Board of Trustees

DANIEL BIFANO

PRESIDENT OF BOARD OF TRUSTEES

 

Dan has been on the Lotusland Board since 2014, and most recently served as Co-Vice President. Having been raised in the neighborhood, Dan has a long-time personal attachment to the garden, and his support and commitment to Lotusland is unwavering. Dan, a Master Rosarian, is well known in the Montecito and Santa Barbara gardening community for his exceptional knowledge of roses and has been designing gardens, especially rose gardens, since 1989. Dan is the owner of Bifano & Co., Inc., a property management company. He has served on boards or committees of nonprofits such as Central Coast Congregate Care (Sarah House and Heath House), Susan Love Breast Cancer Foundation, Santa Barbara Rose Society, A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden, and CALM. Dan has been a member and donor since 1993.

RON CAIRD

Ron was born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents from Scotland and England. His father was the head gardener on the large estate where they lived in Hollywood. His family moved to Santa Barbara where Ron attended Santa Barbara High School, taking a special interest in horticulture. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture. Ron worked for Mistletoe Sales, followed by a long career working at Griffin Tree and Landscape. He spent a large amount of his time working at Lotusland starting in 1968. In the early 1970s, Ron purchased property off south Patterson Avenue and began Por La Mar Nursery. Ron later sold Griffin Tree and Landscape to concentrate on the growth of the nursery. He remains very active in the nursery and sits on the Ag Advisory and Crop Science Advisory Committees at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and the Goleta Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Ron and his wife have supported Lotusland for 14 years.

GEOFF CRANE

Geoff’s interest in Lotusland is a direct result of his family’s past involvement with the landmark estate. His experience has been put to good use on Lotusland’s Facilities and Nomination/Governance committees. Geoff is President of Giffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc., with more than 38 years of experience in construction. He has served on advisory committees for the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, Children’s Museum Santa Barbara and is a member of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Business Leaders. Geoff previously served on the Board of Trustees at Crane Country Day School and remains active at an advisory level. Geoff lives in Montecito with his wife Kim; they have three grown children, William, Karrie and Samantha. Geoff has been a member and donor since 1995.

LESLEY CUNNINGHAM

Originally from Pasadena, and a sixth generation Californian, Lesley first fell in love with Santa Barbara while attending UCSB. After a long paralegal career in San Francisco and Los Angeles, she went on to practice law in Los Angeles and the tri-county area. She has practiced as a civil litigator and business transaction attorney, and has expanded her private practice to include estate planning. Lesley has served on the Board of Trustees at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. She has been an active contributor to the Environmental Defense Center, the Santa Barbara County Bowl, the Food Bank of Santa Barbara, Pacific Pride Foundation and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, as well as Lotusland. She is an avid environmental activist and gardener. Lesley has been a member and donor since 2006.

RACHAEL DOUGLAS

Rachael is a Montecito based real estate agent, specializing in unique and architecturally significant properties, including equestrian. Originally from Illinois, she spent most of her life in Telluride, Colorado, where she was a menswear buyer and later became a real estate broker. Her first visit to Lotusland was upon joining the Santa Barbara Newcomers in 2006. She was so moved by her initial visit to Lotusland that she made it a goal to become a docent. Nine years later she completed the docent training and has since been leading private tours. Rachael’s enthusiasm regarding the history and the evolution of the property starting is palpable. She currently sits on the Board of the Berkshire Hathaway Charitable Foundation, and is a supporter of the Music Academy of the West and Direct Relief International. Rachael is proud to be a member of The Lotus Society and adopted a lantern as a way to honor her grandfather and invest in the Japanese Garden Renovation.

DOROTHY H. GARDNER

Dorothy had a successful career in health finance and development. She was named founding President of the Michael Reese Health Trust in 1994, a post she held until her retirement in 2008. This private foundation endowment of almost $200 million funded health projects focused on access and quality for the underserved in the Chicago metropolitan area. In 2006 Dorothy and her husband, John, built a home in Montecito, where they now live part-time. Gardening has long been an avocation for the couple. Their former suburban Chicago garden is featured in the book EARTH ON HER HANDS, The American Woman in Her Garden by Star Ockenga. The garden was selected by the Garden Club of America to be documented for their archives at The Smithsonian. Dorothy has served on numerous civic committees and boards in Chicago. Currently she is on the board of the Chicago Botanic Garden, The Garden Conservancy (NY) and Direct Relief (CA). She holds a BA degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, an MA with honors (Lauréate) from Middlebury College and a “Diplôme de littérature contemporaine” from the Sorbonne. The Gardners have four children and five grandchildren. Dorothy has been a Lotusland supporter for 10 years.

ANTHONY GRUMBINE

Anthony is an Architect and Principal of Harrison Design’s Santa Barbara office, one of eight offices worldwide specializing in high-quality architecture in a range of styles. He received his bachelor’s degrees from Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in both Architectural Studies and Art History, and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame. In addition to being an architect, Anthony teaches drawing and architecture history at Santa Barbara City College and he is a “scholar” of George Washington Smith. Anthony serves on the city of Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission as Vice Chair and Architectural Historian, and is Second Vice President of the Board for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. He is active in a range of programs that promote the understanding and appreciation of architecture, including Coalition for Sustainable Transportation walking tours. Anthony has generously provided pro bono services over the last two years to modify Lotusland’s Visitor Center and guest entry, working closely with Gwen Stauffer and Geoff Crane. He is our newest Trustee and a recent donor.

ISABELLE HAHN

Belle was born into the cultural world of New York City with Central Park and the Met in her backyard, where her father, the renowned art dealer Stephen Hahn, exposed her to the finest art and music. Belle’s mother, Thomasine Richards, followed her instincts and moved the family to Montecito because she dreamed of a house surrounded by paradise. Growing up on Cold Springs Road with Lotusland in her backyard, Belle believed that her mother’s visions of paradise must have been Lotusland, where her imagination and love for the garden was nourished. Belle has been to almost every Lotusland Celebrates event with her father as she grew up—the creativity and brilliance there inspired her to support Lotusland galas after her father passed. Belle graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, but has had an eccentric educational journey, experiencing many different schools and learning environments. Ultimately, she followed her heart to Santa Barbara to live in paradise during her father’s last few years. Since his passing, she continues his legacy by supporting organizations he loved and she loves. Belle has been supporting Lotusland since 2010.

DAVID M. JONES

David is President of David M. Jones and Associates, a firm he created in 1985 that specializes in estate and insurance planning for families. David and his wife Judy are part-time residents, splitting their time between Montecito and Naples, Florida. David and Judy discovered Montecito on a California vacation almost 20 years ago. They are very involved in their scholarship fund for high school seniors and have awarded dozens of college scholarships over the last 10 years. He is a passionate Burgundy wine collector as well as a member of the Chevaliers du Tastevin based in France. David and Judy have been Lotusland members and supporters since 2012, and are Lotus Society members.


JOSEPH MAREK

Joseph was drawn to gardening and the arts when he was a boy. Growing up in an Air Force family and living in such far-flung places as South Texas, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the German Rhineland, he was exposed to a multitude of climates and plant communities, and to the gardening traditions in each of them. After graduating from Yale with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and the University of Virginia with a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture, he settled in Southern California in 1994. He worked with Nancy Goslee Power in Santa Monica for over six years before establishing the office of Joseph Marek Landscape Architecture in 2001, specializing in residential projects at a variety of scales throughout California. Joseph is a licensed landscape architect and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Garden Conservancy and on their West Coast Council. He is also a Regional Representative for The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program and has organized and shaped highly successful Open Days, managing a team of nearly 100 volunteers, in Los Angeles for the past ten years. Joseph began visiting Lotusland shortly after his arrival in California and has been a member and supporter since 2015. He lives in Santa Monica with his partner John Bernatz.

SUZANNE MATHEWS

Suzanne was a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and founder of the Winston Salem Light Project, a multimedia public art presentation using prominent downtown landmarks as the canvas. Suzanne is also a past board member of the Museo Alameda in San Antonio, the Smithsonian’s first formal affiliate focused on the contributions of Latinos to art, history and culture in America, as well as the Drama League in New York City and the San Antonio River Foundation. Suzanne is a graduate of Finch College, where she majored in art history. Following graduation she worked with one of her professors on an exhibition of art deco architecture which was pursuant to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has an extensive background as an art gallery owner and private art dealer. Suzanne is a Director of Lucifer Lighting Company and has assisted the International Association of Lighting Designers with fund raising and benefit functions. She is married to Gilbert Lang Mathews and they have three children, Alexandra, Benjamin and Roselyn, and divides her residencies between San Antonio, TX, and Santa Barbara. Suzanne and Gilbert have been members and supporter of Lotusland since 2010 and are Lotus Society members.

MIMI MICHAELIS

Mimi was born in Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Adelphi University in New York. She traveled extensively before coming west to Sun Valley, Idaho, where she met her future husband while on a small plane, and they eventually moved to Los Angeles. Mimi has been very active in the Santa Barbara community since moving here in 1999 after her husband passed away. She has served on the Women’s Board of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Maritime Museum Auxiliary Board and the non-profit Adventures in Caring Board for many years. Mimi was President of the Women’s group of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club after serving as treasurer for two years and on the hospitality committee for two years. Mimi has been a Lotusland member and donor since 2000, and is a Lotus Society member.

ALEXANDRA MORSE

Alexandra attended Briarcliff College and Parsons School of Design in New York, and owned and operated a design business for 45 years. Along with her husband, Charlie, Alex spent most of her adult life in Seattle, where she was a member of the Seattle Garden Club. She served on the boards of Swedish Hospital Foundation, University of Washington Arboretum, ARCS (Achievement Rewards For College Scientists), a Contemporary Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet, and she chaired numerous fund-raising parties and auctions. Alex and Charlie recently moved to Carpinteria to be closer to their daughter and three grandchildren, who live in the Los Angeles area. Alex is a member of the Garden Club of Santa Barbara. She and Charlie have been donors and members since 2016.

CONNIE PEARCY

Connie is a 6th-generation Texan from Dallas. She and her husband, John, bought a home in Santa Barbara in 1999 and divide their time between Dallas and Santa Barbara. Connie has served on many boards and committees for years in Dallas, but Lotusland is her first in Santa Barbara. She was also on the Girls Inc. board and 100 luncheon committee. Although she and John have their roots in Dallas where John is involved in real estate development, their plan is to be in Santa Barbara full-time. Connie says that after discovering Lotusland, they were hooked and now choose to support the garden as one of their major loves in Santa Barbara. Connie and John are Lotus Society members and have been members and supporters of Lotusland since 2000.

EILEEN RASMUSSEN

Eileen was born in New York and raised in Portugal and then Napa Valley. An early childhood in Portugal cemented her love of the gardens of Europe. She attended school in Napa and college at the University of Southern California. In 1993, she moved to Santa Barbara to marry her husband Alex, an Industrial Designer, who designs and manufactures products that are exported internationally. Eileen was an active member of the Junior League of Santa Barbara for 11 years and continues today as a sustaining member on the board of directors. She also served on the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum Board of Directors. Eileen and Alex have been donors and members since 2009.

JEFFREY ROMANO

A native Californian, Jeff is originally from San Jose. He has enjoyed gardening since he was able to walk and shares his grandmother’s passion for growing and nurturing plants. Today, Jeff enjoys focusing his gardening on indoor plants and container gardening. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Accounting and Finance from Santa Clara University. He recently retired from a challenging 35-year career with Chevron Corporation in a number of roles, including Finance Manager, Chevron Oronite; Group Manager, Corporate Audit; Internal Controls Manager, SEC Coordinator, and Accounting Policy Manager, Corporate Controller’s Office. Chevron generously matched many of Jeff’s donations to Lotusland over the years. Jeff and his spouse Stan Shayer have enjoyed visiting and supporting Lotusland for the past 13 years, and are Lotus Society members.

STEPHEN P. SCHAIBLE

Stephen is a Senior Advisor with Evercore Partners, a global independent investment bank specializing in mergers and acquisitions. In a 36 year career he has lived and worked in New York, London and Tokyo. Before joining Evercore in 2007 he headed the global chemicals industry practice at Citigroup, and prior to that, at J.P. Morgan. He moved to Santa Barbara from New York City in 2012 with his partner, Daron Builta, and is actively involved with the Music Academy of the West and All-Saints-by-the-Sea. Stephen has been a member of the Lotusland Finance Committee since 2016, and is the current chair. Stephen also serves on the board of the Family Independence Initiative, an innovative Oakland, CA, organization dedicated to changing the narrative around families in poverty in the United States. Stephen has a deep love ofgardens and landscape architecture, and recently completed an extensive re-landscaping of his Montecito garden, working with Isabelle Greene. He is a 1981 graduate of Princeton University with a degree in history. Stephen has been a member and donor since 2013.

GEORGE SCHOELLKOPF

George is originally from Dallas, Texas, where he planted his first garden. He holds a Master’s degree in Art History from Columbia University, and for many years he ran a New York gallery specializing in 18th- and 19th-century American antiques and folk art. He divides his time between Hollister House, in Washington, Connecticut, and his home in Santa Barbara. The Hollister House garden is an American interpretation of classic English gardens—formal in structure but informal and rather wild in its style of planting. Begun in 1979 by George and Ron Johnson, the garden has evolved under George’s direction into a unique synthesis of formal and natural, with a magnificent backdrop of exuberant plantings. In 2005, George entered into an agreement with the Garden Conservancy to donate the house, garden and 25 acres, to the non-profit Hollister House Garden Inc., where George is President of the Board. George is a trustee of the Garden Conservancy and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. George and his partner, Gerald Incandella, built a home and created magnificent gardens in Summerland where they hosted a Lotus Society luncheon in 2012. George has been a Lotusland member and donor since the garden opened in 1993.

MICK THOMAS

Mick is the founder of Cornerstone Advisory & Capital Management and co-founder of Cielo Cornerstone, LLC, alternative investment management firms specializing in distressed debt and real estate investment. Mick has over twenty years of professional experience in investment, finance, corporate development, and strategic management in various executive roles. Mick has been a Lotusland trustee since 2015 and a member of our Finance Committee since 2012. Mick has served as Treasurer on the Executive Committee, Chair of the Finance Committee and a member of the Audit Committee. Mick’s wife, Kim, has been an invaluable member of the Lotusland Celebrates committee. Together with their daughters, Emilia and Elena, Mick and Kim are members and supporters of Lotusland since 2012.

CAROLINE THOMPSON

Caroline Thomson is a principal of Cabana Home, a home furnishing and design store. Her involvement and growing passion for Lotusland began with the Cabana Home transformation of the pavilion into a luxury “stay-cation” auction item for Lotusland Celebrates in 2009. She has been a member of the Lotusland Celebrates committee for the past six years in various roles including auction co-chair and tri-chair. Caroline co-chaired the Gifts for the Garden campaign with Connie Pearcy in 2013. Caroline has been a Lotusland member and supporter for 12 years. Caroline graduated with a B.S. from the University of Texas. The Texas ties continue with a Millennial daughter, Caroline, living and working in Dallas whose dream one day is to be married at Lotusland! Caroline serves on the Girl’s Inc. board, the executive committee and the 100 committee. She co-chaired the 2014 Christmas at the Casa (Del Herrero) and is a member of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art PhotoFutures and All Saints by the Sea Flower Guild.

RICK VITELLE

Rick was the Executive Vice President and former CFO of CalAmp Corp., a technology company providing wireless communications solutions. Previously he served as CFO of SMTEK International, an electronics manufacturing services provider, Corporate Controller of Data-Design Laboratories, a diversified technology company, and Senior Manager with Price Waterhouse, where he earned his CPA license. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Cal Poly Pomona where he graduated summa cum laude, and an MBA from UCLA. Rick and his wife Sheila live in Ventura County and Rancho Mirage. During their travels they have toured dozens of public and private botanical gardens throughout Europe, Morocco, South Africa, South America and Asia. Closer to home, Rick and Sheila are members and donors to Lotusland since 2003, and recently joined TheLotus Society. They also support The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, Ventura Botanical Gardens and The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. Rick is also a member of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America and the Mediterranean Garden Society.

Lifetime Honorary Trustees
Merryl Brown
Robert J. Emmons
Arthur R. Gaudi
Kisa Heyer

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