Meet the volunteers who serve AHTA

Derrick R. Stowell, Ph.D., CTRS, HTR
he / him / his

Derrick is the Education and Horticultural Therapy Program Administrator for the University of Tennessee Gardens. Derrick is responsible for creating the University of Tennessee Gardens horticultural therapy program. He holds a BA in environmental studies and outdoor recreation from Maryville College and an MS in therapeutic recreation from the University of Tennessee. Derrick received his Ph.D. in plant, soil, and environmental sciences from the University of Tennessee. 


President Elect

Lana Dreyfuss, LPC, LCADC, SEP, HTR
Lana is a licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor, somatic experiencing practitioner, and horticultural therapist registered. She holds a MA from the University of Maryland in counseling. She currently works at United Indian Health Services in northern California serving Native American community members with behavioral health services to include the modality of horticultural therapy. Lana has been serving on the AHTA board of directors and work teams since 2004.

Ciri Malamud, CRC, HTR

Ciri is a certified rehabilitation counselor and a registered horticultural therapist. She is currently conducting therapeutic garden programs in NYC Parks (Brooklyn) for young disabled adults who have aged out of the NYC education system. Ciri is a co-founding partner of TandC Associates, LLC, consulting with programs of psychosocial rehabilitation and horticultural therapy in the United States and overseas (Norway, Haiti, and Australia) to promote self-empowerment and progress through informed choices.

Gary L. Altman, CRC, HTR

Gary is a professionally registered horticultural therapist and certified rehabilitation counselor. He earned his horticultural therapy certificate at Rutgers University, where he also holds an MS in rehabilitation counseling. Gary is a lecturer, and the associate director of the Rutgers University horticultural therapy program, and specializes in horticultural skills training and supported employment for individuals with disabilities.  

Immediate Past President
Erin Backus, CRC, HTR 
Erin is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a professionally registered Horticultural Therapist, receiving her certificate from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. She holds a BT in plant science from SUNY Cobleskill and an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from SUNY Buffalo. She serves as the Certificate Program Accreditation Review Board Chair, as well as the president of the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network. Erin is the lead Horticultural Therapist for Plant Happiness, LLC where she also serves as a distance supervisor. 
Debra Edwards, HTR
she / hers / hers

Debra is a registered horticultural therapist (2013) and received her horticultural therapy certificate from the horticultural Therapy Institute and a Bachelor of landscape architecture from Auburn University. Debra has 17 years of experience in landscape design and maintenance and 4 years of experience in horticultural therapy programming.  Now, Debra works as the horticultural therapist at the Life Enrichment Center in Shelby, NC. The population she serves includes adults with disabilities or dementia at two adult day care campuses.


Nicole Giron, MPH,
she / hers / hers
Nicole is a registered Horticultural Therapist, receiving her certificate from the Horticulture Therapy Institute, as well as a Certified Recreation Therapy Specialist. She holds a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she also works as the Director of the Recreation Therapy program at UNMC’s Munroe Meyer Institute. Nicole works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan and teaches a variety of programs as well as incorporates horticultural therapy into her practice with the primary focus being on a farm to fork cultivation.

Matthew Jansen

Matthew Janson is a Certified Recreation Therapy Specialist currently working at the Boston Veteran Affairs Hospital. He received his BA from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management, emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in Exercise Science. At the Boston VA Matt works with veterans in hospice, long term care, and physical rehabilitation on a range of therapeutic issues integrating both Recreation Therapy and Therapeutic Horticulture.


Sara Rodriguez
Sara is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in California. She has worked in the mental/behavioral health field for 17 years. Sara received the Excellence in Research Award from the University of La Verne. The research focused on resiliency as opposed to a pathology emphasis in treatment. Currently, she is the Clinical Therapist in a garden at a Community Mental Health center. Therapeutic horticulture has been the focus of her work for 5 years.


Laura Rumpf, HTR
she / her
Laura is a registered horticultural therapist currently living in Southern Maine. She is currently an independent contractor. Populations she has served include, among others, those with dementia, students with developmental disabilities, veterans, those with brain injuries. Laura is in collaboration with the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department’s Dementia-Friendly program and the University of Washington Memory & Brain Wellness Center. Laura received her certificate in horticultural therapy from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. 


Richard Slayton, RLA, ASLA, EDAC
Richard is a licensed landscape architect. He integrates biophilic design in healthcare and senior living environments throughout the United States. One of his most rewarding accomplishments is designing a one-acre healing garden in collaboration with St. Mary’s Foundation at SSM-Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville, Wisconsin. Richard just began a year-long commitment with the Center for Community Land Trust Innovation and a Hmong group to program, design and develop a dementia care garden.


Binxia Xue, PhD, HTR
Binxia, Ph.D. in Engineering and Master in Architecture, serves as an associate professor and doctoral supervisor in the School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology at Harbin, China. He received his certificate in HT from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. He is professionally engaged in the design and research of the restorative environment and healing space in urban planning with abundant accumulations both in the theory and practices of healthy living environment and horticultural therapy theory and project planning.


Lynn Zeltman, HTR
Lynn has been a registered horticultural therapist since 2017. She earned her Certificate in Horticultural Therapy from Delaware Valley University in 2015 and did her internship at Moss Rehab, a physical medicine, and rehab facility, in 2016.  She is the treasurer for the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network.  


AHTA Past Presidents

  • 2020-2021 Erin Backus, CRC, HTR 
  • 2015-2020 Leigh Anne Starling, LCPC, CRC, HTR
  • 2013-2015 MaryAnne McMillan, HTR
  • 2010-2013 Gabriela Harvey, HTR
  • 2007-2010 Lana Dreyfuss, HTR
  • 2002-2007 Nancy Easterling, HTR
  • 1999-2002 Karin Fleming, HTR
  • 1998-1999 Maria Gabaldo, HTR
  • 1996-1998 Martha Straus, HTM
  • 1994-1996 Rebecca Haller, HTM
  • 1992-1994 Gene Rothert, HTR
  • 1989-1992 Nancy Stevenson, HTR
  • 1987-1989 Douglas Airhart, PhD, HTM
  • 1986-1987 Judy Carrier, HTR
  • 1984-1985 T. Kent Titze, HTM
  • 1983-1984 Ken T. Stoutamire, HTM
  • 1980-1983 Merle M. Moore
  • 1979           William Townsley, PhD
  • 1975-1979 Paula Diane Relf, PhD, HTR
  • 1973-1975 Earl Copus