A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in New York State, the Garden Conservancy was founded in 1989 by renowned plantsman Frank Cabot. Today, our board of directors is composed of twenty-nine men and women from across the country, led by Courtnay S. Daniels, Board Chair, and Robert M. Balentine, Vice Chair.



Courtnay S. Daniels, Board Chair
Greenwood, Virginia

Courtnay Daniels joined the Garden Conservancy board of directors in 2006, became Vice-Chairman in 2011, and was elected Chair in September 2018. She has opened her garden to the public through the Garden Conservancy Open Days and for our Society of Fellows garden-study tours. Courtnay is a long-time member of the Garden Club of America and a former partner in a small greenhouse business. She has served on the boards of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello and of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, and has supported a variety of projects at the University of Virginia. 

Over the last twenty years, Courtnay has created a series of garden rooms, diverse shrub borders, greenhouses, and arboretum on more than twenty-nine acres at her home, Whilton Farm, an expansive pastoral landscape in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal described her garden as having “one of the largest collections of rare plants in the country.”

Robert M. Balentine, Vice Chair
Atlanta, Georgia 

Robert Balentine, chairman and CEO of Balentine, the Atlanta-based wealth management firm, was elected to the Garden Conservancy board of directors in June 2015 and became Vice Chair in September 2018. An inveterate, dirt-under-the-fingernails gardener with a rosarian as his father and Garden Club of America horticulture judge as his mother, Robert’s love of the natural world developed at an early age, hiking and camping as an Eagle Scout.

In 2002, Robert founded the Southern Highlands Reserve, a nationally recognized native plant arboretum and research center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. He has also held many other leadership positions in his community, including founding president of the Southeastern Horticultural Society and chairman of the board of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He is past president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and a graduate of Washington & Lee University, where he served as a trustee for nearly a decade. Among other civic and business honors, he received the 2013 Business Person of the Year Lifetime Achievement award from the Metro Atlanta Chamber and was named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle's list of Most Admired CEOs in 2018. His wife, Betty, shares his passion for gardening and is past president of her Garden Club of America club in Atlanta and chairman of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. 

James Brayton Hall, President and Chief Executive Officer
Beacon, New York

James Hall joined the Garden Conservancy as president and CEO in June 2017. For the previous four years, he was deputy director of the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he worked on the planning and design of the Norman Foster-designed museum expansion and sculpture gardens. From 2010 to 2013, he was executive director of the Providence Preservation Society in Rhode Island, overseeing all programming, fundraising, and relations with the board, donors, and community. From 2006 to 2010, James served as assistant director of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, after holding various other management and curatorial positions at the school since 1985. 

James has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia and a master’s in landscape architecture from Rhode Island School of Design. In addition, he was awarded a Royal Oak Scholarship to attend the Attingham Trust Summer School in Architectural and Landscape History in London, and, separately, participated in the Victorian Society’s summer program in architectural history, also in London. In 2016, he was accepted to and completed Attingham’s Royal Collections Course. He has spoken widely on architectural and landscape design and has been a member of the graduate program faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Susan Payson Burke, Secretary
New York, New York

Susan Burke gardens in multiple locations, beginning 35 years ago with a cottage garden around an 1805 farmhouse in Bedford, New York. She has been working on her “garden by the sea” on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, for twenty years, and began work on a quasi-Japanese garden at her home in Florida three years ago. Her Nantucket garden was archived for the Smithsonian in 2012. She serves on the board of the New York Botanical Garden and on the horticulture committee at Wave Hill, Bronx, New York, and the board of the Irish Georgian Society. She is a member of the Bedford Garden Club, which was a founding member of the Garden Club of America. In addition, Susan has served on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She is former public relations and publicity director for Bergdorf Goodman, vice president of Calisch Associates, and advertising director at Frances Denny; and worked in marketing and public relations for Moet and Chandon.

Susan has been involved with the Garden Conservancy since our very early days, serving on our founding advisory committee in 1989. She joined our board of directors in 2002; in 2019, she was elected Secretary. Susan organized the first and many subsequent Garden Conservancy Open Days on Nantucket, and has hosted many Open Days at her garden in Bedford, NY.

Howard G. Seitz, Treasurer
New York, New York

Gerry Seitz is of counsel to the international law firm Duane Morris LLP at its New York City office, where he is active in the practice of business and commercial law and trusts and estates. He was formerly of counsel in a similar position with Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke, which merged with Duane Morris in 2020. For more than twenty years, Gerry was a partner at O’Connor, Murphy, Ryan & Seitz. He has been involved with several start-up companies over the past decade, is a board member of various privately held companies and charities, and is a former member of the City Council of Rye, New York.

Thirty years ago, Gerry and his wife, Sue, began a garden at an 1890 carriage house set on an outcropping of rock overlooking the Mill Pond and its old red mill in Rye, New York. The couple has been involved with the Garden Conservancy since our founding. Gerry has served as our organization’s legal counsel from the beginning and was elected to the Conservancy’s board of directors in 1996 and named Secretary/Treasurer at the same time.

To view short bios, please click on each name below.

Chair Emeritus

Benjamin F. Lenhardt, Jr.
Charleston, South Carolina


To view a short bio of each board member, please click on the name below.

Mary-Randolph Ballinger
St. Louis, Missouri

Shelley Belling
Newport Beach, California

Allison K. Bourke
Greenwich, Connecticut

Barbara Whitney Carr
Hobe Sound, Florida

J. Barclay Collins II
Sharon, Connecticut

Page Dickey
Falls Village, Connecticut

Elizabeth Everdell
San Francisco, California

Lionel Goldfrank III
Sharon, Connecticut

Susan Zises Green
New York, New York

Suzanne Kayne
Santa Monica, California

Frederick A. Landman
Greenwich, Connecticut

Elizabeth Locke
Millwood, Virginia

Joseph Marek
Santa Monica, California

Carolyn Mehran
San Francisco, California

Jean-Paul Montupet
St. Louis, Missouri

Sharon J. Pryse
Knoxville, Tennessee

Paul B. Redman
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Suzanne Rheinstein
Los Angeles, California

Katie Ridder
New York, New York

Ann Copeland Rose
Wilmington, Delaware

Jorge A. Sánchez
Palm Beach, Florida

Christopher Spitzmiller
New York, New York

Patricia A. Steffan
New York, New York

Dana Scott Westring
Marshall, Virginia

Directors Emeriti

Linda Allard
Washington, Connecticut

Douglas H. Banker
Garrison, New York

Josephine B. Bush
Hamden, Connecticut

F. Colin Cabot
Loudon, New Hampshire
Board resolution in honor of Colin Cabot, December 10, 2020

Edward N. Dane
Center Harbor, New Hampshire

Dorothy H. Gardner
Chicago, Illinois
Board resolution in honor of Dorothy Gardner, September 12, 2018

Thomas B. Hunter III
Lake Forest, Illinois

Posy Krehbiel
Lake Forest, Illinois

Dr. Richard W. Lighty
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Board resolution in honor of Dick Lighty, March 27, 2014

Susan Lowry
New York, New York
Board resolution in honor of Susan Lowry, December 10, 2020

Joseph F. McCann
New York, New York

Evelyn M. McGee
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
Board resolution in honor of Patti McGee, June 11, 2015

Chapin Nolen 
Santa Barbara, California
Board resolution in honor of Chapin Nolen, September 17, 2015

Barbara Paul Robinson
New York, New York

Deborah Royce
Riverside, Connecticut
Board resolution in honor of Deborah Royce, September 12, 2018

Susan Stone
Glencoe, Illinois
Board resolution in honor of Susan Stone, September 17, 2015

Nancy Thomas
Houston, Texas

Rodman Ward, Jr.
Wilmington, Delaware
Board resolution in honor of Rod Ward, September 12, 2018

Louise Wrinkle
Birmingham, Alabama