Board and Staff

Board of Directors

Sarah Peacock, President
Linda Freisitzer, Vice President
Randi Petrovits, Secretary
Diane Hoe Mucci, Treasurer
Jane Austin 
Carla Barrett
Amy Pelletier Clark
Carolyn J. Cole
Maria DeWald  
Kimberly Hunt Lee
Helen Page
Linda Patzner
Barbara Peeler  
Elizabeth Simonson
Carol Vinall

Board of Advisors

Catherine E. Baer
Nancy Berner
Michael Dupree
Deborah Gordon
Gail Griffin
Angela Henry
Katherine H. Kerin
Susan Lowry
Frederic C. Rich
Nevill Smythe
Judith B. Tankard
Heather Whitefield



BFGA Executive Director Karen S Smythe

Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, Karen has a BA in Drama from Vassar College and an MBA from The University of Virginia Darden School of Business Administration. Karen has both public and private corporate experience, including sixteen years as an executive at C.B. Strain & Son, a Poughkeepsie based mechanical contracting business. Before that, Karen was a marketing executive in the food industry for such brands as Doritos Tortilla Chips, Skippy Peanut Butter and Dannon Yogurt.

Karen is an amateur gardener with a green thumb inherited from her mother, a long-time member of the Orange & Dutchess Garden Club. Karen has served on local nonprofit boards, including Vassar College, where she is a trustee and the Bardavon 1869 Opera House where she is the Immediate Past President of the Board.

Garden Educator Anne Cleves Symmes

Anne was the Horticulturist for the Beatrix Farrand Garden Association for twenty years from 1997 to 2017. She was the leader of the team that brought the garden at the Bellefield Estate back to its former glory.

Anne grew up in Madison, Georgia working at Cedar Lane Farm, a family owned nursery and display garden that specialized in historic and native plants. After completing the landscape design program at the New York Botanical Garden, she pursued her interest in public gardens by working at Bryant Park and the Conservatory Garden in New York City as both a gardener and garden educator.

Horticulturist Karen Waltuch

Karen is the Gardener at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City where she maintains the 1.8 acre public park, offers a summer Garden Camp and leads many garden craft and volunteer workshops throughout the year. She did her professional studies as a John Nally Intern at Wave Hill in the Bronx and with the Horticultural Society of NY as a Rikers Island GreenHouse Program intern. Through interning and volunteering Karen found her passion for gardening in public spaces and she finds it a privilege to teach and spread her enthusiasm for all living things.

In her other life Karen is a professional violist who has a diverse career in the NYC jazz, contemporary, Broadway and studio scenes.