The Conservatory of Flowers is a Victorian wood-and-glass greenhouse in Golden Gate Park, filled with exotic tropical plants and flowers. Come and see us!


Matthew Stephens Garden Director Name: Matthew Stephens, Garden Director
Started at the COF: March 2016 
Primary responsibilities: Leader and driver of future success for the Conservatory. Staff/volunteer motivator and primary spokesperson. Director of financial management and fund development.
Education/certifications: B.S. from Illinois State University in Horticulture and M.S. from the University of Delaware in Public Horticulture in the Longwood Graduate Program. Museum Studies Certificate, certified as an Arborist, and certified as a professional facilitator.
Favorite thing at the COF: Our visitors! Our visitors come from down the block and from the other side of the planet. We are so honored to have each and every visitor, and the team at the Conservatory works tirelessly to ensure the Conservatory is open, the plants look great and our visitors have an amazing experience.
Email: mstephens@sfcof.org
Guest Services and Gift Shop Manager, Vanessa Fajardo Name: Vanessa Fajardo, Director of Operations and Administration
Started at the COF: October 2010 
Primary responsibilities: Managing and supporting the Guest Services team, purchasing locally sourced gift shop items, design and management of the gift shop
Favorite thing at the COF: I love coming into the Conservatory in the mornings when the rain function is on. It creates the most soothing sounds and smells in the city. There is no place in all of San Francisco more appealing to all five senses than the Conservatory of Flowers.
Email: vfajardo@sfcof.org
Erika Name: Erika Frank, Director of Volunteers and Education 
Started at the COF: 2010
Primary responsibilities: Recruiting and managing volunteers. Providing educational materials for volunteers, school groups, and visitors.
Education/Certifications: B.F.A. from the University of Michigan. Studied Floral Design at City College of San Francisco.
Favorite thing at the COF: The smell! The spicy fragrance of the Stanhopea orchid is intoxicating, and even the pungent corpse flowers are wonderful in their own way.
Email: efrank@sfcof.org
Name: Lau Hodges, Director of Exhibits and Special Projects
Started at the COF: 2007
Education/certifications: B.A. from the University of San Francisco; B.A. from Universite de Grenoble; Merritt College, Landscape Horticulture
Favorite thing at the COF: Its historic relevance to San Francisco, Golden Gate Park and worldwide plant communities.
Email: lhodges@sfcof.org

Name: Esther Hong, Guest Services Manager
Started at the COF: March 2016
Primary responsibilities: Managing and supporting the Guest Services team, purchasing locally sourced gift shop items and management of the gift shop.
Education/Certifications:  Working towards a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies.
Favorite thing at the COF: I love how much the Conservatory changes every day! I try to walk through every morning I am on site, and I am always overwhelmed by how many new plants I come across. I don’t think I will ever learn all of their names, but it is my mission to try!
Email: ehong@sfcof.org

Name: Eric Imperiale, Nursery Specialist
Started at the COF: 2007
Primary responsibilities: Highland Tropics Gallery, Pleurothallid orchid collection, cool-growing orchids, special exhibits
Education/certifications: B.A. from San Francisco State University
Favorite thing at the COF: One of my favorite things about the Conservatory of Flowers is the way in which its aesthetic beauty seamlessly interconnects education and conservation, people and plants, and the past and present.
Email: eimperiale@sfcof.org
Kristen Name: Kristen Natoli, Chief Nursery Specialist
Started at the COF: September 2016 
Primary responsibilities: Steward of our exceptional tropical plant collection and beautiful Victorian conservatory structure.
Education/certifications: B.S. from Cornell University with a focus in Plant Ecology. 
Favorite thing at the COF:  Each gallery of the Conservatory has a unique character and story to tell. The collections they hold are a captivating way to engage visitors with the diverse, fragile and wondrous tropical ecosystems they represent.
Email: knatoli@sfcof.org

Name: Nayana Ningappa, Special Events & Weddings Assistant Manager
Started at the COF: November 2016 
Primary responsibilities: Supervise all private event rentals; coordinate with wedding clients and vendors to create special events and weddings.
Education/certifications: Masters in International Marketing from Hult International Business School
Favorite thing at the COF:  What excites me most about the Conservatory of Flowers is its ability to transform from a space open for public appreciation to a private events venue that eternalizes many fond memories created on special occasions like proposals, engagement shoot, weddings and ceremonies to name a few. The building holds on to its heritage with its breathtaking Victorian architecture, while embracing modernity which is my favorite feature about the conservatory.
Email: nningappa@sfcof.org

Name: Samantha Ordway, Weddings and Special Events Manager
Started at the COF: July 2015
Primary responsibilities: Manage all private event rentals; coordinate with wedding clients and vendors to create a special and seamless celebration.
Favorite thing at the COF: The Conservatory at night, both inside and out. The way the lights shine on the building highlighting the Victorian accents and the uplighting throughout the planter beds create a truly majestic ambiance.
Email: sordway@sfcof.org

Name: Drew Risner-Davis, Exhibit Manager
Started at the COF: 2016 
Education: Studying Environmental Horticulture at City College of San Francisco
Primary Responsibilities: Managing the special exhibit; Leading tours of the COF's permanent collection
Favorite thing at the COF: Whether it's the recipes shared from all corners of the globe or the tales of exotic expeditions in far off places... my favorite thing has to be the stories from our visitors. Through teaching others about the tropics and our plant collection I love learning new things about the world from our incredible guests!
Email: drisnerdavis@sfcof.org


Name:  Lizzie Roeble, Education Coordinator
Started at the COF: June 2016
Primary responsibilities: Connect the public to the Conservatory’s tropical plant collection. Coordinate visitor engagement.
Education/Certifications: BSc from the University of San Francisco with major in environmental science and minor in urban agriculture.  Research at UC Davis on urban forestry and climate change. Ecological Horticulture apprenticeship at Alemany Farm (2011).  
Favorite thing at the COF: I love our plant collection and the tropical ecosystems they represent. Each plant has its own fascinating story and history. At the Conservatory we have the wonderful, and important, opportunity to highlight these plants and open dialogues around biodiversity and conservation. I am also a big fan of our carnivorous plant collection. Everything from Nepenthes to Cephalotus to Heliamphora.
Email: lroeble@sfcof.org


Name: Jane Scurich, Director of Development
Started at the COF: 2007
Primary responsibilities: Manage fund development initiatives and membership program, collaborate with dedicated volunteers to plan fabulous events, coordinate foundation grant proposals, cultivate corporate sponsors and business partnerships.
Education/certifications: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Marin County Master Gardener, Association of Fundraising Professionals
Favorite thing at the COF: Whatever is in bloom at the moment. My favorite moment is when the Clerodendrum thomsoniae (Tropical Bleeding Heart) is in bloom.
Email: jscurich@sfcof.org
May Slen Name: May Slen, Development and Membership Associate
Started at the COF: June 2016 / July 2014 (Guest Services)
Primary Responsibilities: Make sure that our members are involved, proud to support the beautiful COF and ensure that you receive the proper perks and adjustments. I process your new memberships and can provide you with answers to your membership inquiries. I assist with preparing grants, online and print newsletters, and fundraising on behalf of the COF under the Director of Development. I am the COF’s Salesforce system administrator.
Education/Certification: Currently obtaining a B.S. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration at San Francisco State University; Certificates in Sustainability, and Green and Sustainable Business from City College of San Francisco
Favorite thing at the COF: The botanical history that comes along with the history of the victorian-era conservatory architecture that is able to bring people together for the love of plants. Some selected records include hanging tropical pitcher plants (my favorite is the nepenthes bicalcarata), vibrant epiphyllum blooms and giant victoria amazonica that have historically lived in the Conservatory. (Email me if you want to hear more!)
Email: MSlen@sfcof.org
Janet Spellman
Name: Janet Spellmann, Nursery Specialist
Started at the COF: 2011
Primary responsibilities: Potted Plants Gallery, special exhibits, cultivate, pot and maintain the beautiful begonias, orchids and thousands of other plants in the Potted Plants Gallery.
Favorite thing at the COF: Like the hundreds of people who flock to the Conservatory every time it blooms, I particularly love the Amophophallus konjac (shown at left). The stench of the A. konjac's inflorescence, while repugnant to humans, is a seductive lure for the beetles and flies that pollinate this beautiful plant.
Email: jspellmann@sfcof.org
Tim Tyson
Name: Tim Tyson, Assistant Director of Operations
Started at the COF: 2011
Education: UC Berkeley, B.A., Rhetoric
Primary Responsibilities: Managing and supporting the Guest Services team, supervising gift shop and admissions operations, and contributing as a member of Exhibits Team.
Favorite thing at the COF: Walking through the greenhouses on a cool or rainy day. The smell of our tropical magnolia (magnolia liliifera) and coconut orchid (Maxillaria tenuifolia). Our collection of begonias, and our ficus triangularis in the Aquatics gallery.
Email: TTyson@sfcof.org
Mario Name: Mario Vega, Nursery Specialist 
Started at the COF: 2007
Primary responsibilities: Aquatic Gallery, Lowland Gallery, lobby, special exhibits
Education/Certifications: City College of San Francisco
Favorite plant at the COF: Impatiens niamniamensis, also called "Parrot Impatiens" and "Congo Cockatoo", was one of the first to catch my eye here at the Conservatory. The flower's colors are bright and striking, reminiscent of a candy treat or a flock of parrots.
Email: mvega@sfcof.org