Board of Directors and Staff

Here at Unity Gardens, we are so proud of (and grateful for) our history of having truly amazing, dedicated board members volunteering their time and talents to help us accomplish our mission of improving and strengthening communities across Anne Arundel County through the support of sustainable greening projects.  Our board members bring a variety of personal passions and professional backgrounds to the table, and we invite you to take a few moments to learn more about them below. If you are interested in offering your services as a board member or volunteer, please contact us!

2019 Board of Directors

Donna Usewick is a native Annapolitan, having grown up in the community of Annapolis Roads.  Her mother was on the Garden Club (maybe that’s where she obtained her love of gardening).  After attending Severn School, Lynchburg College and Adelphi University, Donna went on to become a Special Educator in the state of New York.  While there, she attending New York University, where she received a Professional Diploma and permanent certification in Education Administration and Supervision.  She married and came back to Annapolis where she still resides. She has two children, Danny 22 and Jaimie 26 who are both independent and in careers that they are passionate about.  After being a Special Educator for 20 years, she became an interventionist both academic and behavioral. This lead her to become an Assistant Principal for 4 years and she just retired after her 5th year as a Principal at Oakwood Elementary in Glen Burnie.  Her school received two grants from Unity Gardens for native plants and lead to what is now a beautiful outdoor classroom of which she is most proud and aligns with her school’s award as a National School of Character.

Bonnie Cook is a recent transplant to Annapolis from the Philadelphia area. She says: I feel I have come home to the time and opportunity to do what I have always loved which is to both garden and make the world I live in a better place, if only One Garden at a Time.  While I have always been a passionate native gardener, Unity Gardens is a good fit for me as recognizing how important community involvement is, I have always given time and energies to local non-profit boards in addition to running my own home based Interior Design business for 35 years. Those board positions have included A Better Chance which houses and educates inner city youth locally in order to prepare them for College plus our local 110 yr old NL Shops which raises considerable funds through consignment sales to donate to various health and family focused non-profits.  In addition to helping manage one of the shops, I was very involved in the grant and review process. I was educated at the University of Rochester and have family both here and in CO. My hobbies include reading, art and rearranging my life.

Pam Hanna is a recently retired teacher who has enjoyed gardening with her students for many years. She became acquainted with Unity Gardens during a project at Oakwood Elementary when students combined STEM learning with language arts by designing and creating a sun dial/clock garden with plants that bloomed at specific times of the day.  She looks forward to continued support for gardeners as she begins training in the Master Gardener program in the fall of 2016. Unity Gardens provides many opportunities for her to learn about native planting through interaction with the community of local gardeners.

A retired lawyer, Sally Iliff was educated at Duke University, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Maryland School of Law. She and her husband are longtime Annapolis residents who raised their son and daughter in Annapolis.  After becoming a Master Gardener, Sally’s interest in native plants increased, spurred in part by an interest in attracting more birds, butterflies, insects, and wildlife to her home property and an attempt to control an ongoing assault by invasive plants.  Travel is a strong interest along with a variety of outdoor activities—hiking, kayaking, biking. She and her husband are long time competitive Masters Swimmers who regularly participate in the Chesapeake Bay swim and other open water swims. Sally currently serves as Treasurer.

Lucy Goszkowski has lived and worked in Annapolis since moving here with her family from the Chicago area in 1985. She is employed as a health inspector at the Anne Arundel County Department of Health, in the Bureau of Environmental Health. She is an avid gardener, and is a member and former president of the Annapolis Horticulture Society. Lucy has volunteered with several local organizations, including the Friends of Quiet Waters Park, Historic London Town, the Hammond-Harwood House, and the Anne Arundel SPCA.

Pat Mitchell, who currently serves as Secretary, is a midwestern transplant, but a long time Annapolitan and Bay-Wise gardener. She  is a retired law librarian who enjoys  Master Gardener projects, crafts, reading, travel and  learning about our local ecology and sustainable agriculture.  Pat especially enjoys kayaking and boating on the Bay with her husband, Geoff.  She believes that the Unity Gardens mission of empowering communities to improve their environment with native plants is a positive force in the community.  Each individual really can make a difference by landscaping wisely and working together, and can achieve deep and visible results for our Chesapeake Bay environment.

John Rhoderick has a long history of working in the environmental protection field. From on the ground non-point pollution research to administering multi-million dollar conservation and environmental programs for federal, state and local agencies. His work at the Chesapeake Bay Program, Maryland Department of Agriculture and Maryland Department of Environment has focused on building public-private partnerships to implement on the ground water quality improvements.

Kay Stringfellow joined the Unity Gardens board in 2019. A native Texan, Kay has lived in Maryland since 1987. She is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to her move to Maryland, she worked as a public school teacher in Texas and Mississippi. She is happily retired after 24 years in a variety of positions with the U.S. Department of Defense. Kay’s interest in gardening led her to join the University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener program in 2010. She was a member of the Master Gardener Executive Advisory Board for Anne Arundel  County from 2012 to 2018, serving as Board Chair for 2 years. Kay has one daughter and two grown-up grandchildren.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Joni Sralla Miller is a lifelong environmentalist. She worked previously at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, and currently serves as the Board Chair of the Anne Arundel County Master Gardeners Executive Advisory Board. Joni grew up in Houston, Texas, attended Webster University in St. Louis for an undergraduate degree in Political Science, and got her Masters degree at University of Baltimore in Publications Design. She is passionate about backyard habitat and preserving nature in the face of rapid land development, especially in Anne Arundel County. She is a writer, graphic designer, community gardener, and fan of good books, good food, and good wine. She lives in a 1800’s farmhouse with her husband and two children.