees

Chair Randi Coopersmith

Vice Chair Dave Claycomb

Treasurer Mark Dowling

Secretary Vann Parker, PhD


Alana Asmussen

Jason Baltimore

Martin Cassell

John DeWald

Martin Dickinson

Pete Elkin

Ruben Flores-Saaib, PhD

Roxana Foxx

Andy Grant

Marcia Hall Brockett

Janet Kister

Arlene Prater

Adam Robinson

Jim Ruecker

Suzy Schaefer

President and Chief Executive Officer

Ari Novy, Ph.D.

Dr. Ari Novy is President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Botanic Garden. He is a plant biologist with a wide range of expertise in plant science and education. In addition to his role at the Garden, Dr. Novy is an active researcher, holding an appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor at Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers and regularly speaks on various horticultural and botanical topics nationally and internationally. He is the founding co-chair of the Food and Agriculture Professional Section of the American Public Gardens Association. Dr. Novy has served on task forces and advisory panels for diverse groups including the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Cornell Alliance for Science, Botanic Garden Conservation International, Rock Creek National Park, the Garden Club of America, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, and many others. He has a deep passion for translating science into best management practices and public education. He is immensely proud of having been a science advisor for the most recent seasons of The Magic School Bus. For his complete bio, click here.

Chief Operations and Experience Officer

Tomoko Kuta

Tomoko Kuta has been an Encinitas resident for over 20 years but she was born in Japan and has lived in four different countries and major cities including London, Chicago, New York, Paris and Tokyo. She has expressed her multicultural and multilingual experiences throughout her career by working in non-profit organizations that serve diverse audiences and engaging visitors through a variety of programs. After over twenty-five years working in museums helping multiple organizations to grow, Tomoko joined San Diego Botanic Garden where she channels her skills to produce informative and interactive opportunities in the areas of Education, Visitor Services and Membership. Tomoko received a BS from Cornell University and an MA from the University of Chicago. She is an active member of the local and non-profit communities: with her family, she regularly volunteers for different organizations in San Diego and she is currently President of the California Association of Museums’ Board of Directors.

Chief Admin & Culture Officer

Jill Gardner

Jill Gardner grew up overseas, living in seven countries before coming back to the states for college. She then worked for the Department of Defense and Department of State as an overseas security specialist and investigator. When Jill moved to San Diego, she entered into the Human Resources field taking advantage of her multi-cultural experiences and investigative background. She came to San Diego Botanic Garden in 2016 to create a cohesive Volunteer Program. After two years, she was given the opportunity to expand into also creating an HR Department, offering focused attention on staff needs and development. Jill continues to value her role at the Garden with great respect for the staff and volunteers for whom she is fortunate to offer support.

Senior Director of Facilities and Strategic Projects

Brandi Eide

Brandi Eide is the Senior Director of Facilities and Strategic Projects at San Diego Botanic Garden where she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Garden’s facilities, and leads construction and other special projects to improve the Garden’s collections, infrastructure, visitor amenities and facilities. Prior to joining SDBG, she managed the science and garden departments at Springs Preserve, a 180 acre preserve and botanical garden in Las Vegas, NV; served as a museum scientist at University of California, Berkeley, Botanical Garden; and worked in several positions at Desert Botanical Garden, including managing the conservation collection. Brandi has developed and managed plant collections and databases, participated in field collection and restoration efforts for conservation status taxa, and in situ and ex situ research involving invasive and endemic monitoring. She has worked with seed collection, seed storage and testing, propagation of difficult taxa, and has led educational outreach, botanical and conservation interpretation and programming for the public.

Senior Director of Science & Conservation

Colin Khoury

Colin Khoury was born and raised in the coastal sage scrub and the avocado and citrus orchards of San Diego County. He obtained a Master of Science in plant genetic resource conservation from the University of Birmingham, UK, and a PhD in production ecology and resource conservation from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He has held science and conservation positions at academic, nonprofit, industry, government, and international organizations across the US and in Italy and Colombia. Colin is thrilled to be back home, working for the conservation and use of plant diversity for people and for the planet.

Director of Gardens

John Clements

John Clements has been a horticultural professional for 46 years. Former orchid nursery owner, gardener and koi pond builder to the rich and famous, award winning horticulturist, commercial fruit tree farmer, garden writer, agricultural historian, co-administrator with Nan Sterman of the San Diego Gardener Facebook group, and Director of Gardens at the 37-acre San Diego Botanic Garden.





Senior Director of Philanthropy & Communications

Lenise Andrade

Lenise Andrade has over 20 years experience in nonprofit fundraising for a variety of organizations, including many focused on environmental conservation, such as Heal the Bay, the San Diego Zoo, and WILDCOAST. She has also served as a fundraising consultant for I Love a Clean San Diego, Anza-Borrego Foundation, San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Lenise has facilitated and led workshops on nonprofit management, fundraising, and leadership for numerous area fundraising programs and professional associations. She was a founding Board Member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network in San Diego, serves on the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee for Catalyst San Diego and Imperial Counties and the North County Philanthropy Council’s Board of Directors, and is a founding member of Women Give San Diego.