Meet the Fellows
After a rigorous selection process, we are pleased to announce the talented professionals selected for the 2019–2020 cohort of our prestigious Fellows Program. These passionate individuals are joining our 13-month residential program that develops global leaders in the field of public horticulture.
Shawna Jones arrives at Longwood having been the Adult Education and Volunteer Coordinator for the Santa Fe Botanical Garden in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for more than three years. Jones reached her position at the botanical garden by working and collaborating to build a school garden for her students as a social worker with Communities in Schools. Jones received her bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University in social work and Spanish, and her master’s degree in public administration with a focus on nonprofit development. Her passion for community development began with her time in the Peace Corps, when she was a Youth and Family Development volunteer in El Salvador.
Abra Lee is from the University of Georgia, where she serves as an Extension Agent for Fulton County. Lee has worked in the green industry for 18 years, in both the public and private sectors, having held landscape manager positions for two international airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where she received the Urban Ag Council's Grand Award. Lee is a graduate of the Auburn University College of Agriculture, and owns Conquer The Soil, LLC, a brand that focuses on gardens, fashion, and culture.
Becky Paxton has previously served in roles from development to education at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent position was leading the garden’s government and foundation giving initiatives, helping to secure Cheekwood’s first federal grant in more than three decades and developing programming and philanthropic support for Cheekwood’s acclaimed Japanese garden, Shōmu-en. With a background in art history and historic preservation, Paxton has worked to advance the care of significant landscapes and structures through resource development for historic homeowners and past board service on North Carolina's Orange County Historic Commission. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council.
Mae Lin Plummer
Mae Lin Plummer serves as the Garden Director at The Duke Mansion in Charlotte, North Carolina. Plummer’s journey into public gardens began after leaving an 18-year career in the financial industry. Her fascination with plants matured into a healthy obsession after volunteering at the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens. She soon realized the influential role of public gardens in the betterment of the human experience, in education, and in plant conservation. Over the past five years, Plummer has been immersed in the plant world, receiving certificates in horticulture and native plant studies, and engaging with the community as a horticulture instructor, children’s program instructor, garden speaker, and garden designer.
Barbara Wheeler serves as Collections Supervisor at the Dunedin Botanic Garden in New Zealand, where she has overseen and managed the operational management of the garden’s plant collections for 16 years. Wheeler has worked in public horticulture for 28 years, undertaking her initial apprenticeship training at Dunedin Botanic Garden before further training at Longwood Gardens in the International Gardener Program and later completing a Practical Diploma in Horticulture at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden, Wisley. She has been awarded several scholarships that have taken her to Israel and to Tresco Abbey Gardens in the Isles of Scilly. Additionally, she worked in Australia as a Gardener at the Australian Governor-General's residence in Sydney, and at Dunedin Botanic Garden in a Collection Curator role, managing and maintaining the Rock, Water, and Alpine Collections.
Nanette Wraith comes to the Fellows Program from her role as Head of Crops and Aromatic Collection at Keyneston Mill in Dorset, UK. Keyneston Mill is the home of Parterre Fragrances, a privately owned and newly created estate that grows perfume ingredients. During her three years at Keyneston Mill, Wraith established the horticulture team, designed and orchestrated the creation of the botanic gardens, and managed crop production. Prior to that, she worked for The Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, as part of the Edibles Team. Additionally, she worked for the National Trust at Nymans in Sussex, and at the historic London garden of the Inner Temple, learning about successional planting and creative border design.