Board of Directors 2024-2025

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.

Claudia Alvarenga, CPA

Claudia brings a wealth of financial expertise and strategic leadership with a career spanning nearly 15 years in the real estate industry. She is currently the Chief Financial Officer of a U.S. based Real Estate Investment Trust and has played a pivotal role in steering effective financial decision-making amidst challenging economic times. Prior to her role as CFO, she held management roles in financial controls and assurance, and is committed to upholding the highest standards of governance and accountability. Her career is distinguished by her ability to drive positive change and implement effective controls. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a graduate of the University of Toronto.

In addition to her professional achievements, Claudia is deeply passionate about environmental stewardship and sustainable development. She believes in the transformative power of public parks and gardens as vital hubs for education, research, and community engagement. Claudia is an avid volunteer for various charitable organizations and believes in giving back to the community.

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
Past 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 ex officio to all Board Committees.

Dianne Azzarello

Dianne Azzarello is a pharmacist by training and happily worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry for 38 years.  It was a great honour to support patients battling difficult health challenges.  Upon retirement, Dianne decided it would be fun to work for free.  Dianne is also on the Board of Directors of  Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra based in Toronto and known around the world.  In addition, Dianne is a Toronto Master Gardener and a tour guide at the Aga Khan Park.  Her favourite activities as a Master Gardener are interacting with the public, giving tours at Toronto Botanical Garden and writing the weekly newsletter Foraging for new information.  The best time of all is spent wandering around Toronto Botanical Garden alone, with friends or leading a tour!  Not wanting to completely step away from the Science, Dianne still does an annual lecture on Drug Safety for Pharmacy Students at U of T.

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.


Doris is a Landscape Architect who has 38 years of professional experience in a wide variety of projects and environmental works. She has worked throughout Ontario from landscape architectural firms to engineering-centric offices. Currently, she is the Landscape Architect for Hydro One Networks Inc., the largest electrical transmission company in Ontario. She provides advice, design, and technical details for environmental stewardship, enhancements, biodiversity, sustainability, climate adaptation, and mitigation. She works with various groups of professionals within the company to deliver projects and community benefits through environmental and land designs. She is involved in the planning and development of The Meadoway in cooperation with the TRCA and the City of Toronto. The Meadoway is the longest pollinator trail in Ontario and stretches from the west side of Scarborough to the east at the Rouge National Park. 

Her career began as a park and public space designer developing plans for municipalities through engaging with local communities. She then worked in the planning department reviewing urban developments with an eye on the integration of vegetation and the natural environment. Her volunteerism includes serving as the president of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA) from 2016 to 2018 and is now engaged in a committee pursuing a professional practice act with the provincial government. She volunteers as an advisor to the Grey to Green Conference as well as mentoring students and interns, advising and assuring the development of their professional skills and knowledge through the Professional Development Program of the OALA.  She has also served as the Chair of the Honours Awards and Protocol of the OALA revising the award requirements and standardizing the submission process. She has served on the Board of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and adjudicated the 2019 and 2020 Awards of Excellence and was also the Chair of the adjudication in 2020.

Doris is also interested in the revitalization of Ontario Place and was part of the advisory committee overseeing the development of the William G Davis Trail and Trillium Park on the east edge. Her interest in landscape architecture and our natural environment lies in the belief that we are gifted the stewardship of the land. Knowing and understanding our natural systems and environment will enhance our lives and sustain our future growth while encouraging healthy living for all species. 

Adeline Cheng

Adeline is currently an Associate Partner and National Lead - Regulatory Compliance Canada with EY and formerly the 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.

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.

Lucie Gauvin

Lucie is an executive in the Law Group at Royal Bank of Canada. She provides strategic and thoughtful leadership to senior management on banking matters in Canada and the Caribbean. Lucie is also responsible for enterprise-wide strategic legal issues relating to payments, data, data protection, AI, financial crimes, privacy, etc. She has deep expertise in financial services including the management of related legal, regulatory and reputational risks. Lucie has strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Lucie believes in the benefits that the garden provides to the community. She enjoys walking the grounds of the garden for its beautiful flowers and its serenity.

Susan Grundy
Vice Chair

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.

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.

Deborah Maw
Ex-officio, Garden Club of Toronto

Deborah is currently vice-president of the Garden Club of Toronto, of which she has been a member since 2015. Most recently, she co-chaired the GCT’s 75th anniversary symposium on sustainability. She has also previously served on the GCT as chair of the horticulture committee. Deborah has a background in museum studies and has worked in that capacity in both Ontario and Alberta, most notably at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Glenbow-Alberta Institute. She subsequently spent many years in the adoption field as executive director of Open Arms to International Adoption.

Deborah has been actively involved in volunteer activities with numerous other non-profit and charitable organizations, including Rosedale-Moore Park Association (Mooredale), the Junior League of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Federation of University Women and the Costume Society of Ontario. She has been president of Mooredale, the Junior League of Toronto and the University Women's Club of Toronto. Deborah recently became a horticultural judge through the Royal Botanical Garden School program, and enjoys experiencing all aspects of gardening which have been instilled into her by past and present family members. She is pleased to continue the legacy of the Garden Club of Toronto which established with other supporters the Civic Garden Centre in 1958 which later became the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Mark Pratt

Mark is a highly accomplished legal and compliance professional with over 30 years’ experience with several of Canada’s largest financial institutions. As a senior executive, he has acted as an advisor to public company and subsidiary boards with respect to strategic business development, M&A and corporate governance. Mark was responsible for regulatory relations, regulatory change and regulatory risk management matters in Canada, the US, the UK and the EU. He has also been a member of several for-profit and not-for-profit boards in the financial services industry. Mark has been a part-time lecturer in Administrative & Regulatory Law at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law at the Toronto Metropolitan University.

Mark is an enthusiastic amateur gardener who is proud of the rooftop terrace garden at his condo in Toronto, as well as the developing gardens at his country home in Dufferin County. He regularly seeks out beautiful parks and gardens to visit on his travels and is thrilled to be a member of the Toronto Botanical Garden board.

Haig Seferian

Haig Seferian has been Principal Landscape Architect of Seferian Design Group since 1992.  Haig has demonstrated strong industry leadership, participated in government affairs advocacy groups, and provided industry leadership.  He has designed and built tens of millions of dollars worth of public space community projects and he continues to provide public and industry education in the field of landscape architecture throughout North America.

For the last 30 years, he has been involved with municipal and provincial governments working to promote landscape architecture. Haig was past chair/co-chair of the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC). This was a position appointed directly by the Minister of Education for the Province of Ontario.

Haig is constantly promoting the profession at public events as well as teaching and guest speaking at Sheridan College, Humber College, Fanshawe College, Toronto Metropolitan University, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, The Royal Botanical Gardens, and Landscape Ontario.

As the first television show to appear on HGTV Canada, Haig hosted “Garden Architecture” for 65 episodes followed by authoring a book, “Hardscaping: High Style, Low Maintenance Outdoor Spaces”.  The show and the book have since been translated into numerous languages and presented internationally.  These accomplishments have led to hundreds of public and industry presentations throughout North America which he continues with today.

Martin Ship
Vice Chair

Martin is a communications and public affairs executive based in Toronto. Retired after a 30 year career with the Ontario Public Service he held a number of senior roles at the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Cabinet Office and Office of the Premier. He was most recently the Director, Corporate Policy and Public Affairs at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario ( Ontario's financial services regulator). He was responsible for a team of staff providing strategic communications, policy development, issues management, media relations and contact centre services.

Martin has also served on the Board of Directors for several not-for-profit organizations.  He was Board Chair of Davenport Perth Neighborhood and Community Health Centre, a multi-service agency located in Toronto' west end. He was on the Board Public Affairs Committee of the Ontario Arts Council.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Theater Museum Canada and the Palmerston Area Residents Association. Martin is an active urban gardener and volunteer with Scadding Court Urban Agriculture Program in Alexandria Park in downtown Toronto. He is passionate about architecture, theatre and gardening. Martin believes strongly in investing in the public realm to promote and expand access to nature.

Nancy Tong
Ex-officio Milne House Garden Club

Nancy is a retired teacher/librarian. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western University and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Toronto. She has been a member of Milne House Garden Club and the Toronto Botanical Garden since 1987. She served on the Milne House board for 7 years with two of these years as club president. During these years she has been actively involved in numerous fundraising projects directed toward the TBG. Currently she co-chairs the club’s major fundraiser Christmas with Milne House which enables Milne House to continue its support of the TBG with emphasis on education for children. She is responsible for the club’s in house communications as well as the creation of the Milne House newsletter 5 times yearly.

She is an enthusiastic gardener and floral designer. She can often be seen out walking with the Seniors for Nature Outdoor Club enjoying the beautiful walking trails in and around Toronto. In years gone by, Nancy brought her two eldest granddaughters (now at university) to summer nature camps at the TBG and is a big supporter of connecting children with nature.


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




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