Board of Directors 2021-2022

The Toronto Botanical Garden Board of Directors is composed of talented professionals, each one a committed volunteer. The entire board meets regularly; board members develop policy and oversee and participate in many committees on an ongoing basis.

Barb Anie

Barb is currently a Solutions Strategist at TorStar Media Group. She is an experienced media marketer with over 17 years specializing in brand partnerships, strategic solutions, and digital sales/strategy.  Throughout her career, she has contributed to impacting business outcomes through strategic support, data mining, and the execution of key projects.

She is the President of a small, registered charity, Schools of Dreams, dedicated to building or renovating schools in Ghana with a focus on nursery and kindergarten cohort classrooms. She is also an active member of the Ghana Association of Hamilton sitting on the association’s health and wellness and communications committee. She has also volunteered for Torstar’s Santa Claus fund, Becel Ride for Heart, and Bob Kemp Hospice. She is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Barb is passionate about gardens, plants, and agriculture and is active in philanthropy and giving back to the community. 

Gordon Ashworth
Interim Chair

Gordon is an experienced public affairs consultant that owns his own company that specializes in strategic communications. He has held senior positions in the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario working in the Prime Minister’s and Premier’s offices. He has been involved in strategic planning, communications, and government relations for a wide range of public and private companies and has served on the boards of companies listed on the TSX and others that are privately held. He is currently a municipal appointee on the North Toronto Memorial Arena board. A graduate of UBC he has participated in gardening courses at UBC and George Brown. Gordon is also a member of the Expansion Committee.

Dianne Azzarello

Dianne recently retired from the pharmaceutical industry. She held senior pharma management positions, and was a Lecturer at University of Toronto Pharmacy School.

Dianne believes there is more to being a board member than loving the organization and that fiscal, legal and human resources must be aligned to the mission of the organization. Policies and procedures must be in place to ensure the success of the organization.

Dianne supports the role that gardens play in bringing people together, and as a place of refuge. She sees botanical gardens playing a key role in educating the public on native plants and sustainability. Dianne has been visiting the TBG since she was a child, and has been gardening at home for over 40 years. She leads the Strategic Plan implementation for the Toronto Master Gardeners, is a TBG tour guide and has been on the board of several organizations including Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada, Pharmacy Alumni Association and the Friends of the Markham Museum.

Adeline Cheng

Adeline is Vice President, Banking and Wealth Management Compliance at RBC. She has deep experience in financial services including regulatory and enterprise risk management, finance, strategy and management of large, multi-year projects and transformational change initiatives. 

Adeline’s board experience serving as a board member of RBC Investor Services Trust Company. She is keenly aware of the important role boards play in the stewardship of the organization’s strategic and growth plans. She has also served as an executive cabinet member of RBC’s Employee Giving Annual Campaigns which gave her an appreciation for the complexity of corporate fundraising.

As a lifelong visitor to the gardens throughout her childhood followed by frequent visits with her own children, Adeline believes that natural public spaces are critical for the well-being of our community.

Michele Chandler

Michele has been an entre/intrapreneur starting five successful businesses over 20 years. She is a strategic partner specialist and business development exec. She completed the Masters’ level Forensic Accounting program at the University of Toronto and has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

Michele has been a member of the TBG’s Finance and Audit Committee since 2015, and supports other local charities including Second Harvest, Foodshare and Soup Sisters.

As a TBG member, active gardener and passionate community booster, Michele believes gardens are essential in both city and community building.

Ben Cullen

Ben is a fourth-generation gardener and founder of Cullen's Foods, a nationally distributed brand of Canadian-grown, organic beans and pulses. Ben also writes a weekly column in the Toronto Star with his father, Mark Cullen.

Ben has a long family history with Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Garden. The garden was a place he explored as a child; where he gathered for informal family picnics, and on formal occasions such as his sister’s wedding. It is also where his grandfather got his start in the horticultural trade as a landscape gardener for Rupert Edwards over 70 years ago.

Ben believes in the public value of the garden, which has unlimited potential to connect Canadians back to the natural environment. He is a board member for the Organic Council of Ontario and Communities in Bloom.

Tony DiGiovanni

Tony is the Executive Director of both Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association and the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation. He has been active in many facets of horticulture industry development and is a founding member of Canada Blooms, Canada’s premier flower and garden festival.

He serves as a director on the Highway of Heroes Tribute Project, London Veterans’ Memorial Parkway Community Program, the Dean’s Advisory Board at Humber College and the Advisory Board at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. He has also held advisory board positions at the University of Guelph, Seneca College, Ryerson University, Humber College and the Industry Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Colleges Training and Universities.

The TBG has been an important part of his career in horticulture going back to 1975 when he was enrolled as a Landscape Technology Student at Humber College and frequently visited the Civic Garden Centre library. Tony believes strongly in the life-enhancing value of plants, gardens and green spaces.

Lisa Ellis

Lisa is the founder and director of YellowYellow Inc, a sustainability consulting firm that supports small to medium sized organizations navigate environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities. She has over 20 years of professional experience in the energy, finance and management consulting sectors. 

Lisa is a former Board Director of Community Living Toronto, one of the largest associations of its kind in North America. CLT is recognized as a leader in providing a full range of support to people with intellectual disability and their families. She also served on CLT’s Executive Committee, Audit & Finance Committee, Nominating Committee and bi-annual Fundraising Committee.    

As a child, she was a member of the ‘Green Thumbs’ Club and remembers joyfully wandering around Edwards Gardens. This experience influenced her decision to study conservation biology, botany and environmental science. It also influenced her decision to visit dozens of botanical gardens around the globe. As an adult, she has hosted several events at TBG as it has always served as an urban oasis for her family, especially during the pandemic.

Susan Grundy

Susan Grundy is a retired partner of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, a major national law firm, where she practiced business restructuring and insolvency law for many years. Most recently she was a member of the firm’s senior management team as the firm’s General Counsel. She has served on the boards of a number of professional and non-profit organizations, including the Georgian Bay Association, an organization that works with communities and other organizations and stakeholders to steward and protect the natural environment of Georgian Bay. She is currently a member of the board of VHA Home Healthcare. Susan has an ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and is a Fellow of the Insolvency Institute of Canada.

Susan is an active gardener and has a particular interest in native plants. She and her family have been regular visitors to Toronto Botanical Garden and the ravine park system for many years. She volunteered for TBG as a member of the Governance Committee before joining the board.

Abdullah Hamidi

Abdullah has multiple science degrees relating to agricultural engineering and has been a Toronto Master Gardener for over 10 years. He has worked in management for landscape companies, taught for Natural Resources, Forestry and Agriculture and written for agriculture and forest management publications.

Abdullah holds several certificates/awards relating to plant care. He is an orchid grower and past board member of both Family Service Toronto and the Canadian Society of Iranian Engineers and Architects. 

A long-time TBG member and active volunteer including leading TBG garden tours for over 10 years and promotes the gardens via ethnic TV reports in Farsi (Persian) and Kurdish languages as his favourite place in the city. His garden interests include the importance of native, indigenous plants and music in the garden. 

Christina Iacovino
Ex Officio, City of Toronto

Christina is the Manager of Partnerships and Business Services for Parks, Forestry and Recreation at the City of Toronto. There she helps City partners, like the TBG, to navigate their relationships with the City, helping to realise their collective vision. She also oversees the negotiation and management of PFR contracts.

Prior to joining the City, Christina was the Manager of Asset Commercialization for Metrolinx where she was responsible for generating non-fare revenue and managing promotional partnerships, focused on revenue and ridership.

Christina holds a Bachelor of Arts (Architectural Design) degree from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Environmental Design (Industrial Design and Design Management) degree from the University of Calgary.

Harry Jongerden

Harry has more than 40 years of experience as a professional gardener, garden designer and garden director. He has led the Garden Expansion Project at TBG, after managing the organization as Executive Director for five years.

Prior to his arrival at TBG, Harry held the posts of Garden Director at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, Head of Horticulture at Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario, and Head Gardener at the Stratford Festival. 

Harry is the author of This Other Eden. His landscape designs include the Walkerton Heritage Water Garden and Stratford’s Elizabethan Garden. Well known in the professional gardening world, Harry was named the Garden Person of the Year in 2019 at the Canadian Garden Tourism Awards. He is Chair of the Awards Committee at the American Public Gardens Association as well as Chair of the Ontario Garden Council. 

Nicole Leaper
Nominations Committee

With 30+ years as a tourism marketer for the province of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum, as well as a degree in Journalism from Ryerson University, Nicole is a respected leader with expertise in communications, brand development and creative services. She has extensive experience in the trade and tourism sector, developing and implementing successful consumer marketing brand strategies, campaigns and programs including the Ontario Signature Experiences program.

Nicole is an active member of the Toronto Master Gardeners and has been sharing her gardening knowledge with the public for over 20 years.

Margareth Lobo Gault

Margareth has been a TBG member and volunteer for several years, working in various areas including volunteer screening, gardening and special events.

Following a leadership career within the provincial government and human resources she has turned that experience and her horticultural knowledge into self-directed community work.  Margareth is the founder/curator of the Karma Garden, a City of Toronto community garden on The Kay Gardner Beltline.

She recently joined her ventures with AppleTree Markets, acting as a horticultural and design advisor to the June Rowlands Park community garden, donating Karma Garden-grown produce to the pay-what-you-can community table at the Davisville Farmers Market. 

Margareth is finishing her studies at Ryerson University Landscape Design Program and is working towards diplomas in horticulture and landscape design at the University of Guelph. 

She believes that gardens and gardening are key links in the chain of food sovereignty, as well as a driver of societal health.

Michael Schreiner
Expansion Committee Chair

Michael is a Landscape Architect with over 35 years of park and public realm design and development experience who has recently retired from the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division as Director of the Parks Development & Capital Projects branch. 

He has worked with residents, City Councillors, Provincial and Federal stakeholders, donors, and partners to contribute to the life of neighbourhoods and the fabric of the city. 

Michael led a team of professional staff in the development and delivery of a $1.1 billion 10 Year Capital Plan including parkland acquisition and recreational facility construction.

Melanie Sifton
Mission Committee Chair

Melanie Sifton currently sits on the board expansion planning committee, as well as the mission committee. Melanie Sifton is a horticulturist with a background in public garden and landscape management. As the former director of Humber Arboretum and Centre for Urban Ecology in Toronto, and the former Vice President of Horticulture & Facilities for Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City, Melanie seeks to explore and promote the intersection between science, education, landscape, and art. She is now pursuing doctoral studies in urban forestry at University of Toronto to investigate urban plant-soil interactions and landscape remediation strategies. 

Melanie obtained her Masters in Public Garden Leadership at Cornell University, her BA at McGill University, and her horticulture training at Humber College and Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture.

Ingrid Smith
Ex Officio, Milne House Garden Club

Ingrid grew up in Ireland and developed her love of gardens from her mother who was known to garden into the early hours of the morning! Gardening in Ireland was almost a year round activity, and all siblings had their garden chores. Ingrid emigrated to Canada in 1969, and brought up her children within walking distance of the Toronto Botanical Garden. Her children spent many happy hours running free in the gardens. After retirement from an administrative position at Mount Sinai Hospital, when asked by a friend how she was going to spend her time, and what made her happy, the answer was easy…gardening.

She joined Milne House Garden Club in 2010, and was President from 2016 – 2019. She is excited about the future of TBG and to be a small part of the expansion.

Marg Wilkinson
Ex Officio, Garden Club of Toronto

Originally from the UK, Marg settled in Canada after marrying. She has lived in Toronto ever since, apart from two separate stints in New Zealand where her youngest son was born. She has three children and eight grandchildren, at the last count. She studied Field Biology at college in the UK and later completed a BA in English at U of T. Marg is a passionate gardener and joined the Garden Club of Toronto when she retired. Before becoming Vice President she was Chair of the Projects Committee and worked to establish new gardens in the city and develop environmental projects.   

Janice Winton, CPA, CGA
Treasurer, Finance & Audit Committee Chair

Janice Winton is the Chair of the TBG’s Finance and Audit Committee. With over 35 years of senior finance, accounting and administration experience in the public sector, her most recent position was as Vice President Administration and Finance at Ryerson University. In that role she oversaw the University’s finances, computing, human resources, physical plant, security and ancillary operations. Prior to that she held the position of Chief Financial Officer at Ryerson for 24 years.

Janice is currently a member of the board at a number of not-for-profit organizations including Woodgreen Community Services and The Life Institute.

She is a chartered professional accountant (CPA, CGA), a Ryerson business graduate and holds a Master of Education (Higher Education) from the University of Toronto. Before joining Ryerson, Janice held a number of finance and accounting positions including Vice President Finance at York Finch General Hospital.

Born in Calgary, Alberta, Janice was raised in the Bahamas and her first career was as a registered nurse.

BOARD COMMITTEES

Finance & Audit Committee
Janice Winton, Committee Chair

Development Committee

Expansion Committee
Michael Schreiner, Committee Chair

Mission Committee
Melanie Sifton, Committee Chair

We sincerely thank all of our volunteer committee members for their hard work and dedication to the Toronto Botanical Garden.

 

 

 

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