Longwood Gardens Selects Five Fellows for Prestigious 2024-2025 Leadership Program

KENNETT SQUARE, PA–Longwood Gardens announced the selection of five accomplished horticulture professionals for its prestigious Longwood Gardens Fellows Program, maintaining a legacy of cultivating global leaders in horticulture since 1967. Following a rigorous selection process, the 2024-25 Fellows are Laurel Dunning (San Simeon, Calif.), Vânia Pereira (Gainesville, Fla.), Anastasia Sallen (Sarasota, Fla.), E. Yvette Weaver (New York, NY), and Clare Shearman (Wellington, New Zealand). They begin the program at Longwood in June. For information on the Fellows Program, visit longwoodgardens.org/longwood-fellows.

“Following a comprehensive review, we are delighted to welcome a dynamic cohort of five exceptional professionals,” said Fellows Program Director Sharon Thompsonowak. “Each Fellow brings a distinctive perspective and valuable experiences that will enrich their participation in the program as they expand their expertise and leadership skills in preparation to serve public horticulture in high-impact positions in the future.”

Throughout the fully funded, 13-month, cohort-based residency at Longwood, Fellows explore contemporary horticulture challenges related to leadership, organizational dynamics, board relations and governance, communications, and business management. A two-month field placement provides deeper insights into these issues, empowering Fellows to lead organizations into a vibrant and sustainable future. Alumni of the Fellows Program join the prestigious Society of Fellows, a global network of public garden professionals.

The objective of the Fellows Program is to nurture leaders across the public horticulture sector. Candidates from diverse backgrounds and locations are invited to apply. The ideal candidate has at least five years of relevant experience and wants to serve—or currently serves—in a leadership position. Individuals transitioning into horticulture from other sectors are also encouraged to apply. Nominations for the cohort program are open year-round and can be submitted via the online nomination form here: https://longwoodgardens.org/education/longwood-fellows-program/fellows-nominate

Interested applicants may apply between June 1 – July 31, 2024. Those interested in learning more about the Fellows Program can register for an informative webinar on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at 1 pm EST.  

For more information about the program and the application process, visit longwoodgardens.org/fellows.

The Fellows

Laurel Dunning enters the 2024-25 Fellows cohort from Hearst Castle, California’s most visited state park, where she held the position of Supervising Groundskeeper II. Dunning has experimented with plants and design concepts throughout the course of her career, spending 16 years at the Madonna Inn, an eclectic resort known for its themed rooms and vibrant aesthetic. With a degree in landscape architecture from Cal Poly State University, Dunning honed her skills through an internship at Longwood Gardens before returning to California.

Vânia Pereira joins the Fellows Program from the University of Florida (UF) as a forthcoming Ph.D. graduate in Environmental Horticulture, specializing in the development of production protocols for the native palm, saw palmetto. Pereira completed her bachelor's degree in Agronomy Engineering in Brazil and a master's in Agriscience at Illinois State University (ISU). Her passion for plant discovery, propagation, and display was developed during her youth in rural Brazil. Pereira’s previous roles include horticulturist at the Horticulture Center of ISU and docent at the Harn Museum of Art at UF.

Anastasia Sallen joins the Fellows Program from Sarasota, Florida, where she served as Associate Vice President for Education at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, overseeing education programming across two campuses. With a background in horticulture and education, she passionately pursues the intersections between plants and humanity. Anastasia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from New College of Florida and a Master of Arts in Education and Globalization from the University of Oulu in Finland.

E. Yvette Weaver's horticultural journey is defined by her dedication to enriching New York City's public gardens. As the Horticulture Supervisor at The Friends of The High Line, she oversees the 10th Ave Square and Northern Spur sections. Weaver’s extensive experience includes nearly a decade at The Met Cloisters Gardens, where she assisted in curating medieval-inspired gardens. Her experience extends to the Heather Garden of Fort Tryon Park, and she served as a John Nally Intern at Wave Hill in 2011. Prior roles as a floral designer and Program Coordinator for The Student Conservation Association shaped her passion for horticulture. Weaver holds a certificate in Sustainable Landscape Management from the New York Botanical Garden and she studied Environmental Studies at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Clare Shearman joins the 2024-25 Fellows cohort from Wellington, New Zealand, bringing with her a wealth of international garden experiences. Serving as the Plant Collection Team Manager at Wellington Botanic Garden since 2016, Shearman also represents Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand through her involvement in the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. She previously developed gardens at both private and public estates, including Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Shearman previously owned and operated a garden design business for 15 years in Turnbridge Wells, Kent, England, and has shared her expertise through teaching adult education courses in gardening. She is a graduate of Hadlow College in England.

About Longwood Gardens 
Longwood Gardens is one of the great gardens of the world, encompassing 1,100 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and grand Conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by founder Pierre S. du Pont to bring joy and inspiration to all through the beauty of nature, conservation and learning. As part of its commitment to conservation, in 2024 Longwood acquired the 505-acre Longwood at Granogue, a cultural landscape in nearby Wilmington, Delaware. Longwood’s foremost influence on American horticulture has been through its education programs, in keeping with Mr. du Pont’s desire to establish “a school where students and others may receive instruction in the arts of horticulture and floriculture.” Since 1958, thousands of students from all over the world have participated in one or more of Longwood’s intensive programs, ranging from School & Youth Programs which educates 45,000 students both online and in person each year, to the two-year Professional Gardener Program to the Fellows Program. Graduates have gone on to leadership roles in many of the country’s top horticultural institutions. For more information, visit longwoodgardens.org.