Meet the volunteers who serve AHTA

Leigh Anne Starling, LCPC, CRC, HTR – President

Leigh Anne is a registered horticultural therapist and a certified rehabilitation counselor. She holds a BS in horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic and State University and an MS in rehabilitation counseling from San Francisco State University. She currently offers consulting services in horticultural therapy and supervises horticultural therapy interns. She leads the AHTA’s Professional Registration Review Board.

AHTA Past Presidents

MaryAnne McMillan, HTR

Gabriela Harvey, HTR

Lana Dreyfuss, HTR

Nancy Easterling, HTR

Karin Fleming, HTR

Maria Gabaldo, HTR

Martha Strauss, HTM

Rebecca Haller, HTM

Gene Rothert, HTR

Nancy Stevenson, HTR

Douglas Airhart, PhD, HTM

Judy Carrier, HTR

T. Kent Titze, HTM

Ken T. Stoutamire, HTM

Merle M. Moore

William Townsley, PhD

Paula Diane Relf, PhD, HTR

Earl Copus

Patricia Cassidy, HTR - Vice President

Patty lives and works in Portland, OR; she earned her HT certificate at Legacy Health System. She currently practices HT in several senior retirement communities, professionally gardens in therapeutic gardens, and is president of the Friends of the Portland Memory Garden. She is author of The Illustrated Practical Guide to Gardening for Seniors, published in the fall of 2011 by Anness Press in England. Patty chairs the AHTA Membership Work Team and the Certificate Review Board.

MaryAnne McMillan, HTR - Immediate Past President

MaryAnne is employed at Rutgers Garden and is a horticultural therapist at Allies Inc. in Hamilton, NJ, where she coordinates horticultural therapy programs for the Farm Day Program for Special Needs Adults. She also coordinates internships through these programs with Rutgers University and Temple University. She earned her Horticultural Therapy Certificate at the New York Botanical Garden.

Ranita Keener, HTR - Secretary

Ranita has been an AHTA member since 1987 and has nearly 30 years experience in working ina psychiatric facility where she as conducted horticultural therapy programs for 25 of those 30 years. She has provided programs for individuals in the many garden areas and in the greenhouse at East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta, GA. Advancing the profession to include licensing and/or certification is a goal of Ranita.  Ranita holds a BS in Horticultural Therapy from Kansas State University. 

Lana Dreyfuss, LCADC, BCPC, HTR - Treasurer

Lana has served on the AHTA board as past board member, secretary, president and is currently the Treasurer. As an HTR she began her career in horticultural therapy at Melwood. She received her masters from University of Maryland, and is currently a licensed counselor specializing in trauma and addictions. Her private practice, Creative Resources of People is inclusive of somatic experiencing, and horticultural therapy. Lana’s vision of AHTA is one of professional recognition through all allied health fields and certification for the horticultural therapist. She leads the AHTA marketing work team.

Nancy A. Minich, RLA, ASLA, HTR - Board Member

Nancy A. Minich is the principal of an award-winning east coast consulting landscape architecture, planning and horticultural therapy firm. Nancy has successfully integrated the basic principles of biophilia into her practices of regenerative landscape architecture and planning, and horticultural therapy. She teaches horticultural therapy courses at Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania and at The New York Botanical Garden. At Philadelphia University, in Philadelphia, Nancy teaches a required course on design and human behavior in the Architecture School to design majors.

Marion Myhre, TVI, HTR - Board Member

Marion is a horticultural therapist and horticultural teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind in the Secondary Program and Deaf/Blind Program for over 18 years. She is a Certified Teacher in Massachusetts, concentrating on Intensive Special Needs K-12 and a Teacher of Visually Impaired 5-8.  Marion has been an Internship Supervisor for both horticultural therapy and occupation therapy students and is an experienced presenter of horticultural workshops and training sessions for all ages. 

Todd Schappell, OTR/L - Board Member

Todd Schappell has been OTR/L for over 15 years working for the Good Shepherd Rehab Network in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Todd is also a Certified Dementia Practitioner. Todd's plant based background comes from his B.S. In Forest Science from Penn State and many years working as a Certified Arborist and Registered Pesticide Applicator.

Jennifer Smith, HTR - Board Member

Jennifer Smith brings over 20 years experience in the Horticulture industry to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Jennifer started her career at the Garden in the Education Division instructing nature-based classes to low income seniors and those living in the senior living community and now manages the Public Program Department which includes adult education, youth and family, and therapeutic horticulture. Jennifer also manages the Therapeutic Horticulture Programs, which work with a diversity of audiences such as children in long term rehabilitation hospitals, patients undergoing cancer treatment, and individuals who are blind and visually impaired among others. Jennifer is a registered Horticulture Therapist through the American Horticultural Therapy Association since 2006 and was the Bob Aldridge Advocate of the Year Award 2008 from the Missouri Governor’s Council on Disability Inclusion.

Derrick Stowell, CTRS, HTR - Board Member

Derrick has been working to develop horticultural therapy progreams at the Univeristy of Tennessee Gardens since 2013. These programs reach various community organizations including adults who have Autism, adults with intellectual disabilities, adults who have mental health issues, children with food allergies and adults with mental illness. He has also begun to develop partnerships with East Tennessee Children's Hospital and the University of Tennesee Medical Center to create healing gardens for their patients and staff.  Derrick has served in several leadership roles and has published papers on topics ranging from "Strengthening HT through Parntering" to "The Three R's: Rehabilitation, Recovery and Recreation." He has also presented a a number of conferences.

Rene Malone, CTRS, HTR - Board Member

Rene’ Malone is a registered horticultural therapist and certified therapeutic recreation specialist. Her business, The Therapeutic Vine, was started in 2008. Clients have included children and adults with developmental disabilities, seniors, adults with substance abuse and mental health disorders and children with behavioral disorders. A previous board member for five years, she has recently rejoined the board in effort to assist AHTA toward professional credentialing of horticultural therapists.

Jonathan Irish, LPC, HTR - Board Member

Jonathan Irish is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Registered Horticultural Therapist. Jonathan earned his MA at Denver Seminary and obtained his LPC while working at Health Solutions in Pueblo, CO. He attended the Horticultural Therapy Institute in 2014. He is employed at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, WI, where he is developing a hospital-wide horticultural therapy program. Jonathan runs horticultural therapy groups for inpatient and residential patients with eating disorders. His position also includes training other therapists, creating and modifying curriculum for the various patients served by Rogers, designing therapeutic landscapes, and developing outcome studies.