Mark D. Smith, President
Mark is a partner in the law firm Goodwin Procter, specializing in technology start-up financing. A passionate advocate for native plants, he can often be found pulling invasives or planting natives in our Demonstration Garden or at his home. Mark brings valuable nonprofit experience, having served on multiple nonprofit boards. And we especially love his energy at our annual Plant Sale!
Candace Young, Treasurer
Candace's first career was in finance, and her second followed her deeper passion for landscape design. After studying as a master gardener and in several other programs, she ran her own design, installation, and maintenance business. She is now a community steward at Fresh Pond Reservation in Cambridge. She volunteers at Grow Native in many capacities, including her much appreciated role as Treasurer.
Hilary Shields, Clerk
Hilary is a Global HR Business Partner at Sanofi where she works with Specialty Care leaders to attract, develop, and retain talent. She joined Grow Native to learn how to support pollinators and quickly got engaged in a deeper appreciation of native plant ecology. Hilary is now transforming her own backyard and helping others do the same, to support not just pollinators, but birds and all wildlife.
Suzanne is a freelance graphic designer, specializing in projects for non-profit organizations. She was first introduced to native plants at a Grow Native Traveling Talk at her local public library. This motivated her to start transitioning her home garden and to advocate for native plants throughout her community, including as one of the founders of Andover Pollinator Pathway. She continues to be inspired by our workshops and lectures, volunteers at our Plant Sale, and enjoys our growing community.
Ruth is a landscape architect who first developed a keen interest in designing landscapes as functional ecosystems after reading Sara Stein’s book Noah’s Garden in 2004, and jumped at the opportunity to get involved in Grow Native at our founding. Recently retired from IBI Placemaking, formerly Carol R. Johnson Associates, she serves on the Committee for Public Planting in Cambridge, MA.
Ellen caught the native plant bug while working in landscape design and horticulture. These days she is increasingly involved in local climate planning and adaptation. Find her on the hiking trail, visiting a public garden, or shopping at the Watertown Farmer’s Market! Ellen completed a Certificate in Planting Design from Boston Architectural College, and a graduate degree in Environmental Science from Antioch-New England.
Alex Van Praagh
Alex is an MIT-trained architect who has worked internationally on universities, schools and hospitals. Currently he has a design-build practice in Cambridge where he and his wife are raising their three children. He is gifted at working with stones in the landscape and shaping small-scale places. He has served on the board since its inception where his appreciation for native plants has grown each year.
Heather Pruiksma, Executive Director
Before joining our team in early 2022 as our second chief executive, Heather spent two decades at Earthwatch Institute, most recently as Director of Program Delivery. She understands the importance of connecting science to citizen action, and is passionate about the value of individual and volunteer engagement in addressing environmental challenges. Her personal love of community theater and fun spirit infuses her approach to leadership.
Meredith Gallogly, Manager of Programs
Meredith joined Grow Native in 2014 as our very first paid staff person. She runs our Plant Sale, teaches numerous workshops, produces our eNews, and helps to manage programs overall. She received her BA from Smith College in Biological Sciences. An avid plant observer, she has been exploring the flora of metro Boston's region for much of the past decade. You definitely want to go on one of her plant walks!
Helene Sroat, Office Manager
A long-time volunteer at our plant sale, Helene joined our staff in 2021. She enjoys her coordinating role— interacting with members and the public while taking care of behind-the-scenes details for programs and operations. With a PhD. in Art History, she brings a passion for architectural and landscape design, and, like many of us, continually attempts to squeeze ever more native plants into her garden.
Volunteers of the Year
We are delighted to recognize the exceptional people who do so much every year to bring our programs to life.
Faith Calhoun: 2022 Volunteer of the Year
For her hard work at our plant sale and with preparing outreach materials. Faith is willing to jump into any task and take ownership of it— be it unloading plants, ringing up purchases, answering customer questions, or creating dozens of paper butterflies for a children's activity. We can always count on her to show up, including for an extra volunteer shift on a cold and rainy day.
Faith Justice: 2023 Volunteer of the Year
For saving the day at our plant sale this year. When we discovered that the lawn under our tents had not been mowed as planned, she retrieved her battery-powered lawn mower from home and diligently spent hours in 90 degree heat knocking back the knee high grass to make the space more accessible for our other set-up volunteers and later for our plant sale customers.
Thank you both! Ya gotta have faith!
Previous Volunteer of the Year award recipients.
2021 Robin Wilkerson For her work at many Native Plant Sales, especially showing up for a 6:00 AM plant delivery. 2020 Amy Meltzer For her exceptional advocacy for our mission throughout the community. 2019 Ellen Menounos For her highly skilled work at our Native Plant Sale, for so many years. 2018 Suzanne Korschun For volunteering in so many capacities— from Plant Sale, to Demo Garden, to the office. 2017 Virginia Kropas For the willingness to help with any task— staying to the very end at events, no matter how cold. 2016 Diana Brandi For her infectious enthusiasm for our mission, leading outreach and community projects in Nahant. 2015 Ruth Loetterle For her dedication in volunteering to help run more than 40 programs and events since 2010. 2014 Jonathan Baker For his commitment and help in managing the move of our IT infrastructure to our new office. 2014 Phil Lounsbury For hands-on leadership in renovating our new office and keeping all of us cleaning and painting! 2013 Joan & Phil Lounsbury For transforming their Melrose gardens; becoming community leaders and advocates for natives. 2012 Susan Bringola For her exceptional work as our volunteer bookkeeper over several years. 2012 Cynthia Frawley For the beautiful design of our flyers and printed communications, now and in the future!