ABS Board of Directors & Officers

Organizational Structure

American Bonsai Society’s organizational structure consists of a board of directors, president, officers, executive secretary and journal editor. We do not have a headquarters or an office. The Board of Directors (up to 25 in number) oversees the strategic direction and goals for the organization. The President is responsible for implementing the board’s directions as well as overseeing the operations of officers and the executive secretary.

Our Officers are responsible for keeping the organization moving forward. Their duties include developing educational programs, guiding the efforts of the annual symposium coordinator, recruiting members, recording the organization’s business meetings, tracking and finding finances.

The Executive Secretary is responsible for the day to day tasks needed to keep the organization operating smoothly. This includes central registration processing and maintaining the list of members, responding to business inquiries, etc.

The ABS Journal Editor is responsible for layout, content, and timely publishing of the Bonsai: Journal of the American Bonsai Society, which is the most visible part of the ABS organization.

 

ABS Board of Directors

President – Karen Harkaway

Dr Karen Harkaway, a practicing dermatologist, began her bonsai journey about 15 years ago, when she began studying with Chase Rosade. Since then, she has also studied with Colin Lewis, Ryan Neil, Mauro Stemberger, and Hugo Zamora Luna, among others. Karen served as Vice President of the American Bonsai Society from 2010 until 2014, and again from 2018-2022. She was President from 2014-2018, and as of January 2023, she again serves as President. An enthusiastic student of bonsai, she has exhibited in all US National Bonsai Exhibitions except the first. Karen has won the President’s Award at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Bonsai Societies Festival, and both the Executive Committee’s Award and the People’s Choice Award at the same convention in 2013. She was also honored to win the John Naka Award, hobbyist division, in 2013. In 2018, she won the Travel Award for best tree/companion display, at the Sixth US National Bonsai Exhibition. Karen is passionate about all things bonsai and greatly enjoys being an ambassador for the promotion of our art form.

Vice-President – Rob Hoffman

I am a trade carpenter and work on large commercial buildings for over 20 years. I have practiced bonsai over ten years and I am the owner of Yume-en bonsai nursery where I grow and maintain trees and teach workshops. I live in the Columbus Ohio area with my wife, Niki and our two dogs.

Treasurer – Joe Graviss

Joe Graviss is a retired Certified Public Accountant, businessman, civic entrepreneur, and state legislator. He and his wife live on a small farm in Kentucky.

Secretary- Scott Barboza

Dr. Scott Barboza was introduced to bonsai by a close friend while living in California in 1990. Bonsai neatly married his passion for hiking and the outdoors with his love of gardening and a longtime fascination was born. He took introductory classes through the Sacramento Bonsai Society, but his serious study began in Seattle where, as a member of the Puget Sound Bonsai Association, he took workshops at Elandan Garden and Weyerhaeuser‘s Pacific Rim Bonsai Exhibit. After moving to Houston in the late 1990s, Scott became a member of the Houston Bonsai Society and began studying with Boonyarat Manakitivipart with whom he has worked for many years. Scott held many positions in Houston, including Vice President. He has lectured extensively, taught numerous classes and workshops, and helped to organize several conventions and exhibitions.

Scott’s trees have won numerous awards at local, state, and regional competitions and he has exhibited trees at the Bay Island Bonsai Exhibition in San Francisco and the US National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester. He is currently building his home and garden in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

Director – Mike Bentley

My bonsai bias leans more towards the naturalistic presentation of bonsai design, but my primary passion with bonsai is the science. As an engineer; I feel that I take a technical approach when working with trees. However, I look forward to exploring the more artistic side of
the practice as well.

Director – Joe Chirco

For over thirty years Joe has had bonsai trees; but for all that time, he felt he just had them. Bonsai were things of beauty, but he had little understanding of how to care them. Four years ago, he decided to dig deeper- first joining his local club, and then began traveling to various bonsai events. What he found along the way was an amazing community of people.

Currently, Joe serves as vice-president of the West Michigan Bonsai Club; helping to promote the club, put on workshops and organize events.

Director – Ross Clark

When he was 10, Ross Clark used money from his first paper route to buy his first tree book, so he could identify trees as he walked to school. Eventually, he went on to earn his PhD in the subject. His specialities are Temperate woody plant classification and ecology. He taught in college and at an arboretum for more than 40 years and still volunteers in a botanical museum. He loves learning and helping others learn, and has won several awards for outstanding teaching. He was a charter member of Prairie State Bonsai Society, and has written a book on the use of native plants for bonsai. Other minutiae is at LinkedIn.

Director – David Cutchin
Director – Kevin Faris

Kevin Faris is a Bonsai Practitioner from Portland Oregon, but he is living in Columbus Ohio with his wife while he studies Horticulture at The Ohio State University. He has been practicing the art of Bonsai with a great passion and has studied with many. He is a member of the Bonsai Society of Portland, Rocky Mountain Bonsai society, Columbus Bonsai Society and American Bonsai Society. He is on the board and holds the position of Director of Membership with the Columbus Bonsai Society and is one of the founding members and first president of the Bonsai Club at The Ohio State University.


His personal connection to bonsai dates to when he was a child growing up and living in Oregon for most of his life and spending time in nature among the trees of the Pacific Northwest. He first saw Bonsai when he was 7 years old in his hometown of Tualatin, OR and was instantly fascinated with these trees in miniature.


What Kevin wants to achieve with bonsai is to spread the community engagement that creates lifelong friendships and an understanding and love of nature and the horticultural concepts and practices that are needed to teach and create a better understanding overall for the overall community.

Director – Jeng Fonseca

Jeng Fonseca was born and raised in Chicago by her immigrant parents. She always had an interest in the arts and became a graffiti artist at the age of 17, which is when she met her husband Jose. Together they created a hip hop magazine, Klip Art Magazine. The magazine later evolved into their photo/video company, Klip Art Studio.

Jeng received her degrees in Culinary Arts and Food Science and worked in the industry for over 13 years. She is currently the owner and operator of Greens To Go LLC.

She is supportive of her husband who has been into bonsai since 2016, and she too delved down the bonsai rabbit hole just recently after attending Nationals in 2021. Jeng has attended workshops, demos, learned through several bonsai members and continues to work on her craft. She is an active member of the Ikebana International Chicago Chapter, board member of the Midwest Bonsai Society and recently the American Bonsai Society. Jeng is a proud mother of 3 and soon to be grandmother.

Director – Jose Fonseca
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Based in the heart of the Midwest, Jose is a tech enthusiast who finds inspiration in his bonsai garden. By day, he navigates the intricacies of the digital realm, bringing creativity to life through coding. When the screen fades, his hands get to work—whether it’s woodworking projects or nurturing his beloved bonsai collection.

Director – Mark Leonberger

Mark Leonberger began his bonsai journey in 1969 at the age of 13 while working with Max Mendal at his nursery in Indianapolis, IN. Over Mark’s work career he traveled to Japan multiple times, keeping his interest in bonsai and its artful history in his mind. After a work transfer taking him to Evansville, IN, Mark met and became friends with Dave & Barb Bogan of Bogan’s Bonsai. This nearby contact and supplier increased Mark’s love of the little trees. With family grown and retirement around the corner Mark renewed his Bonsai love and acquired a large collection of trees. He has since traveled to multiple seminars and met some wonderful Bonsai masters. Mark has been an ABS member since 2013 and became the ABS bookstore keeper in 2017.

Director – Arthur (Pete) Parker

Pete’s interest in bonsai began while he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. On a day trip to the Milwaukee Botanic Gardens he encountered a small bonsai show being put on two members of the Badger Bonsai Society and was immediately hooked. He was a member of the Badger Bonsai Society for the rest of his time in Madison and in his early years in Houston. After some mid-career interference, he returned to bonsai in the late 1990’s.

Pete is a graduate of Pedro Morales’ Futago Tropical Bonsai School as well as Boon Manakitivipart’s Intensives program. Pete continues to study with Boon and is currently a student in Bjorn Bjorholm’s Intensives program. He has exhibited his trees in the Bay Island Bonsai show, local shows, the Lone Star exhibits and at the National Exhibition. Pete has served on the Houston Bonsai Society board of directors for over 20 years serving in a variety of roles including 4 years as President. He has also represented Houston on the Lone Star Bonsai Federation board for 12+ years in a variety of roles including serving as the LSBF President.

As a member of the Houston Advanced Study Group, Pete was one of the originators of the standard for measuring shohin bonsai in Texas, “If it’s shorter than a Shiner longneck it’s a shohin.”

Erik Ridgeway

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Eric Ridgeway is a co-owner of Issho-en Bonsai. He started working with Daniel Robinson in 2007 and spent five years at Elandan practicing bonsai. He loves collected native species and is devoted to enhancing and adding deadwood features to his trees. Eric teaches as a team with Victrinia at every opportunity, as they both have a passion for teaching. Eric loves trees with wild, gnarly movement, and his work is anything but sedate. Eric’s love of shitaskusa and kusamono is deeply tied to his love of formal display.

Victrina Ridgeway

Victrina

Victrinia Ridgeway is a co-owner of Issho-en Bonsai. She started working with Daniel Robinson in 2006 and contributed to the creation of his biography, Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees. Victrinia’s style is a blend of naturalistic and traditional bonsai. When teaching with Eric, this can be a great asset, as the conversations and considerations of divergent points of view make for a very dynamic learning experience. Victrinia has also studied kusamono with Young Choe and has assisted her at events and workshops.

Director – John Ruth

John thinks that his interest in bonsai was germinated by seeing the collection at Longwood Gardens outside of Philadelphia. He soon realized that there was no place to walk through the house without stepping on his “trees”. An early goal was to recreate the trees from his backyard. Years later, he has a pretty nice sweet gum. He has never seen a tupelo bonsai, and he has been threatened with legal acton should he ever set his hands on another cryptomeria.


He now has mostly native species, with some traditional material and a few tropicals. He enjoys interacting with, and learning from, the bonsai community. He is an otolaryngologist and triathlete.

Director – Walter Scott
Walter Scott

Happily marrried, I enjoy bonsai, pickleball (Cliché) and writing. After moving to Philadelphia in 2001, I studied with Chase Rosade in New Hope, PA. I have exhibited trees at the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Mid-Atlantic Bonsai Society Festival, and at the US National Show in Rochester, NY. I have contributed articles to both the ABS Journal and
the Newsletter as an Associate Editor. Pennsylvania

Director – Howard Smith

In bonsai for 32 years, co-owner and operator of BonsaiSmiths, 1st graduating student of Boon Manakitivipart, and curator of The Bonsai Collection at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens opening in 2025.

Director – Sylvia Smith

In bonsai for 30 years, co-owner and operator of BonsaiSmiths, 2nd graduating student of Boon Manakitivipart, and curator of The Bonsai Collection at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens opening in 2025.0

Membership Chair – Larry Benjamin

While I still consider myself somewhat of a beginner learning the art of bonsai, my interest in living things goes back to my childhood growing up at the edge of a little Indiana town. There, I often took walks out to explore the fields, streams and woods in the area. This probably led to my interest in insects which
I pursued in 4-H, leading to the state championship in entomology.

Perhaps it was that experience that caused me to change my major at Purdue from chemistry to biology. As a teacher of biology and chemistry for 37 years, I got an opportunity not only to plan ahead (lesson plans !) but to get along with a wide variety of personalities – very helpful as membership manager.

Newsletter Editor – Susan Daufeldt

Susan Daufeldt grew up on a horse farm in Iowa. She is a self-taught naturalist and horticulturalist with an academic background in sculpture and metal working. She is a retired business attorney. Susan fell into bonsai by accident in the spring of 2014 and immediately began collecting and dreaming of bonsai developed from native Iowa material. She is a member of the Iowa Bonsai Association and the Newsletter Editor for the Iowa Bonsai Association and the Eastern Iowa Bonsai Association. She is deeply grateful for years of Gary Wood’s patient instruction in the Art and the support and instruction gained through the Iowa and Eastern Iowa Bonsai Associations.

Webmaster – Daniel White

Daniel’s first job was at a garden center and despite trying different careers, kept getting drawn back to the horticulture industry. Daniel has been with Willoway Nurseries, a wholesale grower in Ohio, since 1999 and is currently their IT Manager. He has been building websites since 1998 and brought that technical experience to multiple bonsai clubs, including the Cleveland Bonsai Club and Columbus Bonsai Society. 

Like many, Daniel became interested in bonsai from watching the 1984 The Karate Kid movie but didn’t seriously pursue it until 2017 and founded Black River Bonsai in 2019. 

Certified as a grower through the Ohio Certified Nursery Technician program, Daniel has a singular focus on plant and soil health; prefering more naturalistic tree designs that reflect natural struggles while supporting tree health. Daniel founded Black River Bonsai in 2019.

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