Meet the volunteers who serve AHTA

Erin Backus, CRC, HTR 
Erin is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a professionally registered Horticultural Therapist, receiving her certificate from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. She holds a BT in plant science from SUNY Cobleskill and an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from SUNY Buffalo. She serves as the Certificate Program Accreditation Review Board Chair, as well as the president of the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network. Erin is the lead Horticultural Therapist for Plant Happiness, LLC where she also serves as a distance supervisor. 


President Elect

Derrick R. Stowell, Ph.D., CTRS, HTR
Derrick is the Education and Horticultural Therapy Program Administrator for the University of Tennessee Gardens. Derrick is responsible for creating the University of Tennessee Gardens horticultural therapy program. He holds a BA in environmental studies and outdoor recreation from Maryville College and an MS in therapeutic recreation from the University of Tennessee. Derrick received his Ph.D. in plant, soil, and environmental sciences from the University of Tennessee. 

Ciri Malamud, CRC, HTR

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.

Gary L. Altman, CRC, HTR

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.  

Immediate Past President
Leigh Anne Starling, LCPC, CRC, HTR

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.

Debra Edwards, HTR

Debra is a registered horticultural therapist (2013) and received her horticultural therapy certificate from the horticultural Therapy Institute and a Bachelor of landscape architecture from Auburn University. Debra has 17 years of experience in landscape design and maintenance and 4 years of experience in horticultural therapy programming.  Now, Debra works as the horticultural therapist at the Life Enrichment Center in Shelby, NC. The population she serves includes adults with disabilities or dementia at two adult day care campuses.

Tim Garland, RLA

Tim is certified in Healthcare Garden Design through the Chicago Botanical Gardens. He has designed, programmed, and developed numerous gardens for various Rogers Memorial Hospital campuses around Southeast Wisconsin. Tim designed and developed a therapy garden program, Eldergarten, serving the low income and senior community of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Tim is currently an Eldergarten board member and continues to be active in the phasing of this project.

Nicole Giron, MPH, HTR, CTRS
Nicole is a registered Horticultural Therapist, receiving her certificate from the Horticulture Therapy Institute, as well as a Certified Recreation Therapy Specialist. She holds a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she also works as the Director of the Recreation Therapy program at UNMC’s Munroe Meyer Institute. Nicole works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan and teaches a variety of programs as well as incorporates horticultural therapy into her practice with the primary focus being on a farm to fork cultivation.

Kathy Perry, MA, OTR/L, HTR
Kathy is a licensed occupational therapist and a registered horticultural therapist. She holds a MA in occupational therapy from New York University. Kathy pursued her horticultural therapy education at Kansas State University as well as the New York Botanical Garden. She works as a horticultural therapist for students with significant developmental disabilities at the Monarch School of New England in Rochester, New Hampshire. Kathy also serves as secretary for the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network.


Laura Rumpf, HTR
Laura is a registered horticultural therapist in Seattle, Washington. She is currently an independent contractor working in adult group homes for those with dementia. Laura is in collaboration with the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department’s Dementia-Friendly program and the University of Washington Memory & Brain Wellness Center. She has contracted with the Brain Injury Alliance of WA state and Neighborcare Health. Laura received her certificate in horticultural therapy from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. 


Richard Slayton, RLA, ASLA, EDAC
Richard is a licensed landscape architect. He integrates biophilic design in healthcare and senior living environments throughout the United States. One of his most rewarding accomplishments is designing a one-acre healing garden in collaboration with St. Mary’s Foundation at SSM-Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville, Wisconsin. Richard just began a year-long commitment with the Center for Community Land Trust Innovation and a Hmong group to program, design and develop a dementia care garden.


Lynn Zeltman, HTR
Lynn has been a registered horticultural therapist since 2017. She earned her Certificate in Horticultural Therapy from Delaware Valley University in 2015 and did her internship at Moss Rehab, a physical medicine, and rehab facility, in 2016.  She is the treasurer for the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network.  


AHTA Past Presidents

  • 2015-2020 Leigh Anne Starling, LCPC, CRC, HTR
  • 2013-2015 MaryAnne McMillan, HTR
  • 2010-2013 Gabriela Harvey, HTR
  • 2007-2010 Lana Dreyfuss, HTR
  • 2002-2007 Nancy Easterling, HTR
  • 1999-2002 Karin Fleming, HTR
  • 1998-1999 Maria Gabaldo, HTR
  • 1996-1998 Martha Straus, HTM
  • 1994-1996 Rebecca Haller, HTM
  • 1992-1994 Gene Rothert, HTR
  • 1989-1992 Nancy Stevenson, HTR
  • 1987-1989 Douglas Airhart, PhD, HTM
  • 1986-1987 Judy Carrier, HTR
  • 1984-1985 T. Kent Titze, HTM
  • 1983-1984 Ken T. Stoutamire, HTM
  • 1980-1983 Merle M. Moore
  • 1979           William Townsley, PhD
  • 1975-1979 Paula Diane Relf, PhD, HTR
  • 1973-1975 Earl Copus