Members Area

2021 Honorary Members

In keeping with its purpose, The Garden Club of America annually recognizes extraordinary efforts in such fields as gardening, botany, conservation, education, and design through the extension of honorary memberships. With appreciation for their achievements, the GCA welcomes the following new honorary members for 2021:


WILLIAM EDWARD FRIEDMAN, PhD

Proposed by Fox Hill Garden Club
Seconded by Chestnut Hill Garden Club

Dr. Friedman is the director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and the Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is a passionate advocate for the importance of plant science. 

His research interests include the origin and early evolution of flowering plant reproduction and the intellectual history of early evolutionism and plant morphology. More recently, he has focused on our understanding of Charles Darwin and evolution through the lens of botany and horticulture.

Since joining the Arnold Arboretum in 2011, Dr. Friedman has expanded the reach of the organization through public school initiatives, social media engagement, academic collaboration, and engagement with civic groups. 

Together with Michael Dosman, a GCA scholarship recipient, he has accelerated Harvard’s efforts to explore, inventory, and collect vanishing biodiversity worldwide—establishing a Living Plants Collection.

He is the recipient of the Pellon Award from the Botanical Society of America and is a member of numerous prestigious societies.


MARLA SPIVAK, PhD

Proposed by Saint Paul Garden Club
Seconded by The Lake Minnetonka Garden Club

Dr. Spivak is renowned nationally and internationally for her work with pollinators—most specifically, the honey bee. She oversees critical research in the area of honey bee biology, bee health, conservation, and pollinator habitat as the director of the Honey Bee Research Lab at the University of Minnesota. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship as well as numerous awards and research grants.

Through research and testing, she has developed a strain of honey bee for the beekeeping industry that is more resistant to diseases. She also started an organization called “The Bee Squad” which helps beekeepers and the community in the Twin Cities promote the conservation, health, and diversity of bee pollinators through research, education, and hands-on mentorship. 

She has published countless research papers and spoken at numerous conferences. Her TED talk on “Why Bees Are Disappearing” has nearly 3 million views. She is the author and creator of several beekeeping manuals and videos which are viewed around the world.


SUSAN COHEN

Proposed by Garden Club of East Hampton
Seconded by Green Fingers Garden Club

Ms. Cohen is a landscape architect and educator, and creator of the New York Botanical Garden’s famed Landscape Design Portfolio Lecture series, now in its twenty-second year. Each year, this acclaimed program brings three of the world’s most prominent landscape architects to New York City to talk about their work and ideas. She is the coordinator of the NYBG Landscape Design Certificate Program, where she has taught for over 35 years. 

In 2010, she was elected to the Council of Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for her outstanding contribution to the profession in Leadership/Management over a sustained period of time.

She is also the author of The Inspired Landscape: Twenty-One Leading Landscape Architects Explore the Creative Process (2015), published by Timber Press. 

Ms. Cohen has designed or co-designed three major exhibits for the NYBG, and has her own residential landscape architecture firm based in Riverside, Connecticut. She has served on the Greenwich Architectural Review Committee, the NYBG’s Board of Advisors, and the Board of Trustees of Smith College, where she helped create the Landscape Studies Program.