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2024 Honorary Members

The Garden Club of America annually extends honorary membership to those who have shown extraordinary achievement in gardening, botany, conservation, education, history, and design and whose knowledge and interests align with ours. With appreciation for their achievements and deep association with the GCA, we welcome the following new honorary members for 2024.

Dwayne Estes, PhD

Proposed by The Garden Club of Nashville, Zone IX
Seconded by Little Rock Garden Club, Zone IX

Dr. Dwayne Estes is the executive director and co-founder of the Southeastern Grasslands Institute based at Austin Peay State University where he is also a full-time biology professor. Known as the “Prairie Preacher,” he is raising awareness about the largely lost and forgotten historical grasslands that once stretched across twenty-three states from New York to Texas. In addition to grassland conservation and restoration, his other research interests include plant diversity, plant conservation, natural history, and historical ecology.

No stranger to the GCA, he has received a club commendation as well as the Zone IX Conservation Commendation in 2022. In 2018 and 2023 he spoke at the GCA National Affairs & Legislation Conference to GCA club members from across the country. He has also spoken to various clubs and was the keynote speaker at the 2022 Zone IX Meeting. 

Dwayne has developed a close association with the GCA, and his work embodies its purpose. We look forward to an even deeper relationship with him going forward. 

Ari Novy, PhD

Proposed by Diggers Garden Club, Zone XII
Seconded by Orinda Garden Club, Zone XII

Dr. Ari Novy received the GCA’s C.T. Kissel Environmental Studies Scholarship in 2007. He is the president and CEO of San Diego Botanic Garden, which is known for its extensive collections of Mediterranean climate plants and award-winning children’s gardens. He served previously as the Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. 

Ari is an internationally recognized leader in botanic garden management, biodiversity conservation, plant science, and science communication and education. 

He has been a popular and compelling speaker at the club, zone, and national levels. He spoke at the GCA’s Annual Meeting in Baltimore in 2017, at the National Affairs & Legislation Conference in 2019, and at the Zone XII meeting in 2022. He has also spoken at numerous clubs throughout Zone XII.

Ari’s ongoing association with the GCA and dedication to our interests and purpose make him a welcome addition as a GCA honorary member.

Cassandra Quave, PhD 

Proposed by Peachtree Garden Club, Zone VIII
Seconded by Cherokee Garden Club, Zone VIII


Dr. Cassandra Quave received The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany from the GCA in 2007. She also received a Club Horticulture Commendation in 2023. Cassandra is the newly named Thomas J. Lawley Professor in Dermatology at Emory University. An acknowledged leader in her field and a renowned international ethnobotanist, she is known for her innovative work related to vaccines and anti-bacterial treatments derived from plants. 

In 2020 Cassandra was the keynote speaker at the first virtual Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference. Following in her footsteps, four of her students have also become GCA scholars. She is a frequent speaker and collaborator with Atlanta area GCA garden clubs. A recipient of grant funding for her doctorate from the Garden Club of Allegheny County, she recently presented at the joint meeting of the Village Garden Club of Sewickley and the Garden Club of Allegheny County in November. 

Her dedication to outstanding scholarship and research plus her close association with the GCA make her an ideal honorary member.

Brian Vogt

Proposed by Garden Club of Denver, Zone XII
Seconded by Broadmoor Garden Club, Zone XII

Brian Vogt is familiar to many in the GCA. He is the 2019 recipient of the Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of the quality of life. 

As the Chief Executive Officer of Denver Botanic Gardens, one of North America’s most visited and innovative public gardens, he has overseen more than fifty construction projects and more than $65 million worth of investments. GCA members saw the fruits of this work when the Denver Botanic Gardens hosted the 2019 Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference. A highly respected civic leader in Colorado, Brian also serves on the Board of the American Public Gardens Association and Plant Select.

In 2018 Brian was a speaker at the Conservation Study Trip to Boulder, and he has been a key contributor to the GCA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Cultivating Common Ground and Building Diversity, hosting two roundtables open to all members.

The GCA and its members will benefit from an even stronger bond with Brian as a GCA honorary member.