512-913-8615   •   2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78746

Staff

Jeff Pavlat, Interim Executive Director & Board Member | Jeff is the Vice President of Education and Newsletter Editor for the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society, and a past society president. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America and manages their publications. He is also the Austin Area Garden Council Vice President of Horticulture. Jeff received a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin with an emphasis on graphic design, photography, and printmaking. He works part time as a horticulturist at Oracle Gorge, a small cactus and succulent nursery. He is an expert on succulent flora and maintains a large collection of rare plants. His hillside garden in Austin features extensive plantings of cacti and succulents and has become a favorite stop on several local garden tours.

Roberta Sherfy, Education Coordinator | Roberta (Robbie) Sherfy was born in Denton and raised in Denison, Texas. She moved to Austin in 1980 to marry a man she’d known for only eight months. At the time she was teaching kindergarten. After settling in Austin, she taught at a private Episcopal School for five years before going back to teaching at public school. She taught in Pflugerville, Texas for 27 years before retiring.

Robbie has spent time volunteering at All Saints Episcopal Church in their Music program (Front Porch) and ran the Street Ministry programs (Loaves and Fishes) for 7 years before moving into the garden world. In the 90s, she volunteered with the Texas Book Festival, taking care of authors. Later she got a trip to the White House and brunch with Laura Bush while helping with the National Book Festival – the weekend before 9/11, getting home before airlines shut down.

Gardening has always been Robbie’s hobby and passion. She became a Master Gardener in 2016 and has been volunteering at Zilker Botanical Garden as a docent with AAGC. For the past two years, she has been a volunteer in public schools with the Sprout Project, which teaches gardening in a classroom environment. She is also a volunteer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Robbie feels like she’s gone full circle – when she first moved to Austin in 1980, she worked for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department in their summer program and now finds herself back working with PARD at Zilker Botanical Garden.

Board of Directors

Marion Alsup | A former registered nurse whose first degree is in Horticulture, Marion is President of the Austin Area Garden Center and President of the Docents of Zilker Botanical Garden.  She has been a docent  since 1995, leading many tours every year for visitors of all ages.  She is inspired by their appreciation for this treasure and delighted to share in this opportunity to improve the garden and educational programs.

Colette Pierce Burnette | Dr. Burnette, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, joined Huston-Tillotson University as president on July 1, 2015. She served as interim President at Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington, the Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, Executive Assistant to the President, Vice President for Information Technology and Services and Chief Information Officer at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, Dean of Information Technology at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington, and Manager of Consulting and Project Management Services at the Washington State Department of Transportation in Olympia, Washington. Colette has combined her IQ, EQ, entrepreneurial spirit and technical knowledge to forge successful careers in engineering, information technology and education. Before transitioning into higher education, Colette worked as a Computer Analyst at The Washington Post, was an Operations Support Engineer at Proctor and Gamble, held the position of Director of Information Systems at Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., and ran her own computer consulting firm, CompuMent.

A strong proponent of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and civic and community engagement, Colette currently serves as co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities. She is also on the Minority Engineering Advisory board for The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, Austin Area Research Organization, Texnikoi, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Links, Inc. to name only a few. She has served on numerous boards and committees including the Xenia Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Wright Patterson Air Force Base 2020 Taskforce Committee, National Association for Schools of Music Accreditation Committee, African American Male Leadership Institute Steering Committee, and Central State University’s Campus Climate Committee. She currently serves on the following boards in Austin: Leadership Austin, Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Greater Austin Urban League, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Advisory Council, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, and Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy. Her many honors include the Ohio State University Outstanding Engineering Alumnus Award, Ten Most Influential Women in Austin, Administrator of the Year, Distinguished Woman of the Year, US Army Distinguished Civilian Volunteer Service Medal Award, Thurgood Marshall Foundation Chief Information Officer of the Year Award, Thurgood Marshall Chief Fiscal Officer of the Year Award, Dayton Business Journal Chief Fiscal Officer Awardee, and the National Diversity Council Glass Ceiling Award.

Colette received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from The Ohio State University and a Master of Science in Administration from Georgia College.  She is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program and received her Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from University of Pennsylvania.

Colette is married to Daarel and they have two adult children (Daarel II of Washington, DC and Daana of New York, NY).

Frank Cooksey (Emeritus) | Frank was educated in the Austin public schools (Pease, UJH, Austin High) and is a graduate of the University of Texas in Psychology, Government, and Law (BA and JD), where he was Student Body President. He pursued the practice of Law with the Civil Rights Division and US Attorney’s Office, U.S. Department of Justice; Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Texas; Private practice in Houston and Austin (with Hilgers & Watkins, P.C. for 16 years) . Additionally, Mr. Cooksey served as Mayor of Austin from 1985-1988. Married to Lynn Cooksey for 58 years, with two children and two grandchildren.

In addition to his work here in Texas, Mayor Cooksey also worked overseas for the Central and East European Law Initiative in 1999 and 2000) and monitoring municipal elections in Bosnia in 1997. He has served as President of the Board of Texas Institute for Families, Save Barton Creek Association, United Nations Association of Austin, Austin Metropolitan Ministries, Capitol Area Homeless Alliance, and, in Houston, the Southgate Civic Club and Houston Metropolitan Ministries.

Judith Craft | Judith Craft is a Travis County Master Gardener, and an active member of the Austin Herb Society who chooses to use her volunteer time maintaining the Herb Garden in Zilker Botanical Garden. She was very much involved with the design, layout and installation of the Native Texas Herb Garden in 2005. She has been the force behind moving and expanding the collection to the top of the Rose Garden executed in the spring of 2017.

When not wearing a gardening hat, Judith will often be in a docent’s apron leading tours through Zilker Botanical Garden. She has been a member of the Horticulture Committees within the Austin Area Garden Council for a number of years, has held a board position for the Herb Society, and serves on a couple of committees for Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy.

Jeannie Ferrier, Board Secretary | Resident of this beautiful city for 58 years. Married, two children and two sweet grandsons. Retired school teacher of 34 years, go Cougars. Both parents live in Sun City Georgetown and going strong. As a child I remember working in the yard with my parents and to this day I am still working in my yard. I love the outdoors, smell of good dirt, flowers for the bees and growing food for our table. I am the current president of the Austin Pond Society and spend many an hour educating our members about pond health, koi, goldfish and water plants.

Margaret Galton | Margaret Galton grew up in Austin and graduated from The University of Texas. Through her work with the Red River Cultural District, the Waller Creek Conservancy, and now Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy she strives to preserve the Austin of her childhood as well as contribute to the evolution of the city in a way that is true to the community. Margaret currently works as a Talent Buyer on concerts, festivals, and events at C3 Presents.

Dr. Gloria Cisneros Lenoir | Dr. Lenoir is a writer and strives to help in the community in regards to organizations that are involved in earth care sustainability and quality of life issues. She has worked in the private and public sectors and has experience in education, finance and government.

Dave Martin, Board Chair | Dave Martin retired from full-time corporate work in 2016. He is currently teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas. He also serves on the Northern Funds Board (Northern Trust) in addition to various volunteer and consulting activities.

Dave has thirty years of financial management experience at banks, broker/dealers and large asset management firms, including a background in international markets. As chief financial officer of Dimensional Fund Advisors LP from March 2007 to April 2016, he was responsible for providing accurate and timely information about Dimensional’s finances and for business planning and analysis. He also oversaw facilities/real estate, business continuity, and compliance functions. Mr. Martin served as a director of eight internal boards, all non-US entities.

Prior to joining Dimensional, Mr. Martin was executive vice president and chief financial officer for Janus Capital Group Inc., where he oversaw finance and accounting, human resources, IT, real estate, and procurement. Previously, he spent six years at Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., serving in senior management positions across a variety of financial disciplines including traditional treasury functions, planning and analysis, forecasting, and reporting. Early in his career, Mr. Martin was executive vice president and chief financial officer for First Interstate Bank of Texas.

Mr. Martin earned his MBA in finance from Carnegie Mellon University in 1981 and holds a BS in mathematical sciences (1979) from Stanford University where he was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Patrick O’Daniel, Treasurer | Patrick is a native Austinite and tax partner at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. He has served as Board President for the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum and Catholic Charities of Central Texas as well as general counsel for Zachary Scott Theatre. He is a CPA and also an adjunct professor who teaches partnership tax at the University of Texas School of Law.

Jennifer Orr | Jennifer Orr is a landscape architect, mother of two, and avid gardener.  She has a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, is a founding Principal of her firm Studio Balcones, and throughout her work, strives to connect humans to nature – creating landscapes that are integrated, functional, sustainable and beautiful.  Jennifer grew up in Austin and has a great love of the Texas landscape and is thrilled to be part of the ZBGC.

Ed Parken | Ed Parken graduated with his Masters degree in  Mechanical Engineering from Ohio State in 1962. Shortly after graduation he started his 22-year career with IBM and along with his wife, Judy, and two small children moved to Austin, Texas in 1968.  Ed retired in 2001 and moved back to Austin.  In  2005 Ed worked with a team to install a Rainwater Harvesting System for  the Zilker Botanical Garden. Ed was the Project Manager for  number of improvements to ZBG:the lower gate for the Japanese Garden, coating 4 of the Japanese Garden Ponds, and a  inside-the-fence survey map of the ZBG.  Ed serves on the Horticulture Committee, is on the ZBGC board and is a Master Gardener.

Hal Sanders, Vice Chair | Hal is a retired attorney (Haynes & Boone, LLP) who continues to serve as a mediator for assisting in the resolution of disputes in federal and state court.  Hal serves on the State Bar of Texas lawyer disciplinary committee and is a volunteer counsel for the American Association of Woodturners a 15000 member organization of artists and craftsmen worldwide.  Hal serves as Vice Chair of the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy and as Chair of the Legal committee for the board. Hal has previously served as a Director of the University of Texas Law School Alumni Association. 

Evan Taniguchi (Emeritus) | Owner and Principal of Taniguchi Architects since 1978, Evan specializes in architecture, urban planning and sustainable design.  He is involved in many civic/community services;  currently Chair of the City of Austin Design Commission, Board member and Past-President of the Austin History Center Association, Community Board Member of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, and a founding member of the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy.  His grandfather created the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden which is located in the Zilker Botanical Gardens. 

Amy Voorhes |  Amy Voorhes is a passionate advocate for parks and green spaces.  A former Capitol Hill press secretary, Amy consulted for many years in on national and regional public affairs campaigns. She received her B.A. magna cum laude from Brown University and did her graduate work in landscape design at the Arnold Arboretum. Amy has gardened in virtually every climate zone in the country and has been known to steal her neighbors’ grass clippings to feed her mulch pile

Gwen Webb |  Gwen is a native of Mount Vernon, New York. She came to Austin, Texas after graduation from Yale University with a B. A. with a major in Political Science. She received her J. D. from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. Gwen Webb has been an administrative lawyer her entire professional career, including work as a staff attorney, hearings examiner and Assistant Chief Hearings Examiner at the predecessor agencies of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Ms. Webb was a Supervising Attorney for the City of Austin, representing the water utility, the public works department, and serving as a liaison to the Texas Legislature and other local governments. Since leaving the City in 1990 to start her own law firm with her husband and law partner, Stephen P. Webb, Ms. Webb has continued to serve the public sector, including serving on the City of Austin Planning Commission, and as Chair of the City of Austin Water and Wastewater Commission, a citizens’ advisory commission providing oversight on matters related to Austin Water. Ms. Webb has also represented the City of Dallas since 1992 on water related matters before the TCEQ. Ms. Webb is a certified mediator, with significant experience mediating disputes between public organizations and individuals, especially regarding educational matters.