As one of the world’s great gardens, Longwood welcomes passionate professionals from around the globe for our renowned Fellows Program, a unique leader-development program that focuses on preparing high-potential professionals for high-impact roles in public horticulture. We’re thrilled to have recently welcomed the five outstanding individuals that make up our 2023–24 Fellows cohort. From Minnesota, Ghana, Ethiopia, Illinois, and England, each Fellow comes to Longwood for this 13-month experience with their own set of experiences, passions, skillsets, and interests—and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish and bring to the field of public horticulture next.
Joining the Fellows Program is Nathan Anderson, Landscape Arboretum Director at Winona State University in Minnesota. With 25 years of experience in landscape architecture—as well as a master’s degree in landscape architecture and bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Minnesota, and licensure as a Landscape Architect—Anderson concentrates on native plant communities and sustainable land use practices. To Anderson, the Fellows Program has already allowed him to reset and refocus on his values and goals. “I have deep gratitude being able to participate in the Fellows Program,” he shares. “Already, it has given me the luxury of time—time to step back from day-to-day operations and reflect, re-assess my values and priorities, explore the myriad ways we contribute to public horticulture, and focus anew on how I can make the greatest impact to our profession.”
Anderson’s interest in horticulture emerged from his childhood growing up on his family’s Wisconsin dairy farm, where he helped with field crops, tended to the vegetable and flower gardens, and explored the rolling wooded bluffs surrounding the valley. At the University of Minnesota, he found landscape architecture, which combined his love for plants with design, creativity, and problem-solving. “After many years as a practicing landscape architect, I discovered I wanted to focus my energies on something much bigger than myself,” says Anderson, as he pivoted to public horticulture by taking on the role of Landscape Arboretum Director at Winona State University. In this role, he “serves a much larger community, getting people back in touch with all the complexity, beauty, and necessity of plants.”
When reflecting on his Fellows Program experience thus far, Anderson shares, “Longwood is such an exceptional place. It is a gift to access this institution as a learning laboratory for public garden administration. The vast resources of the program and depth of sharing are invaluable as we look to expand our own careers … and the opportunity to learn and model from these public garden leaders will inform everything I achieve in my career from here on out.”
Edem Kojo Doe
“The secret to winning is starting,” Fellow Edem Kojo Doe notes as he reflects on his May 2023 arrival at Philadelphia International Airport, thrilled to start his journey as the first Ghanaian to be selected for the Fellows Program. As the Head of the Parks and Gardens Unit for the Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana in Accra, Doe leads a 70-person team to design, maintain, and sustain the environment. Doe holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and sanitation from the University of Education, Winneba, where he was part of the Kufuor Scholars Program. Doe is also an alumnus of the School of Horticulture at Aburi Botanic Gardens.
Naturally, Doe has a passion for plants and people and looks forward to growing as a global leader in public horticulture, expanding his horizons, honing his leadership skills, and meeting equally passionate professionals in the field. Already in his Fellows Program experience, he has seen similarities between his home organization in Ghana and Longwood Gardens—they both value responsibly stewarding the environment and providing beauty and joy to communities. Doe describes his experience so far at Longwood to be an “aha” moment for him in his career in public horticulture.
To Doe, the Fellows Program is a “gift of resources” that has helped him see that he is part of something bigger than himself. Doe extends “a very special thank you to Longwood Gardens for this rare opportunity. It has been a genuine honor to be part of something bigger in my pursuit of leadership excellence, connecting with thought leaders, and being given the resources to succeed.”
Muluken Nega Kebede
For Muluken Kebede, the goal of becoming a Longwood Gardens Fellow has been seven years in the making. His first introduction to the Longwood Fellows Program was in 2016, when he met with the leaders of the University of Delaware departments of plant and soil science, horticulture, and landscape design to gain valuable experience to take back to Ethiopia, where he serves as Founder and Managing Partner of ZANA Landscape Design and Construction Company, a pioneering professional landscaping company in Addis Ababa. At that 2016 meeting, he also met the director of the Longwood Graduate Program, which grew into the current Fellows Program. Since then, he had been waiting for the best time in his career to apply. “The Fellows Program is a unique professional development program … I feel privileged and honored to be one of the Fellows in this prestigious program,” he shares.
In addition to his role with ZANA Landscape Design and Construction Company, Muluken is also a co-founder and board chair of several environmental and social initiatives, including LEM KETEMA and Menged Le SEW, that help to engage and facilitate community empowerment and positive environmental impact in and around Addis Ababa. Muluken expresses how one of his passions for horticulture and gardens management is the possibility to steward naturalistic, wild, and sustainable spaces. “I believe nature is a great teacher and if we observe and learn there are so many ways to bring nature back to our cities and homes,” he states.
With the Fellows Program, Muluken hopes to develop his leadership awareness and excellence in public horticulture through learning from experts in the field and visiting other public gardens in the area, including Chanticleer, Mt. Cuba Center, Nemours Estate, Stoneleigh, and Bartram’s Garden. He is looking forward to visiting the Morris Arboretum and Gardens; Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library; and many more sites in the area. “The Fellows Program has already created the space for me to meet and discuss with amazing garden leaders, horticulturists, scientists, and landscape designers who are already doing amazing work in combining their skills and designing the gardens of the future,” he says.
A native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Abby Lorenz joins the Fellows Program from Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, as the Manager of Plant Records and Horticulture Programs, where she focused on developing and maintaining the plant records database, educational programs, garden interpretation, and plant collections development. Lorenz received her bachelor's degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Lorenz is excited to use her time at Longwood to cultivate the tools needed to nurture the future of public green spaces so that they provide for all people and make a lasting impact on the health of our climate. She hopes to gain a deeper understanding of where public horticulture is as an industry— “to see, experience, and ask questions about what gardens are currently doing, the challenges they may face, and where they hope to go.”
A common thread she sees between the Lincoln Park Zoo and Longwood is a passion for sharing the joy and possibility of the natural world with all who experience the spaces which they steward. “The first word that comes to mind to describe Longwood in these first few months is hospitality … this is a place of welcoming and generosity,” Lorenz says.
Lorenz expresses how her main interest in horticulture is the possibility to change the world through the powerful feeling one may get when they are in a space filled with a diversity of plants of all different colors, textures, and smells. Lorenz states, “The Fellows Program enhances my interest by exposing me to all the different ways that organizations are tapping into this powerful feeling and the abundance of joy and connection that it can bring.”
Fellow Colin Skelly joins the 2023-24 Fellows cohort from Cornwall, England, where he is currently a horticulturist and consultant working at Eagle’s Nest, the garden of the artist Patrick Heron, and with Pollinator Pathmaker, a garden artwork project by the artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. He attained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Master of Horticulture award in 2022 and, before discovering his passion for horticulture, he gained a BA, MA, and PhD in history.
Skelly brings with him industry experience across historic and modern gardens, for-profit and non-profit organizations, nursery production and educational institutions, and more—all in a UK and European industry context. With the Fellows Program, Skelly can already see how much he has grown professionally as he now joins horticultural networks in North America. In the world of global horticulture, he sees a common thread between Europe and North America—the need to research and gather data to inform horticultural practices into the future.
Along with Skelly’s observations of the scientific side of the field, he also finds a passion in the way horticulture “lies at the nexus of nature and culture, head and heart, and hand and brain.” To Skelly, “horticulture is essential for supporting the adaptation of our landscapes and our communities into the future,” and he hopes to drive impact and advocate for horticulture by connecting it to other sectors like ecology, landscape architecture, urban planning, engineering, and even public communications and art.
Skelly’s future in horticulture is “still being written,” but his interests surround the intersection between horticulture and ecology—how gardens can adapt in warmer and/or unstable climates, optimize biodiversity, or build diverse and inclusive cultures. As a Fellow, Skelly has learned that “there is no more important sector than horticulture in helping us respond to the global challenges that we face and to drive positive future change.”
Our Fellows have more work to do, leaders in the field to meet and learn from, and professional interests to follow. We can’t wait to see how they will grow as leaders in public horticulture and all they will do for horticultural institutions around the world—and we’ll proudly share updates about their Fellows experience as it unfolds.
Editor’s note: Do you know a rising professional who might be a good fit for the Fellows Program? Nominations are accepted year-round at longwoodgardens.org/longwood-fellows-nomination.