American Public Gardens Association Conference 2018

Southern California

June 4-8, 2018

International Session and Dinner
Event Type: 
Meals & Events
Leadership, Innovation, and Advocacy
Date / Time: 
Mon June, 04 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Magic Kingdom Ballroom 1

Disaster strikes. In their immediate aftermath, emergency services are mobilized to provide safety. While some gardens plan for disaster, any affected garden has experiences to share and needs from short-to-long term afterward. This panel discussion focuses on gardens that have been impacted in various ways by disasters, in a year and area where so many were acutely impacted.

Members of our panel have experienced a wide variety of disasters in some shape or form. In several cases, they have both been impacted at one time through preparation or experience, and at other moments leant expertise to assist. Join us for this unique opportunity to hold a conversation surrounding these challenges, opportunities for assistance realized, and to begin to understand how we may coordinate efforts to help our gardens heal from these impacts when they occur in the future.

Featured in this session will be the Association’s Garden to Garden Disaster Response Center, and other resources available from the Association’s programs and operations to assist gardens everywhere in planning for, mitigating damage from, and responding to natural disasters.

Casey Sclar, Executive Director and Session Facilitator
Panelists and Presentations:
Christian Torres Santana: Director - Arboretum Parque Doña Inés, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Topic: Hurricanes
Joseph Cahill: Executive Director – Ventura Botanical Gardens, Ventura, CA
Topic: Wildfires
Chipper Wichman: President, CEO, and Director – National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG)
Topic: Flooding, Volcanic Activity, Hurricanes
Shawn Kister: Director, Grounds – Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
Topic: Extreme Snow/Ice
Cynthia Haruyama: Deputy Director, Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR
Topic: Earthquakes

Each Panelist will initially be allotted 3-5 minutes, using image heavy presentations to put their unique perspectives forward. Most of the session will be engaged in facilitated Q&A – thus this will be a “true panel discussion” as opposed to a series of presentations capped off with a short discussion.

We will have all presentations loaded before the session commences so there will be prompt transitions from one speaker to the next. The Q&A will be facilitated and seeded with initial questions, but it is expected that many questions will come forward for each panelist and the moderator will ensure a level of equity among panelists is maintained.

Dinner will follow in Sleeping Beauty Pavilion. The session-only portion of the evening will take place from 6:00pm until 7:30pm, there is no cost to attend the session. To attend the dinner, registration is required and a nominal fee  of $75.00 for attendees, $85.00 for guests applies.

Sponsored by:



About the Panelists:

Christian Torres Santana: Director - Arboretum Parque Doña Inés, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Christian Torres Santana is a botanist and horticulturist with 13-years of experience working with threatened and endangered plants and animals, planning and implementing conservation actions in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Most of his work experiences were as a botanist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Puerto Rico (2005-2006) and Hawai'i (2006-2010) and as a Forest Health Coordinator with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry of the USDA Forest Service in Puerto Rico (2010-2014). Born and raised in the southwestern town of San Germán, Puerto Rico, he studied Horticulture at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. He also holds a Master’s of Science in Botany with concentration in Conservation from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.

Mr. Torres Santana is currently the Director of the Arboretum Doña Inés Park of the Luis Muñoz Marín Foundation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, position he holds since January 2014. In his position, he oversees the direction of a 12-acre native plant arboretum, , an environmental education program, a native plant nursery, and a historic garden that forms part of the National Registry of Historic Places surrounding the house of former first elected governor, Luis Muñoz Marín.

Joseph Cahill: Executive Director – Ventura Botanical Gardens, Ventura, CA

Dr. Cahill is a botanist with over 20 years of professional experience in a combination of botanic gardens, conservation non-profits and NGOs, compliance with the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the horticulture industry. He has contributed in a leadership capacity to the Ventura Botanical Gardens since 2008. He holds a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of California Riverside and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan and is an adjunct professor at California Lutheran University.

Chipper Wichman: President, CEO, and Director – National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG)

Chipper joined NTBG's staff in 1976, after graduating from the Horticultural Internship program. He spent his early career developing Limahuli Garden. During this time, he obtained a Special Subzone designation in the Conservation District for the entire Limahuli Valley, restored ancient taro terraces, developed a collection of rare and endangered native Hawaiian plants, opened the garden to educational tours, and added the 989-acre Limahuli Preserve. Subsequently Limahuli was named the Best Natural Botanical Garden in the United States by the American Horticultural Society.

In addition to his work in conservation and education, he has led efforts to perpetuate and preserve native Hawaiian culture with projects such as a four-year Indigenous Communities Mapping Initiative Project at Limahuli.

When he assumed leadership of the organization in 2003, Mr. Wichman brought renewed focus to NTBG's conservation and horticulture efforts and a greater appreciation of the native Hawaiian culture. On April 29, 2018, Chipper received the Medal of Honor from the Garden Club of America for 40 years of work in horticulture and plant conservation.

Shawn Kister: Director, Grounds – Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

Shawn Kister is the Director of Grounds at Longwood Gardens where he manages the turfgrass, arborist, nursery, soils and compost and night gardener teams. He oversees the care of 170 acres of turfgrass, more than 5,000 trees (including the extensive outdoor Christmas light installation), the nursery operations, and night gardeners, who are responsible for greenhouse and Conservatory system controls after hours. While at Longwood, Kister spearheaded the development of Longwood’s progressive Turfgrass Management Program and the Tree Management Plan, which set the benchmark for public gardens.  In addition, he recently led the adoption and installation of new irrigation controllers at Longwood that allow for wireless, real time soil moisture and temperature data to be gathered, aiding in irrigation efficiency. In addition to his duties at Longwood, Kister has served on the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council since 2012, which supports turfgrass research at Pennsylvania State University. Kister holds bachelor’s degrees in Turfgrass Science and Agronomy from Penn State University.

Cynthia Haruyama: Deputy Director, Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

In her role as Deputy Director, Cynthia Johnson Haruyama coordinates the work of all of the Portland Japanese Garden’s programs and operations and oversees implementation of strategic long-term initiatives.  While CEO Steve Bloom takes the mission of the Portland Japanese Garden out into the world, Haruyama focuses on local and regional relationships with government entities, cultural organizations, public gardens and cultural partners. 

For the past 18 years, Haruyama has been in senior management positions for several of Portland’s public gardens.  Prior to joining the Portland Japanese Garden in 2012, she served as the Executive Director of Lan Su Chinese Garden and as Executive Director for Hoyt Arboretum. At both gardens, her first task was financial turn-around followed by a focus on visitor experience, long-range planning, capital renewal and replacement, and Board development. At both Lan Su Garden and Hoyt Arboretum, Haruyama re-started moribund fund development programs and raised significant funds for annual operations and major capital projects.  Haruyama’s interest in non-profit management and public gardens began after practicing corporate and business law followed by her role as General Manager and Sales Director for a garden equipment manufacturer.

In 2001, she and her family lived for a year in her husband’s hometown of Kagoshima, Japan and travelled extensively in Japan, especially in southern Kyushu. Throughout her time in Japan, Haruyama visited many of Japan’s famed gardens, and observed regional variations in gardens ranging from Kyoto to Kyushu and the Ryukyu islands. Haruyama graduated with honors in East Asian Studies from Princeton University. Her law degree is from Columbia University in New York.