Born on a farm in Southwestern Virginia, from an early age Barbara shared her family’s passion for growing things. Perhaps the first sign that exhibiting orchids would become important to her was when, as a child, she collected ‘slippers’, moss and twigs from the woods to assemble something she thought was beautiful. Fast-forward to 1990, her orchid odyssey went full throttle when she rebloomed a gift cattleya and subsequently had to have ‘one of each’ as the windowsill hobby evolved into a large varied collection in a spacious gardenroom-greenhouse addition to her 100 year old home in the heart of Richmond, Virginia. Involvement in almost every leadership role of two local orchid societies for a dozen years brought her the most pleasure when she was mentoring novices and designing award winning displays. During this time, she was privileged to have two of her plants awarded by the AOS – one CHM and one HCC – but was much more excited about bringing ribbons, rosettes and awards back to others in her local group…….especially to those who had been timid about entering their plants for the first time.
Study at Madison College (now James Madison University) and Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) toward a career in education and later advertising and public relations did not necessarily prepare her for the sixteen years she enjoyed in management of food, beverage, banquet and convention sales departments in the hotel industry. However, the sum of it all has served her well in operating both of her businesses – Hospitality Critiques, a hospitality industry consulting firm; and since 1999 Celebrate Orchids! LLC featuring a collection of orchid related accoutrements.
With life changes associated with her husband’s passing in 2003 and soon afterward that of her 97 year old mother who had been in her care for a dozen years, Barbara jumped head first into volunteering for a number of orchid projects. Her favorite was protecting a large colony of Cypripedium acaule located in the center of her city. During this time, she has served as Membership Secretary for the Slipper Orchid Alliance, chairing their Nominating Committee and currently serves as Second Vice President of the International Phalaenopsis Alliance, recently working on the Strategic Planning Committee and chairing the Nominating Committee. This path eventually led to becoming a part of the AOS Membership Committee at a time when many factors had resulted in a huge challenge to membership numbers. Her zeal for this work is fueled by the fact she feels that our AOS, formed in 1921 by dedicated folks who kept it going under many adverse conditions, is now ‘on our watch’ and we must do what is necessary to keep the passion of those early founders alive to serve the needs of current and future orchidists all over the world.