Tracy joined the Ruth Bancroft Garden 4 years ago, after leaving her job at Verizon Wireless. After almost 30 years of service she felt it was time to leave the corporate world behind and pursue her true passions: animals and gardening. Tracy is an avid animal activist and has volunteered for various rescue groups and shelters. Her business experience and love for gardening makes her a great fit for The Ruth Bancroft Garden. She started out as Office Manager, then Event Manager, Sales Director, COO, and now CEO-Executive Director. Her focus is on preserving Ruth’s vision for the Garden while giving our visitors an outstanding customer experience. She loves that each day is a new adventure that allows her to meet so many great people and their dogs. And you will usually find one of her own dogs by her side.
Brian has been at The Ruth Bancroft Garden since 1980. He is highly regarded in the horticultural world and is a prolific writer and lecturer on botanical topics, especially relating to succulent plants. Brian has a B.A. in Philosophy from Antioch College, and he began concentrating on succulents soon after moving to San Francisco in 1971. Brian's work for The Garden has included hybridizing aloes, agaves, gasterias and some South American cacti. Brian has traveled extensively in Mexico, Madagascar and southern Africa, studying and photographing plants in their native habitats. His gardening column “On the Dry Side” appears in several newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, and his photos have been published in numerous books on succulents.
Walker joined the staff at RBG in January 2012 and since then has come to function as custodian of the Garden’s aesthetic. He acts as point person in the collaborative process of preserving, renovating, and rejuvenating Mrs. Bancroft’s beds, taking particular joy in sculpting undulating mounds and arranging rocks in the Garden to form a unifying backdrop and compositional foil to the Garden’s plant collection. Along with the curator he propagates rare succulents from seed to be used in the Garden and manages care of the private collection. His most significant contribution to the plant palette has been the donation of a cycad collection, which he has used as an intermediate texture connecting the garden’s collection of radially symmetrical rosettes with its softer drought-tolerant herbaceous perennials.
Martín is the senior gardener, having worked at the Garden since 1990. He moved to Bakersfield, California from Mexico in 1984, where he began to work in vineyards there. His cousin first introduced him to the Bancroft's in the late 1980s and he soon moved to the Walnut Creek area to begin work in Ruth’s garden. He did not know much about cactus and succulents at the time and Martín said at first he did not enjoy working with the especially spikey cacti. He wondered how Mrs. Bancroft could handle them without wearing any gloves. After six months though he began to really enjoy the job, though he does wear gloves when working with cacti. He currently divides his time between Mrs. Bancroft’s private gardens and the Ruth Bancroft Garden. Martín also has his own landscaping business, and enjoys cooking for a special event catering business he created called “Tacos Michoacanos” providing signature dishes for weddings and other private gatherings.
Alice’s roots in the horticulture world are long and strong! After graduating from UC Berkeley in Forestry and Music, she has worked at the New England Wildflower Society’s “Garden in the Woods,” Arnold Arboretum, Descanso Gardens and Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawai’i. Alice joined the Garden staff in February 2016 from the volunteer ranks of the Garden, where she had been assisting Curator Brian and Horticulturist Ryan in plant records management. She now manages and facilitates the Education Department and Volunteer and Intern Programs at the Garden.
Raised in the Bay Area, Kim has been volunteering with local non-profits since she was a teenager. Joining the Ruth Bancroft Garden staff in early 2019, was a perfect fit. Kim wears many hats at the Garden, when taking a quick break you may see her feeding the Koi at the Pond, a perfect reset button during a busy day. When not at the Garden, Kim is busy with her family, volunteering for her son's local school and the Walnut Creek Libraries. She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, hiking, and traveling.
Landscape Designer and Nursery Operations Manager
Plant centered design is the focus of all of Cricket’s work at the Garden. From designing gardens, to giving workshops, from writing about plants in the newsletter to ordering plants for the Nursery, educating people on the beauty, diversity and sustainability of regionally appropriate planting is always her goal. “Your garden should look good, feel good and do good. If we’ve accomplished those three things, then we’re successful” Cricket has an AA in Landscape Architecture from Merritt College, a BA in History from UC Santa Cruz, and an MA in Broadcast Journalism and Near Eastern Studies from NYU.
Member and Donor Database Associate
Jenny grew up just outside of Columbus Ohio and always dreamed of moving out west to work in the television and film industry. After graduating college, a friend invited her out to Hollywood to intern at a production company. After a few stressful years in the industry, she decided she needed to take a “small break” to clear her mind and set her intentions. She thought that working at a botanical garden might be just what she needed and soon began working in Visitor Services and then Membership at Ganna Walska Lotusland, a botanic garden in Montecito, California. From this experience, Jenny developed a passion for donor engagement and fundraising and she has never looked back. Her career includes fundraising at UC Berkeley within the Engineering Department and most recently at the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Her three years at UCBG include being the Membership Manager and most recently the Development Associate. Jenny is always driven to fund raise for institutions that she feels make a difference in the world. She understands the importance of what public Gardens like Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery bring to a community. It is a place to inspire, learn and grow from, in addition to being a safe space for all.
Children's Education Manager
Marie joined the Ruth Bancroft Garden as a member when she first arrived to Walnut Creek 3 years ago. She became a garden docent and also guided school classes. Marie has, while she stayed at home to raise her kids, been on the boards for an HOA, a MOM's club, PTA and PTO as an officer. She is a graduate of University of Uppsala and has also studied psychology at College of the Canyons. Marie has a passion to learn new things and to share her knowledge with others. Marie believes that we learn by using all of our senses and will strive to incorporate sensory experiences into the children’s education programs. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, jewelry making and printmaking
Analisa is an East Bay native and has always loved plants and the outdoors. She has a Bachelor's in History and Museum Studies from San Francisco State University. Prior to joining the RBG staff, Analisa worked with the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy in San Francisco where she gave talks about their history, wildlife and restoration efforts; lead volunteer programs and discovered her love for working with native plants. She has also worked at the Sill, where she gained knowledge of over 50+ indoor plans that greatly influences her home life as a plant parent. When not hanging out with plants she is reading, painting, visiting museums, or just hanging out outside on a sunny day.
Nursery Floor Lead
A passion and love for plants, especially cacti and succulents, first brought Teddy to visit the Garden in early 2020. He became a Member and then joined the Nursery Sales Staff team shortly thereafter. Prior to Covid, Teddy worked professionally as a member of the stage actors union, performing locally as well as internationally. In his free time, you'll likely find Teddy working in his own garden with the reliable help of his rescue pup, Dweebs. Other hobbies include mushroom foraging, disc-golfing, upcycling, and backyard birdwatching. Teddy received his MFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University, and a BA in both Psychology and Musical Theater from CSU, Chico.
Associate Landscape Designer
Angela grew up amidst the stunning diversity of flora and fauna of the Appalachian Mountains. Gardening and landscape design occupy her thoughts most of the time. She is creative, active, and always wants to be surrounded by nature’s beauty. Prior to her work with the Ruth Bancroft Garden and Nursery, she worked in a U.C. Davis Viticulture and Enology Group studying nitrate levels in soils. For five years, she managed the grounds of an exquisitely planted historic estate in Davis, CA. She later piloted Colusa County's first Farm-to-School Program, working with students and stakeholders to design and build gardens at area schools. She holds a BS in Horticulture from U.C. Davis, where she benefited from the program's emphasis on sustainability. Angela believes residential and public gardens are a vital component of a healthy world and she is thrilled to be part of the RBG team.
Szymon joined the staff in May 2020, after volunteering at the Garden for a couple of months. He has a Bachelor’s in Zoology from Roehampton University in London, where he also worked as a Research Assistant and Lab Technician. In addition he holds a Master’s in Ecology degree from the University of Brighton. In his free time, Szymon’s all about nature and outdoors: from cultivating cacti and other succulents in his own garden and greenhouse to spending months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or living off the land in the Rocky Mountains in Idaho.
Sue found her way to the Garden after decades in the publishing industry. Wanting a career change to something related to her BS in Environmental Resource Management, she threw herself into the world of botany through volunteering at the California Academy of Sciences and on The Living Roof, where various California native plants are tended to by a dedicated group of volunteers. That volunteer opportunity sparked her interest in gardening, horticulture (specifically California native flora), and habitat restoration, and she is now finishing up a horticulture certificate at a local community college. At the Garden, it’s Sue’s job to assist customers, wrangle the inventory, process invoices, and order plants. In her limited free time, Sue can be found in her backyard pulling weeds and propagating plants, on a trail hiking with her family, on her couch watching an absurd amount of football (aka soccer), or maybe, if she’s really lucky, on some body of water kayaking.
Julia is originally from Guatemala but relocated to the East Bay with her family when she was 5 years old. When the pandemic hit, she quickly found a lot of time on her hands and found solace in plants and gardening. In between volunteering and mastering her home gardening craft, she started a small business, Baller Planter, where she repurposes basketballs and turns them into hanging planters. During her off time, Julia can be found either in her garden or on a quick getaway near a body of water with her partner and Rottweiler Paxton.
Tawny was born and raised in the Bay Area and has spent the last several years working private events in the hospitality industry. She graduated from Los Medanos College in 2018, completing 2 Liberal Arts Degrees with a focus in Social/Behavioral Science and Arts/Humanities. If not at the Garden, you will usually find her reading, spending time in nature with her partner, playing in the dirt with her plants or hanging out with her tuxedo cat, Charles Darwin.
Sarah is a Bay Area native who is passionate about design and plants. Her journey to the garden was a winding one; Graduating with a BA in Psychology and English at UC Davis, becoming a Nanny, a Behavioral Therapist, and then a Preschool Teacher before finally deciding to go back to school and make a large career pivot. She jumped into her new role in Marketing as she earned her MA in Graphic Design and Digital Media at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Sarah runs PseudoSarahLetters selling modern embroidery art and when she’s not designing at the Garden, you can find her stitching, going for long walks while listening to true crime podcasts, and spending time with loved ones.
Monica joined RBG as a Nursery Intern and has become involved in many aspects, helping out with private events, the Nursery, and marketing. As a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California with a degree in Global Business, she loves being able to combine her appreciation for sustainable gardening with an international business perspective. Prior to working at RBG, Monica studied abroad in Florence, Italy, worked at a nursery in her hometown of Modesto, and interned for a tech startup. When she’s not at the Garden, she enjoys shopping second-hand, practicing her film photography, and trying new recipes.
Membership Marketing Associate
Monique is a proud Bay Area native who grew up just blocks away from Ruth Bancroft Garden. With a previous professional career primarily in the visual arts, including local organizations like the Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA, Monique sees the beauty of Ruth’s garden comparable to the colors, forms, and composition of modern masterpieces. She looks forward to learning more about drought-tolerant gardening and the wide assortment of the Garden's plants from her co-workers and RBG members. In her spare time, she continues to enjoy visiting the latest, current art exhibit and going on outdoor adventures with her Scottish terrier, Islay.
Jacki has been bridging the world of special education and advocacy for many years, all the while volunteering and managing volunteers for various community causes. Jacki first fell in love with the Ruth Bancroft Garden many years ago, when she took her own kids to its fabulous children’s education programs. Since then, she has been chasing a similar dream as did Ruth Bancroft - surrounding herself with all the beautiful colors, textures and forms found in plants. When Jacki is not out in the community, she can be found in her own garden, watching the birds, whispering to her kitty, or joking around with her family. Jacki's role as the Volunteer Coordinator at RBG is the perfect marriage of her love of volunteerism and horticulture.
Assistant Kiosk Manager
Alice is an East Bay native who grew up boating the rivers of the west coast. Being in the wild as a child fostered an intense interest in the natural world and ecology. She spends her spare time in botanical gardens, searching for fungi, and walking her lazy dog, Sway.
Daniel is a deep-rooted East Bay native with an admiration for succulents and cacti. He received an Associates in Science in Agriculture Plant Science and a Certificate of Achievement in Plant Science and Horticulture from Diablo Valley College. He also has two years of experience as a student worker for DVC's Horticulture unit, working in the nursery and teacher assisting with classes. In his free time, Daniel enjoys designing succulent dish gardens, tending to his edible plants, and hiking with his dog.
Staff portrait photos by Ashlee Urmson of Zella Urmson Photography, and other photographers.
Banner photo by John Ricca