About Our 2024 Speakers

Ron McCabe

Founder of Everbearing Services, Ron is an internationally recognized SEO (search engine optimization) expert specializing in Landscaping companies and the horticultural industry.

Ron and his team help horticultural companies, including landscapers, garden centers, arborists, and wholesalers to improve their online visibility and customer engagement. With a background in technology and engineering, Ron has helped many businesses grow from small operations to multi-million-dollar organizations.

Nicholas Staddon

Nicholas Staddon has been working with plant breeders, hybridizers, and professional plant explores for 30 years, scouring the globe for new creations and discoveries in the plant world. Born in England, Staddon received credentials in Agricultural Science from Otley Agricultural College.

When he first arrived in the United States, he managed garden centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico “…where the vistas will move your heart and the gardening will break it,” he says. Staddon went on to work for Monrovia Nursery for 27 years, 15 of which as the leader of the New Plant program.

Staddon resides in California and is working with Everde Growers as their Spokesperson and Plantsman supporting their marketing and new plant introduction programs. He is a sought-after speaker and guest for gardening television and radio shows across the United States. He works closely with professional garden writers, providing information on plants and sharing his views on garden trends and more.

Nicholas is proud to be professionally affiliated with the Royal Horticultural Society, California Plant Alliance, and AmericanHort. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Mediterranean Garden Society of Southern California, Climate Ready Landscape Plants, a USDA SCMP Project, and Cal-HIP (California Horticultural Invasives Prevention), which is a voluntary partnership to help gardeners and the horticultural industry to proactively address the problem of invasive plants in the trade. He is also a Regional Director of GardenComm. A community of Garden Writers and Communicators working across the United States providing gardening information and related services.

Dave Phelps

At an early age seeking meaning, I found myself immersed in the coolest combination of indigenous beliefs, organic gardening and Zen Buddhism. That was high school.

I went to Cal Poly and studied plants—Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Moving back to the Bay Area, I started a landscaping company. For the next couple of decades, I thrived designing and building high end residential gardens in Marin and beyond. Then, a pivot: I got a job with a large commercial landscape company as their sustainability manager. I started teaching. Consulting. Selling regenerative landscape practices.

Then, another pivot: I became a self- employed landscape architect, consultant, and educator. To say I have a gardening problem is fairly accurate.

Robert Murray

Rob Murray is the Co-founder and CEO of Intrigue Media, a digital marketing company that has been empowering and growing businesses in the home improvement space for the last 14 years. Intrigue has been on Canada’s Growth 500 list for four years, is a

Google Premier Partner and is Meta Certified. Rob directs the organizational vision, works with clients to grow their businesses, and ensures that Intrigue has the right people and the right tools to get results. He is the past President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Southwest Ontario and sits on the board of his local hospital as the digital marketing chair.

Meriel Bradley

Meriel has spent the last 25 years honing her skills and expertise in marketing and media, working with clients as wide ranging as KitchenAid, L’Oreal, P & G, Canadian Beef, Mushrooms Canada, Branthaven Homes, and the Ontario Greenhouse Association, to help them achieve and exceed their business growth goals. She and the team at Intrigue take great pleasure in working alongside businesses in the home renovation, home construction and landscaping fields. Intrigue has been on Canada’s Growth 500 list for four years, is a Google Premier Partner and Meta Certified.

Meriel’s expertise in media and digital marketing, along with her deep understanding of the unique challenges companies face in gaining and maintaining the attention of B2B and B2C customers, make her a dynamic and engaging speaker. She captivates and educates her audience, sharing proven best practices that help businesses uncover insights, attract their A-client, attain measurable results, and achieve continuous business growth.

Beyond her work with Intrigue, Meriel can be found in her garden and on the local hiking trails, exploring the flora and fauna with her camera in tow.

Kevin Battistoni

Kevin Battistoni is the National Customer Experience Manager for Hunter Industries, a global irrigation and outdoor lighting product manufacturer. Based out of the Chicagoland area and baptized in sprinkler water, this fourth-generation irrigator spent two decades in family business rolling around in the dirt before turning in his shovel for a broom, working in the green industry supply chain.
During his decade in distribution, he played all positions, including store manager and sales manager, focusing on irrigation, landscape lighting, drainage, and water features. With over a decade of service at Hunter Industries, he has experienced a rebirth with technology-driven products and services entering the green industry. He aims to help green industry professionals leverage technology to grow their businesses and increase their profits.

Wendy Proud

Raised under the sunny skies of Southern California, Wendy Proud grew up fascinated by her childhood garden of cacti, unusual succulents and prolific avocado trees. She quickly developed a passion for all aspects of gardening, from planting seedlings with her mom to driving a tractor with her dad.

Never changing course, Wendy became a career horticulturist and now has over thirty years of sales and production experience in the retail and wholesale nursery industry. Upon earning an ornamental horticulture degree from Cal Poly, Pomona, while gaining experience at several nurseries, she was hired as a sales rep by Monrovia Growers. Promoted to become a grower at the nursery grounds in Central California, Wendy managed production for 300 plant varieties on 125 acres and supervised over 100 employees.

Relocating to Pasadena, Wendy launched and became co-owner of Proud Murphy, Inc., a landscape design and installation company focused on proper plant selection and streamlined maintenance programs. She advocated organic gardening practices, offered horticultural coaching, and promoted the ground-breaking concept of quarterly and bi-yearly maintenance for healthier, better-performing plants.

Keen on sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with the gardening public, Wendy joined the high-end destination nursery Roger’s Gardens in Corona Del Mar. In addition to designing their famously dramatic ready-made planters, she became a So Cal gardening celebrity with her monthly seminars and weekly cable show, “The Proud Gardener.”

Today, Wendy is the sole proprietor of Proud Plant Sales, Inc., representing both Mountain States Wholesale Nursery (MSWN), in Glendale, Arizona, and Rancho Soledad Nurseries, in Rancho Santa Fe, California. She has traveled throughout the West giving presentations to the nursery trade, professional groups and garden clubs, educating audiences about MSWN’s beautiful and diverse low-water-use species from the southwest as well as the vast world of subtropical and tropical plants sold by Rancho Soledad.

Wendy has been featured in Sunset, San Diego Home & Garden, and DIY Home & Garden Network. As past president of the Los Angeles chapter of the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, she has worked to provide scholarships to students pursuing careers in horticulture.

Wendy continues to spread her captivating enthusiasm and vast horticultural knowledge to inspire gardeners and landscapers with site-appropriate plants and common-sense practices to help them thrive.

Dr. Lorence Oki

Lorence Oki, Ph.D. has served as a specialist in cooperative extension in environmental horticulture since 2002 in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. His research and extension activities focus on water issues in greenhouse and nursery production and landscape horticulture, management of urban-agricultural-natural interfaces, landscape plant introductions, urban landscape planning and urban integrated pest management programs. Prior to UC Davis, he worked at a family nursery in Sacramento, California.

Karey Windbiel-Rojas

Karey Windbiel-Rojas is the Associate Director for Urban and Community IPM and Area Urban IPM Advisor with the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM). In her role as Associate Director, Karey provides leadership and coordinates communication and collaboration to address pest issues around homes, structures, landscapes, gardens, schools, and public areas and works with various audiences who live in or serve these areas.

Karey oversees UC IPM’s statewide urban educational materials, including content for the UC IPM website, training materials, and printed resources.
As a cooperative extension advisor, she conducts research and provides educational resources on local pest issues in the three counties she serves.

Karey earned a Master’s degree in Integrated Pest Management from UC Davis in 2006, where her studies focused on entomology, biological control,and pesticides, and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Gordon Mann

Gordon is a consulting arborist in Auburn CA, and co-owner of CalTLC, owner of Mann Made Resources, co-founder of TREES ROI, and the US Soils Genomics Institute. He has over 45 years of experience managing trees where people live from the municipal, non-profit, and private tree care perspectives. He is a current Director on the California Urban Forests Council, and a recent Trustee on the TREE Fund Board. He is passionate about helping others grow quality trees where people live and educating the people on proper tree care.

Most trees are over-pruned, and this stresses trees while usually avoiding reducing the risks associated with tree failures. Trees need leaves to grow! Most trees growing where people live have altered the soil struggling to find the necessary organic matter, oxygen, and soil moisture.

Gordon is a past member of the ISA Board of Directors, past president of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, Western Chapter ISA, San Mateo Arboretum Society, California Arborists Association, and servs on the ANSI A300 for the Society of Municipal Arborists, now serving as the alternate and participating on subcommittees to review and approve industry standards. He is an ISA certification proctor for the Western Chapter and enjoys talking about trees with people. The CalTLC consulting company is appreciated for the expert advice provided to tree owners, tree care companies, attorneys, and developers.

Wei Zhang, Education Coordinator

Wei Zhang is the Education Coordinator of The Institute of Soil Genomics for Healthy Community Forests and the VP of R&D at Zynnovation LLCHe holds a Ph.D. degree in Engineering from Virginia Tech. He has been doing research & development for the green industry for 15 years. His research areas include watering solutions for landscape plants, relationship of soil/water/air, plant protection against stresses like drought and road salt. His work also provides novel solutions to green stormwater infrastructures, for which plants are used for the treatment of pollutants in stormwater.

After working with every segment of the green industry (nurseries/growers, landscapers, landscape architects, civil/transportation engineers, arborists, horticulturalists, landscapers, and municipal foresters) for over ten years, Wei realized something was missing.

The soil needs to be discussed more as the most fundamental aspect of growing trees in built environments.

Even when soil is the topic, it is mainly about NPK and micronutrients. The importance of microbial should be emphasized. Soil Genomics reveals the population and makeup of soil microbes and provides a tool to pinpoint the problems with trees growing in our city landscapes.

He has more than 40+ peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, one monograph and 200+ conference presentations. He has been a frequent speaker on Arboriculture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Forestry, Stormwater Green Infrastructure, and related conferences and symposiums. He is known as a scientist, educator and public speaker. Dr. Zhang is an ASLA approved LA CES provider.

L. Dean Alberty, Director of Strategic Planning

Lawrence D Alberty is a visionary in urban tree health and soil conservation. With decades of expertise and a passion for sustainable growth, Lawrence leads us toward a greener tomorrow.

Dean is also the Senior Chair of the Missouri Community Forestry Council. The Chair position helps set the course of our council and promotes growth and development for our organization. The Council covers the State of Missouri Urban Forestry professionals and stretches to neighboring states that benefit from the extensive organization and growth of the Missouri Council. Dean elevates urban forestry across the state. His partnership with ISA and PGMS education programs drives sustainable practices and green leadership.

In addition, Dean is involved in growing better trees and helping people grow better trees as CEO of Deep Roots Microbiome Company from the years of experience improving tree growth and production. his profound knowledge of soil microbes empowers us to uncover the secrets of genomics for healthier communities.