Sandra Tillisch Svoboda
Growing up in Minnesota, Sandra's only exposure to orchids was that prom corsage. After graduating with a degree in nursing, she moved to California and ended up in Santa Barbara. She worked in many fields of nursing including the hospital, office, school, Head Start program, gastroenterology laboratory, and finally, for the past twenty years as a senior research analyst doing health care policy research for the government and foundations.
She started her orchid life as a pot washer for her husband Al and became fascinated with the history of her husband's complex paph collection which included many of the oldies like Paph. F.C. Puddle. Al's knowledge, love, and enthusiasm for orchids were contagious and when they built a second greenhouse, she decided it would be hers and that was the moment that orchids became an important part of her life.
Sandra has served six terms on the board of trustees and two terms as vice president of the American Orchid Society. She has been chair of the Outreach, Publications, Education and Website Committees. She coordinates the Question and Answer column in ORCHIDS magazine. Sandra is an accredited judge in both the American Orchid Society and the Cymbidium Society of America judging systems and is treasurer of the AOS Pacific South Judging Center. She is the present Editor in Chief of the Orchid Digest. She was president of the Cymbidium Society of American and co-chair of the annual Cymbidium Society Congress. Locally, she has served on the boards and been president of the Orchid Society of Santa Barbara and the local branch of the Cymbidium Society. Sandra served on the board of the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show and, for several years, was the show manager of this prestigious show—one of the largest in the nation.
Besides the plants themselves and the never-ending opportunity to learn about them, Sandra loves being involved in the orchid world because it offers an opportunity to meet and work with so many amazing and fascinating people.
"With the move to Fairchild Gardens, we are at a very exciting and challenging moment in our history as an organization. We have the opportunity to focus on our mission of education and supporting conservation and research. We must keep our societies and journals relevant. We must embrace new technology that will enhance the way that we share information and educate people. Things are changing rapidly, and we need to adapt to these changes. I look forward to being part of the process that will move our organization forward and meet the needs of the AOS membership."