Staff

ADMINISTRATION

Angie Mason

Executive Director

amason@shangrilagardens.org

Angie Mason is the new Executive Director of Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Angie recently joined the team in April 2022 and comes from Chicago Botanic Garden where she was employed for 19 years. Angie most recently served as the Associate VP of Community Engagement and Senior Director of Windy City Harvest where she oversaw all facets of engagement with the community and directed the operations of Windy City Harvest, an urban agriculture education and job training program, with 200 participants and a $3.8M budget. 

Mason has been recognized with multiple awards and accolades, including the North Lawndale Spirit of Youth Development Award and the Illinois Governor’s Environmental Hero Award. Angie is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she earned a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science, and an M.S. in Plant, Soil and General Agriculture. During Angie’s early career she served as Adjunct Faculty in Horticulture, at the Harold Washington College in Chicago, Illinois.  

Angie is known by colleagues as an outstanding and visionary leader, strategic thinker, collaborator, staff manager, and a national and international expert on urban agriculture.

Katie Krantz

Assistant Executive Director

kkrantz@shangrilagardens.org

Katie Krantz is the Assistant Executive Director of Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Katie has spent over 10 years in the non-profit public gardens field. She has contributed to the growth of the gardens over her tenure by serving many roles: overseeing the Volunteer Programs and Education Department, as well as being a key senior staff member, providing top-tier leadership to staff members, volunteers, and programs. Originally from northwestern Pennsylvania, Katie received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Thiel College, and dual Masters Degrees in Environmental Education (M.Ed.) and Park and Resource Management (M.S.) from Slippery Rock University. In 2020, Katie earned her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus in Leadership from Lamar University. In addition to her role at the gardens, Katie serves her community through membership with several local volunteer organizations. Katie not only holds a passion for conservation and education, but also for innovative leadership to expand overall community connections.


GUEST RELATIONS

Marlene Cox

Guest Relations and Events Coordinator

mcox@shangrilagardens.org

Marlene Cox serves as the Guest Relations and Events Coordinator for Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. She is responsible for working with groups to plan, schedule, and coordinate garden and Outpost Tours. Additionally, she supports event planning, general guest relations, and oversight of volunteers who provide visitor orientation/interpretation. Marlene has been working at Shangri La since 2008. She has served in a number of capacities during her tenure at Shangri La including Membership Coordinator. Prior to Shangri La, Marlene was in retail for more than 20 years.


EDUCATION

Katie Krantz

Assistant Executive Director

kkrantz@shangrilagardens.org

Katie Krantz is the Assistant Executive Director of Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Katie has spent over 10 years in the non-profit public gardens field. She has contributed to the growth of the gardens over her tenure by serving many roles: overseeing the Volunteer Programs and Education Department, as well as being a key senior staff member, providing top-tier leadership to staff members, volunteers, and programs. Originally from northwestern Pennsylvania, Katie received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Thiel College, and dual Masters Degrees in Environmental Education (M.Ed.) and Park and Resource Management (M.S.) from Slippery Rock University. In 2020, Katie earned her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus in Leadership from Lamar University. In addition to her role at the gardens, Katie serves her community through membership with several local volunteer organizations. Katie not only holds a passion for conservation and education, but also for innovative leadership to expand overall community connections.

Kathleen Nelligan

Environmental Educator

knelligan@shangrilagardens.org

Kathleen Nelligan is an Environmental Educator with Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. She is responsible for curriculum-based outreach program development, organizing educational materials, supporting other members of the education team, and conducting curriculum based-education programming as well as a variety of public programs. Kathleen received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and earned an M.Ed in Environmental Education as well as an M.S. in Park and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University.

Leah Hubbard

Environmental Educator

Leah Hubbard is an Environmental Educator with Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. She is responsible for curriculum-based outreach program development, organizing educational materials, supporting other members of the education team, and conducting curriculum based-education programming as well as a variety of public programs. Leah received her B.A. from Lamar University in Family Consumer Sciences, earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Austin Community College and currently holds dual Texas Educator Certifications in Art (EC-12) and Family and Consumer Sciences (6-12).

lhubbard@shangrilagardens.org


HORTICULTURE

Jennifer Buckner

Director of Horticulture

jbuckner@shangrilagardens.org

Jennifer is the Director of Horticulture and also manages the plant displays in the Epiphyte House, Exhibition Greenhouses, and Children’s Garden. She provides horticultural support for in-house activities that include environmental education, publications, and staff and volunteer training. Jennifer joined the staff at Shangri La Botanical Gardens in 2007 and holds a Master of Agriculture degree in Floriculture and a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture and Entomology from Texas A&M University. Prior to coming to Shangri La, Jennifer’s experience includes working at an independent garden center retailer and a wholesale nursery.

Deb Wiles

Senior Horticulturist

dwiles@shangrilagardens.org

Deb joined Shangri La Botanical Gardens in 2019 as Senior Horticulturist. She is responsible for leading the garden staff in the cultivation and management of the gardens as well as supporting horticultural activities such as seasonal bedding display design and planning, plant selection, overseeing our organic Integrated Pest Management program and contributing to social media content. Deb has over 20 years of experience in horticulture spanning two continents. Her horticultural education includes a Certificate in Horticulture from UCLA and graduation from the prestigious two-year Professional Horticulture Program at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia, PA. Upon graduating from Longwood, Deb worked as a trainee gardener at Great Dixter House and Gardens in the UK then earned a Master’s degree with distinction in Garden History at the University of Greenwich in London, England. Deb’s previous work experience includes managing the garden care division for a landscape design firm in Los Angeles, as Estate Gardener for a world-renowned luxury resort near Washington, DC, Head Gardener for a private estate in VA, and in public horticulture. Deb also holds a BS in Deaf Studies and is fluent in American Sign Language.

Cheryl Farmer

Production Greenhouse Supervisor

cfarmer@shangrilagardens.org

Cheryl Farmer is the Production Greenhouse Supervisor for Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center and is responsible for providing annual and perennial plants for the Stark Cultural Venues. Duties also include the design and assembly of decorative containers for seasonal displays and special events, conducting workshops, and mentoring staff greenhouse technicians and volunteers. Cheryl has held the Greenhouse Supervisor position for the last 7 years and been actively involved in plant propagation for 42 years. She attended Lamar University-Beaumont, New Orleans School of Creative Floral Design, and is a Texas Certified Master Nursery Professional with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.

Mark Hines

Superintendent, General Grounds & Maintenance Services

mhines@shangrilagardens.org

Mark A. Hines is the Superintendent, General Grounds, and Maintenance Services at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. He oversees daily operations of the garden and grounds maintenance staff, coordinates and directs implementation of landscape planning with respect to sound sustainable landscape practices, and manages irrigation and water quality issues. Mark has 20 years of horticulture experience coupled with a management and supervisory background. Prior to Shangri La, Mark was the Landscape Construction Project Manager directing the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center landscape construction project for Houston based Bio Landscape, overseeing all landscape, irrigation, drainage, and secondary pathway installation. His preceding experience in the nursery and plant production industry in Florida led Mark to Texas. Mark’s certifications include: Texas Certified Landscape Professional with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association; Texas Certified Nursery Professional with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association; and Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture.