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Keynote Speakers

Abra Lee

We are thrilled to announce that Abra Lee will be the keynote speaker for the 2023 UC Master Gardener Conference. A compelling storyteller, an accomplished author, and an esteemed professional in the field of horticulture, Lee will undoubtedly offer an enlightening and engaging session for all attendees.

Presentation: "The Invincible Garden Ladies"

In her keynote address, Abra Lee invites us to journey back in time to the roaring twenties, as she vividly portrays the inspiring stories of pioneering women in horticulture. She will unfold the fascinating narrative of Blanche Hurston who kickstarted her Florida floral business amid the exhilarating era, and the tale of the formidable Mahalia Jackson, who ingeniously sold beautiful blooms. The riveting chronicles of these invincible women, who not only carved a path for themselves but also paved the way for many others, continue to inspire generations of plant lovers today. Don't miss this unique opportunity to learn from the past, grow in the present, and inspire for the future.

About Abra Lee

Abra Lee is much more than a passionate horticulturist. She is an author, a storyteller, and a fervent advocate for the untold stories of Black America's gardeners, farmers, and growers. With her forthcoming book, "Conquer The Soil", Lee aspires to illuminate these overlooked narratives that are deeply rooted in our country’s history.

Lee’s expertise has been cultivated through her professional journey, including her experiences as a municipal arborist and an airport landscape manager. Her works have been recognized and published in reputed publications such as The New York Times, Fine Gardening, and Veranda Magazine. Furthermore, she is a proud alumna of the prestigious Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals.

In January 2023, Abra Lee joined Oakland Cemetery, a distinguished garden cemetery and vibrant park situated in downtown Atlanta, as the Director of Horticulture. As a graduate of Auburn University College of Agriculture, Lee’s extensive knowledge and vast experiences make her a revered figure in the field of horticulture. Join us in welcoming Abra Lee to our event, and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the captivating world of horticulture.


Herman Fillmore

Presentation: “From Tradition to Tomorrow: Celebrating Wá∙šiw Culture”

The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California is a resilient and culturally rich Native American/Indigenous community with ancestral roots reaching across the region. The Wá∙šiw language and culture are deeply intertwined, forming the foundation of the Washoe Tribe’s identity and heritage. The language, rich with its unique expressions and linguistic nuances, serves as a vessel for passing down generations of traditional knowledge, stories, and values. Wá∙šiw culture encompasses a diverse range of practices, including art, music, spirituality, and communal traditions, all of which contribute to the preservation and celebration of their distinct way of life. We’re pleased to open the conference with a presentation that grounds us and grows our understanding of the past, present, and future stewardship of the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Wá∙šiw culture.

About Herman Fillmore

Herman Fillmore is the Culture/Language Resources Director for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. Herman spent his childhood attending Wá∙šiw Wagayay Máŋal (“the house where Washoe is spoke”) before attending the University of New Mexico. Herman studied Native American Studies with a concentration on language and education and a minor in Linguistics. 

Following his educational pursuits, Herman has spent the past 10 years teaching Wá∙šiw language and culture within his communities. Herman has profound respect for nature, storytelling, and artistic expression. In the face of challenges, Herman and the Washoe Tribe continue to honor their cultural legacy, weaving it into daily lives, ceremonies, and efforts to preserve identify for future generations. 

Missy Gable (host)

Missy Gable is an accomplished professional and the director of the UC Master Gardener Program, a position she has held for the past decade. Under her visionary leadership, the program has experienced remarkable growth, both in scale and impact. Missy has played a pivotal role in fostering strong partnerships at the local level, while also forging valuable alliances at the state and national levels. Her unwavering dedication to aligning with UC ANR goals has garnered recognition for the program's outstanding contributions from University, state, and federal partners. As the program's most passionate advocate, Missy is a treless communicator of the profound influence of the program and volunteers to mitigate and address some of California's greatest challenges. She considers herself incredibly fortunate to work alongside the exceptional personnel and volunteers who embrace the program's mission, making a positive difference in the lives of countless Californians.


Glenda Humiston

Dr. Glenda Humiston was appointed vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Aug. 3, 2015.

Humiston was born in California and raised on a cattle ranch in Colorado, where she was a member of 4-H. She came to UC ANR with more than 25 years of experience working on public policy development and program implementation supporting sustainability.

She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, as executive director of a nonprofit organization advocating farmland preservation and value-added agriculture development, and several years as a consultant on environmental and agricultural issues throughout the West.

She served President Clinton as deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment at USDA from 1998 to 2001. She managed the Sustainable Development Institute at the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa and the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico City. In 2009, Humiston was appointed by President Obama to serve as the California State Director at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development.

Humiston produced a widely acclaimed guidebook on “Access to Capital” and has led efforts to bring rural issues to the forefront of the state’s Economic Summit and policymakers throughout California.

Humiston earned her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management in 2009 with research focused on U.S. Farm Bill policy. She has a master’s degree in international agricultural development from UC Davis and a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Colorado State University.