Non-profit executive directors tend to be exceptional people, but Lisa Roberts’ level of service has been extraordinary. This month we celebrate a decade of accomplishments under her watch. We also express our appreciation for her skill, poise and style. We are honored to have Lisa as the face of the Foundation. Lisa Roberts, top row, third from left, with the board and staff, 2013.
Thank You, Wonder Woman
For 10 years now, other volunteers and I have listened and learned from Lisa, trusted her instincts, followed her lead. Steered by Lisa, the Foundation finds itself in a good place and time, having grown from infancy to maturity, capable of fulfilling its mission and achieving its vision.
– Jeff Caster, FDOT, past chair, Florida Wildflower Foundation
The story starts here in 2008
Jeff Caster, Walter Taylor and David Fasser make up the 2008 search committee. After all interviews are complete, Chair Jeff Caster reports that “Walter’s and David’s determined and robust advocacy for Lisa helped me understand that she was, in fact, the best candidate. … The three of us were confident in our decision; confident in Lisa. David, so pleased, said, ‘We just hired Wonder Woman.’”
Over 10 years, Lisa’s contribution has been massive.
Anne MacKay helped create the State Wildflower license tag in 2000 and is a founding member of the Foundation, which was created to manage the proceeds. Anne says, “It would be hard if not impossible for me to detail all the ways that Lisa is the voice and face of Florida wildflowers. She has created an able staff and encouraged board members who are creative and connected with the world of native wildflowers. I’m impressed with her knowledge of and insight into so many organizations and how we can work together. …. Needless to say, her vision and artistry have brought us far and made us accessible and visible to Floridians.”
Many gifts, passing it forward
I have known Lisa for two decades. Her dedication to her work is wholehearted. Her love of Florida’s natural areas is expressed in all areas of her life. Not only an environmentalist, Master Naturalist and administrator, she is a gifted artist.
– David Price, FWF board member, Bok Tower Gardens president
Lisa came to the Foundation in 2008 from the Orlando Sentinel, where she worked as editor and writer, often covering Florida outdoors. As a newspaper woman with journalistic sensibilities, she honed her ability to analyze and describe – her standards for accuracy, balance and clarity have certainly been a gift to the Foundation.
Dena Wild, longtime board member, sums up the other qualities that make Lisa the great executive director she is: “Professionalism, commitment, dedication, creativity, and a swell person.”
So many of those who have had the privilege of working with Lisa endorse her down-to-earth style. “Lisa is very funny, and she is supremely kind. She genuinely cares for people and is gracious in offering help,” says board member Melissa Hunt.
Whether presenting to organizations or participating in work groups, Lisa is both realistic and inspired – a critical combination.
LISA IS THE FOUNDATION! Her leadership and dedication has taken FWF to achieve lofty goals! Thanks, Lisa, we all love you!
– Carolyn Schaag, Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, FWF co-founder
The power of passion
Passion is what drives an organization to success. Without it you flounder. Lisa Roberts’ passion for Florida wildflowers has driven the Florida Wildflower Foundation to be successful and has motivated thousands to support its cause. She leads by example and her passion shines through all she does.
– Terry Zinn, FWF chairman
Lisa clearly cares deeply about engaging the citizens of Florida and reaches out in many ways to instill the love of learning about wildflowers. She gets out of the office and gets to know folks. You’ll see her in exhibit booths, at conferences and on field trips.
Nancy Bissett, FWF board member and owner of The Natives Nursery says, “Lisa is deeply caring of Florida’s natural beauty and she has the talents and drive to take advantage of every opportunity to increase that knowledge and love to all Floridians. We are so fortunate to have her at the helm of FWF.”
“Lisa Roberts loves wildflowers!,” adds board member Melissa Hunt. “Her passion and dedication to the industry are palpable. You can see it in how her face lights up when talking about flowers and pollinators. You can hear in her voice how she truly believes in the work she does to promote and maintain Florida’s wildflower industry. No one can ever say that she is not dedicated to this special cause.”
Building the team
Lisa has a remarkable ability to instill loyalty in everyone working on behalf of the Foundation. Lisa is self-confident, but without hubris; she clearly respects the abilities of others. She has the highest expectations for performance, but endless patience for the process, with empathy for life’s travails.
Melissa Hunt explains it this way: “Watching how Lisa processes and distributes information is very interesting and, well, cool. I appreciate her calm demeanor in dealing with people, and how she cheers people on … it is clear that people on the board and within the industry respect her. She must be doing something right to garner that level of trust.”
Jeff Norcini, longtime FWF research contractor, shares his gratitude. “I deeply appreciate Lisa’s support of my endeavors (and helping me be a better writer, a never-ending quest …),” says Jeff. “And I am most grateful for the heart and soul she has poured into the Foundation and advocating for Florida’s native wildflowers.”
“Lisa Roberts sets the bar for all executive directors within Florida’s conservation community, and I’ve had the privilege to work with some great ones.” says Cindy Liberton, web designer. “Lisa’s got skill, wisdom, passion, flexibility – she’s got it all, and you want to do your best for her.”
According to plan: Addressing the mission
For a decade, Lisa has remained driven by the Foundation’s mission in all its iterations. As the board members change and the strategic plans shift, Lisa stays true to course and guided by the board.
Claudia Larsen, longtime administrator for the Foundation’s Seedlings for Schools program, believes that “due to Lisa, the Florida Wildflower Foundation has evolved into a distinctly unique environmental organization whose focus on wildflowers benefits Floridians of all ages and our changing Florida landscapes.”
Lisa has been the organizing force behind FWF that has kept us on track and focused on what our true goals and mission should be. I believe that FWF would not be the leader that it is today without her influence. Someone has had to keep the herd all together, and she’s done a great job of it.
– Brightman Logan, former board member, FWF research chair
Through Lisa’s efforts, the Florida Wildflower Foundation and its partners in the Florida Panhandle have researched wildflower routes, identified common species, established hotspots, monitored mowing, and importantly, established a Florida Panhandle Wildflower Alliance to keep it all in motion.
I am very appreciative of Lisa’s work to set up the Florida Panhandle Wildflower Alliance and to provide staff support for the continued expansion of roadside wildflower protection in northwest Florida.
– Eleanor Dietrich, former FWF PWA/FDOT Liaison
A decade of accomplishment
Jeff Caster sums it up: “Visible, prominent, sustainable and meaningful testament to Lisa’s devotion to the Foundation and to native wildflowers is inscribed on the pages of the Foundation website – a virtual Florida Wildflower Center. The world comes here to discover, be inspired, and to learn about Florida native wildflowers.”
Thank you, Wonder Woman, for all you have accomplished and given generously to the Florida Wildflower Foundation, to its members and leaders, and to quality of life in the La Florida, Land of Flowers.
– Jeff Caster, FWF past chairman
On her watch: what Lisa’s been up to.
Contracts, bookkeeping, audits, reports; challenging administrative tasks at the core to the Foundation’s research, education and planting programs. Lisa somehow keeps it all straight, and makes sure the funds keep coming in and going out according to plan. The result is a non-stop history of endeavor.
Orchestrated redesign of Foundation’s branding.
Enlisted Jeff Norcini and Gill Nelson to research wildflower hotspots.
Sent John Moran on assignment to photograph native wildflowers.
Wrote and published a quarterly newsletter; maintained FWF blog.
Supported creation of groovy art for T-shirts.
Provided support and content for Florida Association of Native Nurseries’ Guide for Real Florida Gardeners.
Initiated redesign of Foundation website in 2010.
Conducted review of research literature on wildflower propagation.
Established the Nature Viewing Along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail app.
Supported creation of wildflower videos.
Developed custom seed packets for the 2013 Quincentennial celebration.
Created a series of Foundation fact sheets for growing and maintaining wildflowers.
Initiated annual contest for close-up, landscape and pollinator photos.
Established Viva Florida planting grant program for public spaces.
Organized tour of wildflower photography exhibit by John Moran, with accompanying poster.
Helped enact model wildflower resolutions in over half of Florida counties.
Organized annual statewide wildflower symposium.
Introduced online merchandise and seeds.
Established Florida Wildflower Flickr groups.
Began focus on pollinator research and education.
Orchestrated the creation of the Florida Panhandle Wildflower Alliance.
Launched series of popular field trips throughout Florida.
Initiated 2017 update and redesign of Foundation website.
Released the Wild About Wildflowers! activity guide.
Implemented Bartram Legacy Society giving program.
Its difficult to express how pleased I am at what you have accomplished with my “Baby.” Thank you, Thank You, Thank you! I look forward to many more years of your guidance!
– Gary Henry, Founder, Florida Wildflower Foundation