White House Gardens Symposium Scholarly Contributors
May 2, 2019
Jim Adams has been gardening in Washington, D.C., for over 25 years. His D.C. career began at the U.S. National Arboretum, where he worked in the Fern Valley Native Plant Garden and then became Curator of the National Herb Garden. Following this, he served as Head Horticulturist for the British Ambassador’s Residence and then moved to the National Park Service to be Supervisory Horticulturist for the Office of the National Park Service Liaison to the White House. Currently, he is Horticulture Manager at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Jim is a graduate of Michigan State University and lives in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Matthew Costello
Dr. Matthew Costello joined the White House Historical Association in November 2016 after completing his Ph.D. and M.A. in American history at Marquette University. He received his B.A. in history and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He previously worked on the George Washington Bibliography Project for the George Washington Papers at the University of Virginia. He has received research fellowships from Marquette University, the Virginia Historical Society, the United States Capitol Historical Society, and the Fred W. Smith National Library at Mount Vernon. He has published articles in The Journal of History and Cultures, Essays in History, The Dome, and White House History. His book, The Property of the Nation: George Washington’s Tomb, Mount Vernon, and the Memory of the First President will be published by University Press of Kansas in fall 2019. Matthew also teaches a course on White House history at American University.
Paula Deitz, Editor of The Hudson Review since 1998. A Smith College graduate, she received her M.A. in French literature from Columbia University. She is a cultural critic who writes about art, architecture, design and landscape design as a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines both here and abroad. Her book Of Gardens: Selected Essays was published by Penn Press, soon to be released as an audiobook by Redwood Audiobooks. She is currently writing a book entitled Thibaut’s Heart: A Journey Through France and Time to discover, by retracing the route of the 13th-century poet Thibaut de Champagne, how contemporary France lives with its medieval past. In 2006, she received a Doctor of Humane Letters (hon.) from Smith College.
Meryl Gordon is an award-winning journalist and the author of three bestselling biographies of prominent women. She is the director of magazine writing at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, where she serves as a tenured professor. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she has written for The New York Times Book Review, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, the Wall Street Journal and Town & Country. In 2008, she published her first book, “Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach, about the elder abuse scandal revolving around philanthropist Brooke Astor. In 2014, she published “The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Copper Heiress Huguette Clarke. Her 2017 biography, Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend, was a New York Times bestseller.
As Director of Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks for twenty-one years, Gail Griffin preserved and interpreted the garden considered Beatrix Farrand’s greatest work. For accurate interpretation, Gail worked with garden historians and landscape architects; for preservation, she consulted with plant scientists including arborists, pathologists, and entomologists. She has visited and studied Farrand’s work in England and the United States. Throughout five years living in England and studying its gardens, Gail studied many of the antecedents of American gardens, notably the gardens that influenced Beatrix Farrand. As an adviser to other gardens, including Stratford Hall, Tudor Place, Barnsley Gardens, and the Cosmos Club, she recognizes the complexities that face historic properties. Gail is a decades-long board member of the Southern Garden History Society, working with garden historians and preservationists throughout the South. Gail graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of the Arts, followed by a Bachelor of Science in horticulture and a Master of Science in entomology from University of Georgia.
Mac Griswold, journalist, cultural landscape historian, and gardener, has been writing about gardens since 1987. She is at work on a comprehensive biography of Rachel Lambert Mellon rooted in Mellon’s gardens and the play between those gardens and her collections of garden books and works of art. Forthcoming in 2020 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Her previous books, Pleasures of the Garden: Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1987); The Golden Age of American Gardens: Proud Owners, Private Estates 1890-1940 (1991) with Eleanor Weller; Washington's Gardens at Mount Vernon: Landscape of the Inner Man (1999); and The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island (2013), explore connections between houses and their inhabitants, and between the land and its stewards. A member of the Stewardship Council of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, of the LongHouse Reserve Garden Committee, and the Library Committee of the New York Botanical Garden, she is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient (2003-04). She holds a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University (1964), and has taught courses at the New York Botanical Gardens in landscape history and at Sarah Lawrence 1993-95. She has written frequently for periodicals and newspapers.
Linda Jane Holden
Linda Jane Holden worked in the Reagan White House where she could see the historic gardens and grounds and talk with the gardeners every day. These unique friendships and insider views combined with extensive research offered many glimpses and insights into the challenges and triumphs of managing the White House gardens and landscapes over time. This perspective, along with an appreciation for White House history, led to the writing of The Gardens of Bunny Mellon, an illustrated biography that was published by Vendome Press in October 2018 and is in its third printing. Linda, a prominent public speaker, has authored The Gardens of Bunny Mellon, Hortus Journal of Gardening, UK, 2019; Lady Bird Johnson’s Whistle-stop Tour through the South, White House History, July 2017 and President’s Gardens, Shire Books, 2013. Linda is currently an educator living in Virginia to be near her three children and four precious grandchildren.
Thomas Lloyd is the grandson of late Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. His philanthropic perspective keenly aligns with that of his grandmother’s dedicated approach to the improvement of individual’s lives, using among other commitments both aesthetic and scientific knowledge and creative beauty. Thomas was appointed President of the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation in 2017 – a nonprofit entity engendered to support charitable and educational organizations seeking to improve well-being through the compilation of horticulture, conservation, sustainability, and the arts. So, from a young age, having been greatly influenced by his grandmother, Thomas has garnered a firm appreciation for the historical aspects of landscape architecture and design. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 2017 of The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. Thomas has taken his personal experiences and applied it to help others make more well-informed financial decisions. He joined Hemington Wealth Management in 2016 as a Wealth Advisor and consults regularly with affluent families and foundations on structuring and developing comprehensive financial plans which address both family dynamics and wealth optimization.
Thomas E. Lovejoy
Thomas E. Lovejoy (B.S 1964, PhD 1971, Yale University) is a tropical ecologist and conservation biologist who coined the term “biological diversity in 1980. He serves as one of the four trustees of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. He is University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University where he also leads the new Institute for a Sustainable earth. He has worked in the Amazon since 1965 and is an Explorer at Large at the National Geographic Society. He is a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation.
Anita McBride directs the Legacies of America's First Ladies Initiative at the American University where she serves as Executive in Residence in the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in the School of Public Affairs. Her White House service and experience spans two decades and three Administrations including as Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush. She is a frequent speaker and media commentator on White House history, its occupants and presidential transitions.
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Jim McDaniel graduated with a B.A. in Modern Languages from Northeastern University in Boston. While in college, he had a co-op position with the National Park Service as a student historian at Minuteman National Historical Park in Lexington, Massachusetts. After graduating, he served as a park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park, then moved to Washington, D.C., where he held various positions during his 34-year career with the National Park Service. When he retired from federal service in 2002, he was Director of White House Liaison, overseeing the maintenance and historic preservation of the White House and President’s Park. From 2002 to 2007, Jim was a self-employed consultant and served as Executive Director of the Christmas Pageant of Peace, Inc. From 2005 to 2016, he served as a program specialist with Food For The Poor, a large international charity. Jim currently serves as Chairman of the White House Endowment Trust and Secretary of the White House Historical Association. He has been a board member of the White House Historical Association since 1982. He also volunteers as coordinator of Operation Starfish?, the Haiti ministry at Nativity Catholic Church in Burke, Virginia.
Stewart D. McLaurin
Stewart D. McLaurin, as president of the White House Historical Association since 2014, leads the Association’s non-profit and non-partisan mission to support conservation and preservation at the White House with non-government funding. Under his leadership, the Association has expanded greatly in mission reach and impact; fundraising results; educational public programming and award-winning publications that teach the story of White House history; and related retail offerings inspired by history. For more than 35 years, McLaurin has held leadership roles with national non-profit and higher education organizations such as the American Red Cross, Georgetown University, and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
Dr. Therese O'Malley
Dr. Therese O’Malley is Associate Dean at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Her scholarship concerns the history of landscape architecture and garden design. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, (B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.), she wrote a dissertation on the planning of Washington, D.C. Her recent publications include Modernism and Landscape Architecture, 1890-1940, co-edited with Joachim Wolschke Buhlmann (2015), Keywords in American Landscape Design (2010), and The Art of Natural History, co-edited with Amy W. Meyers (2008), She has other publications and exhibitions on the history of landscape architecture, American garden design and the history of botanic gardens. In 2016, she was made a fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians. She has been president of the SAH, chair of the Association of Research Institutes in Art History and Senior Fellow in Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. Dr. O’Malley is a director of the Foundation for Landscape and for the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy in Baltimore. She serves as an advisor to the United States Ambassadors Fund and the New York Botanical Garden. She lectures internationally and was guest professor at Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University.
Dr. Susan Pell
Dr. Susan Pell is a botanist, science educator, author, and public garden administrator. She is the Deputy Executive Director of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., and has held positions at the New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Dr. Pell is the author of an illustrated glossary of botanical terminology, A Botanist’s Vocabulary, that is beautifully illustrated by Bobbi Angell. Her research specialty is the evolution of the cashew (Anacardiaceae) family and she holds a B.S. in biology from St. Andrews University in North Carolina, and a Ph.D. in plant biology from Louisiana State University.
Dede Petri was elected president of The Garden Club of America in 2017. Before assuming the presidency, Ms. Petri co-founded the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. She served as president and is currently a Senior Fellow. Ms. Petri also served as General Counsel and Congressional Liaison for the National Endowment for the Humanities and worked as a First Amendment and communications lawyer. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Harvard College with an A.B. in American history and literature and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has served on the boards of the National Association for Olmsted Parks, Friends of the National Arboretum and U.S. Capitol Historical Society. She was president of All Hallows Guild, Washington National Cathedral, and chairman of its Garden Committee. She currently sits on the Advisory Council of Seed Your Future and serves as a vice regent for Wisconsin and member of the Horticulture Committee of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Ms. Petri authored or co-authored studies including Restoring the Olmsted Woods, Ecological Restoration Magazine, University of WI Arboretum (2003); profiles, Handbook of American Women’s History (Sage Publications 2000); Losing America’s Memory (ACTA, 2000); and a chapter in Accountability in American Higher Education (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010). In 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published her book, What’s a Parent to Do? How to Help Your Child Select the Right College.
Jonathan W. Pliska
Jonathan W. Pliska, MHP, is a historian and author. His award-winning books, A Garden for the President: A History of the White House Grounds, and The White House Easter Egg Roll: A History for All Ages were published by the White House Historical Association. He has served as a contractor for the National Park Service's Historic American Landscapes Survey and the National Capital Region and written cultural landscape reports, contributed to National Register of Historic Places nominations, and uncovered new and exciting information for several important historic sites in the District of Columbia, including the Civil War Defenses of Washington and Theodore Roosevelt Island. He has also documented historically and biologically significant trees in the metropolitan area for the Witness Tree Protection Program. Most notably, while at the National Park Service, Jon began the long process of researching and writing the history of the White House Grounds, beginning with since the site’s 1789 inception and continuing up to the present time. Jon completed a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation at the University of Maryland-College Park and a Bachelor of Arts in History, Zoology, and Biological Aspects of Conservation, with a minor in Environmental Studies, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Frederick J. Ryan, Jr.
Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. is Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Washington Post. Previously, he was co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Politico. From 1989 until 1995, he served as Chief of Staff to former President Ronald Reagan. He was responsible for overseeing all of President Reagan’s activities including domestic and international issues, government relations, political affairs and public relations. He served as President Reagan’s personal representative in numerous meetings with Heads of State around the world, as well as leaders of the international business community. Mr. Ryan serves as Chairman of the White House Historical Association and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation, and Co-Chair of the National Archives Advisory Committee on Presidential Libraries. He serves on the Board of several other nonprofit organizations including the University of Southern California, Ford’s Theatre, The National Geographic Society, National Geographic Partners, and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Mr. Ryan graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Speech Communication in 1977, and received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern California Law Center in 1980.
Judith B. Tankard
Judith B. Tankard is an art historian specializing in landscape history. She received a B.A. in Art History from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and a M.A. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She taught at the Landscape Institute, Harvard University for over 20 years. In 2000, she was awarded a Gold Medal by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. She is the author or co-author of ten books on landscape history, including Gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement and Ellen Shipman and the American Garden, a winner of the 2019 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize. Beatrix Farrand: Private Gardens, Public Landscapes was named an Honor Book for the 2010 Historic New England Book Prize and A Place of Beauty: The Artists and Gardens of the Cornish Colony won an award from the Gardens Writers Association in 2001. Her books have been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Hubbard Educational Foundation. She edited The Journal of the New England Garden History Society and writes articles and reviews for Hortus and other publications. She is affiliated with several preservation organizations, including the Beatrix Farrand Society, the Garden Conservancy, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.
Tony Willis is the librarian at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation which is located near Upperville. He began working full-time for the Mellon family in July of 1980, and became Bunny Mellon’s assistant librarian in 1981, and then promoted to librarian in 1998. He helped with the production of the Oak Spring Garden Library series, and co-authored An Oak Spring Herbaria with Professor Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi from the University of Pisa. Tony is a native Virginian and has taken several classes at the Northern Virginia Community College, and he has attended Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. He is an avid reader and gardener, and developed a passion for gardening at a very young age. Today he has a small cottage-style garden in the village of Rectortown, which is located in northern Fauquier County, where he lives with his rescued pit-bull, ‘Bullitt’