Meet the volunteers who serve AHTA

Leigh Anne Starling, LCPC, CRC, HTR – President

Leigh Anne is a registered horticultural therapist, certified rehabilitation counselor, and a licensed clinical professional 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 works in a mental health setting where she incorporates horticultural therapy into her practice. Leigh Anne provides instruction to horticultural therapy supervisors. She chairs 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 is a registered horticultural therapist and lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Patty earned her therapeutic horticulture certificate at Legacy Health System. She currently practices in several senior retirement communities 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. Patty chairs the AHTA Membership Work Team and the Horticultural Therapy Certificate Accreditation Review Board.


Lana Dreyfuss, LCADC, LPC, SEP, HTR - Treasurer

Lana is a registered horticultural therapist, licensed professional counselor, and somatic experiencing practitioner. She received her MS from University of Maryland-College Park. Currently Lana works in mental health, specializing in addictions and trauma. Her private practice, Creative Resources of People, utilizes somatic experiencing and horticultural therapy.

Ranita Keener, HTR - Secretary

Ranita is a registered horticultural therapist and has been a member of AHTA since 1987. She holds a BS in horticultural therapy from Kansas State University. Ranita has been employed at East Central Regional Hospital (ECRH) in Augusta, GA since 1987 and has practiced horticultural therapy there with adult mental health and forensic individuals. Ranita currently hold a position as Clinical Services Coordinator for forensic services at ECRH. She chairs the AHTA Awards Review Board.

MaryAnne McMillan, HTR - Immediate Past President

MaryAnne is a registered horticultural therapist. MaryAnne is employed at Rutgers Garden and is a horticultural therapist at Allies Inc. in Hamilton, New Jersey, where she coordinates horticultural therapy programs for the Farm Day Program for adults with diverse needs. She also coordinates internships through these programs with Rutgers University and Temple University. MaryAnne earned her Horticultural Therapy Certificate at the New York Botanical Garden. She is the AHTA Nominations and Elections Review Board Chair.


Jonathan Irish, LPC, HTR - Board Member

Jonathan is a licensed professional counselor and a registered horticultural therapist. He earned his MA at Denver Seminary and attended the Horticultural Therapy Institute in 2014. He is employed at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, WI, as the horticultural therapy coordinator. Jonathan runs horticultural therapy groups for inpatient and residential patients with eating disorders, trains other therapists, creates and modifies curriculum for the various patients served by Rogers, and helps design therapeutic landscapes.

Rene Malone, CTRS, HTR - Board Member

Rene' 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 intellectual disabilities, seniors, adults with substance use and mental health disorders, and children with behavioral disorders. René is currently the Editor-in-Chief for the AHTA Magazine.


Derrick Stowell, CTRS, HTR - Board Member

Derrick is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and a registered horticultural therapist. He is the Education Director for the University of Tennessee Gardens. Derrick directs community programs including horticultural therapy for a variety of populations including adults with autism, intellectual disabilities, and mental health challenges, also children with food allergies. Derrick is currently pursuing his PhD in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Science at the University of Tennessee with a focus on horticultural therapy.

Jennifer Smith, HTR - Board Member

Jennifer is the Public Programs Manager and registered horticultural therapist at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Jennifer started her career instructing nature-based classes to low income seniors and the senior living community. Her department has grown to serve diverse audiences such as children in long term rehabilitation, the cancer support community, and kids in crisis. Jennifer received her BS in Plant and Soil Science-Landscape Design from SIU-Carbondale. She serves as the AHTA Conference Work Team Leader.

Gary L. Altman, CRC, HTR - Board Member

Gary is a professionally registered horticultural therapist and certified rehabilitation counselor. He earned his horticultural therapy certificate at Rutgers University, where he also holds an MS in rehabilitation counseling. Gary is a lecturer, and the associate director of the Rutgers University horticultural therapy program, and specializes in horticultural skills training and supported employment for individuals with disabilities.  

Debra Edwards, HTR - Board Member

Debra is a registered horticultural therapist and received her horticultural therapy certificate from the Horticultural Therapy Institute, and a BS of landscape architecture from Auburn University. Debra has 17 years of experience in landscape design and maintenance and now works as an activities coordinator and horticultural therapist in Nashville, Tennessee. The populations she serves include residential and adult day clients at Abe's Garden Alzheimer's and Memory Care Center of Excellence.

Ciri Malamud, CRC, HTR - Board Member

Ciri is a certified rehabilitation counselor and a registered horticultural therapist. She is currently conducting therapeutic garden programs in NYC Parks (Brooklyn) for young disabled adults who have aged out of the NYC education system. Ciri is a co-founding partner of TandC Associates, LLC, consulting with programs of psychosocial rehabilitation and horticultural therapy in the United States and overseas (Norway, Haiti, and Australia) to promote self-empowerment and progress through informed choices.

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

Nancy is a registered horticultural therapist and registered landscape architect. Nancy is the principal of an award-winning consulting landscape architecture, planning and horticultural therapy firm, where she focuses on designing public horticultural therapy programs and gardens. Nancy’s design and therapy work has been published and featured in the press. She manages the horticultural therapy program at Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania and teaches at New York Botanical Garden. Nancy is the Fundraising Work Team leader.

Alicia Green, HTR - Board Member
Alicia is a registered horticultural therapist and the Coordinator of the Buehler Enabling Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She delivers on-site therapeutic horticulture programs, maintains the Enabling Garden, is faculty for the Garden's Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program, and oversees the Veteran Internship Program. She has a BA from University of Illinois and a MA in counseling from Northeastern Illinois University. Alicia received her horticulture therapy training through the Chicago Botanic Garden Certificate Program.

Markus Wullimann, HTR - Board Member
Markus is a registered horticultural therapist and the farm manager for CooperRiis where he works with adults who have mental illness. Markus graduated from ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences) with a BS in horticulture and has extensive experience in ornamental horticulture both internationally and in the United States. Markus received his horticultural therapy training through the Horticultural Therapy Institute. Markus previously served on the AHTA Board of Directors in 2006 through 2012.