meet our team

Our team is made up of dedicated professionals committed to delivering on the AmericanHort Mission.

AmericanHort Leadership Team

Ken Fisher

President &
Chief Executive Officer

AmericanHort Staff Member Craig Regelbrugge

Craig Regelbrugge

Executive Vice President
Advocacy, Research, & Industry Relations

AmericanHort Staff Member Mary Beth Cowardin

Mary Beth Cowardin

Vice President, Marketing & Member Engagement

Karen Limbert

Karen Limbert, CPA

Vice President, Operations & Finance

Ken Fisher

President & Chief Executive Officer

AmericanHort Staff Member Craig Regelbrugge

Craig Regelbrugge

Executive Vice President
Advocacy, Research, & Industry Relations

AmericanHort Staff Member Mary Beth Cowardin

Mary Beth Cowardin

Vice President, Marketing & Member Engagement

Karen Limbert

Karen Limbert, CPA

Vice President, Operations & Finance

Advocacy & Research

Works to represent the industry with policy makers, government officials, and partner organizations to ensure the green industry’s voice is represented in public policy, government affairs and industry research work. The team administers the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), AmericanHort’s research and education foundation.

AmericanHort Staff Member Craig Regelbrugge

Craig Regelbrugge

Executive Vice President
Advocacy, Research, & Industry Relations

Matt Mika

Vice President, Advocacy & Government Affairs

AmericanHort Staff Member Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray

Research Programs Administrator

Michael Martin Headshot

Michael Martin, Ph.D

Science, Research, & Regulatory Programs Director

AmericanHort Staff Member Craig Regelbrugge

Craig Regelbrugge

Executive Vice President
Advocacy, Research, & Industry Relations

Matt Mika

Vice President, Advocacy & Government Affairs

AmericanHort Staff Member Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray

Research Programs Administrator

Michael Martin Headshot

Michael Martin, Ph.D

Science, Research, & Regulatory Programs Director

Educational Programming

Collaborates with industry members, academics, and experts to provide high-quality educational programming that meets members’ needs across all industry segments.

Meagan Nace Staff Photo

Meagan Nace

Senior Manager, Education Program Development

Rachel Rawls

Rachel Rawls

Education Program
Manager

Amy Ballard - Education Program Specialist

Amy Ballard

Education Program
Specialist

Meagan Nace Staff Photo

Meagan Nace

Senior Manager, Education Program Development

Rachel Rawls

Rachel Rawls

Education Program
Manager

Amy Ballard - Education Program Specialist

Amy Ballard

Education Program
Specialist

Marketing & Member Engagement

Manages member communications, association and event marketing, Connect newsletters, social media, website, and more.

AmericanHort Staff Member Mary Beth Cowardin

Mary Beth Cowardin

Vice President, Marketing & Member Engagement

Celina Young

Celina Young

Marketing Communications Specialist

Nicolas Leas

Nicolas Leas

Digital Web Manager

Cindy Whitt

Marketing Communications Manager

AmericanHort Staff Member Mary Beth Cowardin

Mary Beth Cowardin

Vice President Membership & Strategic Engagement

Celina Young

Celina Young

Marketing Communications Specialist

Nicolas Leas

Nicolas Leas

Digital Web Manager

Cindy Whitt

Marketing Communications Manager

Events & Association Operations

Our Events team works with strategic business partners in managing Cultivate and other association events by handling booth sales, event planning, housing, and registration contracts, as well as managing and developing sponsorship relationships. Maintains our member database, financial reporting, budgeting, and accounting, as well as handles accounts receivable and accounts payable, and routine administrative tasks.

Karen Limbert

Karen Limbert, CPA

Vice President, Operations & Finance

Amanda Holton

Information
Specialist

AmericanHort Staff Member Carol Baker

Carol Baker

Office Administrator &
Executive Assistant

Karen Limbert

Karen Limbert, CPA

Vice President, Operations & Finance

Amanda Holton

Information Specialist

AmericanHort Staff Member Carol Baker

Carol Baker

Office Administrator & Executive Assistant

Cindy Lee

Cindy Lee

Exhibit & Sponsorship
Sales Manager

Bill Behrens

Trade Show &
Event Manager

Cindy Lee

Cindy Lee

Exhibit & Sponsorship
Sales Manager

Bill Behrens

Trade Show &
Event Manager

KEN FISHER

President & Chief Executive Officer

Prior to joining AmericanHort in May 2016 as AmericanHort President and CEO, Ken spent 20 years in senior management positions leading industrial and consumer products companies including Managing Director of a Lone Star Funds portfolio company, a leading private equity firm; President and CEO of Elmer’s Products, an international consumer products company; Vice President of Poet-Ethanol Products, LLC the largest marketer of ethanol in North America; Senior Vice President of The Coleman Company, a global outdoor consumer products company; and various senior leadership positions within Koch Industries, Inc., a large multinational corporation.

Ken holds an MBA from the W. Frank Barton School of Business and a BS in Chemistry from Wichita State University.

Phone: 614.487.1117
AmericanHort Staff Member Craig Regelbrugge

CRAIG J. REGELBRUGGE

Executive Vice President
Advocacy, Research, & Industry Relations

Craig Regelbrugge serves as senior vice president at AmericanHort, where he leads the staff team responsible for public policy, industry advocacy, and research programs. He serves in national leadership positions representing the horticulture industry on matters relating to the labor force, immigration reform, plant health and production, and trade. With over 30 years of service as an association professional representing horticulture, Craig is well-known in Washington and across the country, within the horticulture industry itself, and among policymakers and regulators. 

Craig received his undergraduate degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech, and he worked in the retail nursery industry and served as a county horticultural extension agent in Virginia before joining the American Nursery & Landscape Association in December 1989. 

He is a frequent presenter, author, and spokesperson on topics relating to the workforce and immigration, production, trade, and environmental issues impacting farmers and small businesses in and serving the horticulture industry. Craig is an avid traveler, naturalist, and gardener of vegetables, berries, and…oysters! 

Phone: 202.789.8111
AmericanHort Staff Member Mary Beth Cowardin

MARY BETH COWARDIN

Vice President, Marketing & Member Engagement

Mary Beth Cowardin leads the AmericanHort marketing and communications team to help build the organization’s brand, engage current members in the organization’s work and expand the association’s membership base.

The majority of Mary Beth’s professional career has been spent working in consumer brand marketing roles. With over 25 years of experience and a track record for growing leading brands, she knows the power of a brand and the importance of a brand fulfilling its promise to the consumer. Prior to joining AmericanHort Mary Beth was the executive director of a non-profit organization, LeadershipUA, whose mission is to identify, educate and inspire emerging leaders to become involved in their community. Mary Beth has experience as director of marketing for the Marzetti® brand of produce dressings, dips, croutons and other grocery products. She was also director of marketing at Elmer’s Products, Inc. where she led the marketing efforts for the flagship Elmer’s® stationery glue business, as well as lead marketing for the Krazy Glue® brand. She led efforts to resume both Elmer’s and Krazy Glue consumer advertising after more than a decade of the brand being in the dark. Experienced at working on seasonal business, Mary Beth started her consumer brand marketing career at S.C. Johnson & Sons, Inc. where she worked on the OFF!® brand of personal repellents and the fantastik® brand of all-purpose cleaners.

Mary Beth worked for nearly a decade with The Ohio Department of Agriculture where she served as chief of the Division of Markets, she led the team that promoted Ohio made food and agricultural products across the U.S. and worldwide through the OHIO PROUD® grassroots marketing program and various international trade services.

Mary Beth is a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University holding both a Bachelor of Arts in French and finance, and an MBA in marketing and international business. Mary Beth is an avid sports enthusiast, she plays tennis and cycles. She is co-chair of a grassroots peloton, Girls with Gears, that has raised over $1.3MM to fund cancer research during their thirteen seasons participating in Pelotonia, a local cycling event. She lives in Columbus with her husband Gregg and their pups, Klio and Luna. She’s a proud stepmom of 3 adult children.

Phone: 614.884.1138
Karen Limbert

KAREN LIMBERT, CPA

Vice President, Operations & Finance

Karen Limbert is vice president and controller for AmericanHort, joining the team in 2016. Her main duties are financial reporting, budgeting, accounting, HR activities, and IT. Karen loves solving problems and helping others do the same. She has a knack for improving and streamlining processes and is a self-proclaimed Excel geek—she knows her way around a spreadsheet!

Prior to coming to AmericanHort Karen held controller and treasurer rolls for more than 10 years with financial services firms working in the areas of insurance, retirement planning, and collections, as well as for nonprofit organizations. Karen enjoys working in such a beautiful industry and enjoys interacting with our members. Karen holds her MBA and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of Dayton and is a Dayton Flyers fan.

A native of Columbus, Karen lives in Hilliard with her husband Andy and three sons, Charlie, Max, and Ollie. She spends a lot of time at her boys’ school attending sporting events and boy scout activities. She and her family love to swim, boat, fish, catch and release toads and anything else that gets the crew outside and dirty.

Phone: 614.884.1151
Matt Mika

Matt Mika

Vice President, Advocacy & Government Affairs
Matt Mika is the Vice President of Advocacy & Government Affairs at AmericanHort. Matt leads the Advocacy team in public policy and industry advocacy and has over 25 years of experience working in policy and politics at the federal, state, and local levels.
Prior to joining AmericanHort, Matt served as the Director of Government Relations for Tyson Foods, Inc. in Washington, D.C. During his 12-year tenure with Tyson Foods he worked on issues before the House and Senate Agriculture and Appropriations Committees, along with focusing on House specific issues regarding agriculture, transportation, environment, energy, and ethanol matters.
Matt’s prior work includes working for the American Meat Institute, now the North American Meat Institute. He also worked for three Members of the Michigan Delegation, Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI-07), Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI-04), and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI-07). Mika spent five years working in the Michigan state legislature for former Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus and former State Representative David Palsrok (110th). Additionally, Matt ran several successful state representatives, statewide, and congressional campaigns and worked on the advance team for President George W. Bush.
A Mississippi native who was raised north of Detroit, MI, Matt Mika has lived in Washington, DC, since 2004. Matt holds his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Political Science/Pre-Law minor from Adrian College, where he also played football and baseball. An avid sports fan Matt participates in many sports including baseball, softball, golf, hockey, basketball, and others. Matt serves as commissioner of The United States House Softball League (USHSL). He is the head volunteer coach for the Republican team for the annual bipartisan Congressional Baseball Game. Matt is one of five survivors who was shot at a Congressional Baseball practice in 2017. He is also the Director and President of Washington, D.C. Chapter of the SBLA (Sports Business and Leadership Association).
Phone: 202-789-8113
AmericanHort Staff Member Jennifer Gray

JENNIFER GRAY

Research Programs Administrator

Jennifer Gray leads all organizational activities of the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), AmericanHort’s research and scholarship foundation, as research programs administrator. In this role, she assesses and manages the research needs and provides strategic leadership to HRI and AmericanHort for HRI’s multi-faceted research program. In addition to leading the HRI Board of Trustees, Jennifer oversees communication, outreach, and fundraising activities for HRI.

Prior to joining AmericanHort in 2013, Jennifer worked for the Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association in multiple management roles, including Executive Director. She is passionate about horticulture and thrives on helping the industry grow.

In addition to her HRI duties, Jennifer serves as the liaison to the AmericanHort nursery community connectors, where she assists in building programs and connections for nursery growers. As part of the Industry Advocacy & Research Team, she works with AmericanHort Lighthouse Program Partners. Jennifer also leads AmericanHort’s efforts to beautify Cultivate through the planning and creation of display gardens.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Jennifer graduated from Otterbein University with a degree in English and is an award-winning magazine designer and publisher and an internationally published author. Jennifer and her family enjoy a busy life based in Central Ohio.

Phone: 614.884.1155

Michael Martin Headshot

MICHAEL MARTIN, Ph.D

Science, Research, &
Regulatory Programs Director

Michael received his Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and a Master’s of Agricultural Education from Clemson University. He received his Doctorate in Horticulture from the University of Georgia. He has owned a native plant nursery, worked as a horticultural laboratory technician, and most recently worked in horticultural lighting sales and consulting.  

He has led numerous seminars and workshops on topics related to native plants in the landscape, native plant production, and plant propagation. Michael is a native plant enthusiast, with a deep-seated love for all things Amsonia. He and his wife Renee live in Athens, GA. 

Phone: 202.789.0683

Meagan Nace Staff Photo

MEAGAN NACE

Senior Manager, Education Program Development

Meagan Nace joined the AmericanHort education team in 2017 after 10+ years of working in horticulture research as a biologist at Scotts Miracle Gro where she collaborated with cross-functional teams in developing new products and innovative solutions for consumers for the Miracle-Gro® and Ortho® brands.

At AmericanHort, Meagan works to find creative and innovative solutions to delivering industry best practices through educational programming. She is responsible for the program development, implementation, and evaluation of educational programs and activities that meet the identified needs of members. This also includes building relationships with association members, managed partners, industry media, various vendors, member communities, volunteers, speakers and other event guests, industry research and academic communities and related organizations. She works closely with our exhibits and sponsorship sales team to develop business opportunities for both AmericanHort and sponsor companies. Meagan also serves a staff liaison with the Interior Plantscape and Garden Retail Community Connector groups.

Meagan graduated with a bachelor’s in science degree in Agricultural Education from the Ohio State University. She resides 45 minutes north-west of Columbus with her husband and four children on her family’s third generation farm. In her spare time, you can find her chasing children, horses, and dogs, gardening, baling hay, and giving rides to and from the fields.P

Phone: 614.884.1140

Rachel Rawls

RACHEL RAWLS

Education Program Manager

Rachel joined the AmericanHort team as education program manager in December 2021. A Georgia native, she has her Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and her Master’s of Agricultural Leadership from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining AmericanHort, Rachel worked for seven years in Extension. First, she served as a County Extension Coordinator & Agent for the University of Georgia before joining the Purdue University Extension team as an Extension Educator and County Extension Director. In these roles she provided leadership in determining, implementing, and evaluating educational programs designed to solve social, economic, and environmental problems in agriculture and natural resources. She worked closely with producers, agri-businesses, and community leaders to assess the needs and prioritize issues and problems and opportunities in rural and urban areas. One of her favorite parts of her extension job was working with new and existing Master Gardener Association members. These skills will serve her well on the AmericanHort team as she helps manage Cultivate education and other programming to serve the horticulture industry.

Rachel currently resides in South Bend, IN. In her free time, she enjoys exploring botanical gardens, cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs, baking, and taking neighborhood walks with her husband and dog. She also volunteers for a local food rescue organization and the local 4-H program.

Phone: 614.884.1141

Amy Ballard - Education Program Specialist

Amy Ballard

Education Program Specialist

Amy Ballard joins the AmericanHort team as an education program specialist, working to strengthen educational offerings. Amy graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Master of Science degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where she studied the effects of season extension technologies on organically produced strawberries.

From an early age, Amy has had an interest in horticulture and enjoys being able to share the joys it brings with others. She has been a part of many facets in the world of horticulture during her industry tenure. She taught high school science and was an environmental educator for Haw River State Park.  Her graduate research focused on small fruits and specialty crops in North Carolina. She also spent time tracking invasive insects when working for USDA/APHIS-PPQ in Puerto Rico. Amy has worked with nursery, greenhouse growers, landscapers, and farmers to help grow their businesses while she was an Extension Agent for Commercial and Consumer Horticulture at NC State University. Most recently, she has worked as a fine gardener in Massachusetts before joining the AmericanHort team.

Amy enjoys walking with her dog, kayaking, or searching the woods for mushrooms. Amy also likes traveling to new places, finding local coffee shops and any place that serves delicious food.

Phone: 614-884-1142
Celina Young

CELINA YOUNG

Marketing Communications Specialist

Celina Young has been a Marketing Communications Specialist with AmericanHort since May 2019. Her primarily responsibilities include planning and executing marketing and communications materials for Cultivate, as well as other events like the Retail Tour. Celina also manages AmericanHort’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, in addition to overseeing the association’s trade media agreements and editorial calendar.

An Iowa native, Celina grew up in agriculture, participating in 4-H and FFA, as well as working on two local dairy farms. This passion led her to Iowa State University, where she graduated in 2017 with a double major in Agricultural Business and Public Service & Administration in Agriculture. Celina is a proud member of several regional and national organizations, including the Ohio Farm Bureau, Agriculture Future of America Alliance, National Agri-Marketing Association, and Iowa State University Curtiss League.

In her spare time, Celina enjoys traveling, photography, working outside with her plants, reading, and game nights with friends.

Phone: 614.884.1209

Nicolas Leas

NICOLAS LEAS

Digital Web Manager

Nick Leas is the digital web manager for AmericanHort, joining the team in late 2019. He is responsible for the development and maintenance work on all the AmericanHort digital web assets and ensuring the information our members need is easy to find online. Prior to joining AmericanHort, Nick worked in several roles building his web development, web design, user interface and experience knowledge, as well as managing online content and promotions, all allowing him to be successful in digitally marketing small businesses. Working at iHeart Radio, Locallogy, and USA Booster Shop have all shaped Nick’s entrepreneurial spirit by working in a variety of industries and with different business owners; it also influenced his desire to do meaningful work with a team that has like-minded goals.

Nick was born in Belgium and lived in Switzerland for more than a decade before his family moved to Dublin, OH in 1996. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in International Relations/Diplomacy and French. Nick is an avid CrossFit athlete, and a bourbon connoisseur. He and his fiancé Ashley are the be married in May 2021 and are proud foster parents of two dogs through the local Pilot Dog program that raises seeing eye dogs for the blind, with the first puppy they raised, Oliver, now part of the Columbus Police therapy dog unit.

Phone: 614.884.1139

Cindy Whitt-noborder

Cindy Whitt

Marketing Communications Manager

Cindy Whitt is the Marketing Communications Manager for AmericanHort. She joined the AmericanHort in June 2023 and brings more than a decade of association experience. She was the Director of Marketing and Communications for the North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association, overseeing member communications, event marketing, public relations, and sales.

Cindy’s responsibilities include developing member content for newsletters and other communications. She manages educational programming marketing and communications, membership marketing and more.
Her work experience also includes serving as a senior account executive for a public relations firm serving global agribusinesses, where she focused on corporate communications and product marketing. Cindy most recently worked as a freelance content writer, with articles published by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, Modern Farmer, and Farm Flavor Media.
Cindy graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in Communication with a focus on Public Relations. She has lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, for 15 years. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the area with her long-term partner and dog, going to concerts, and reading.
Amanda Holton

AMANDA HOLTON

Information Specialist

Amanda Holton joined AmericanHort in 2017 as our information specialist. Her duties include database maintenance, event registration, customer service, membership reporting and helping with membership onboarding and renewal processes, as well as various other administrative tasks. She is affectionately known as “The Queen of our YM database and excel guru”. Amanda enjoys all aspects of her job, particularly time spent mining data for information that helps us better serve our membership. She likes learning about our industry and getting to know our members better.

A native of Grandview Heights, OH, Amanda has her Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education and a minor in psychology from Muskingum University. Prior to joining our team, she was assistant director for the Goddard School of Reynoldsburg, a leader in the childcare franchise segment. Sparked by her love for sewing and crafting, she once worked at Joann’s, and she is a master of the Cricut®, the popular computer-controlled cutting machine for home crafters. When she is not cooking in her Instant Pot®, or playing with her three cats, Peanut, Buzz, and Kimchi, you might find Amanda and her daughter Emma camping in their pop-up camper in a state park in Ohio or Michigan.

Phone: 614.884.1153

AmericanHort Staff Member Carol Baker

CAROL BAKER

Office Administrator & Executive Assistant

Carol Baker is the office administrator and executive assistant for AmericanHort and likely one of the friendly voices you hear when you call our office. She started with the organization when it was the Ohio Florist Association (OFA) and has been part of the team for more than a decade. She manages the administrative office at Cultivate and enjoys interacting with our industry members. Carol has held previous administration and finance roles in a variety of businesses including legal services, construction, and manufacturing sectors. She grew up in rural northeast Ohio and moved to Columbus after high school. She enjoys growing indoor plants, traveling, ballroom dancing and pet sitting. Carol’s biggest thrill has been to be part of a formula 4 racing pit crew and riding an aerobatic plane and sky diving.

Phone: 614.884.1203

Cindy Lee

Cindy Lee

Exhibit & Sponsorship Sales Manager

Cindy joined AmericanHort in June 2021 as Exhibit & Sponsorship Sales Manager. In her role, Cindy is responsible for trade show exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities at AmericanHort events. She works with other team members on planning, event logistics, project execution and post show activities. She enjoys developing new relationships and maintaining those connections to build strong partnerships that grow and prosper. She truly enjoys working with our members and exhibitors to help them succeed in their businesses.

Prior to joining AmericanHort, Cindy had extensive experience working with other associations in membership, trade shows, event planning, and sponsorship development. Cindy grew up on Long Island, NY but always loved visiting her grandparents in Ohio, which led her to attend Ohio University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations.

Cindy enjoys all things outdoor including walking her dog, Willow, along the Scioto River and spending time with her daughter, Lula.

Phone: 614.884.1145
Cultivate ’22 photographed Saturday, July 16, 2022 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. (© James D. DeCamp | http://JamesDeCamp.com | 614-367-6366)

BILL BEHRENS

CMP, DES, CTA

Trade Show & Event Manager

A native of northern Illinois, Bill received his degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management from the University of Houston. He spent his early career working for Hyatt Hotels Corporation managing key hotel functions such as housekeeping and front desk operations. Bill joins AmericanHort having worked for more than twenty years for Experience Columbus, the Columbus Visitor and Convention Bureau, where he led the convention services team. Bill knows Cultivate well having served as our key contact for Cultivate where he managed the Cultivate custom welcome programs for years. He looks forward to working with exhibitors and sponsors in ensuring a successful Cultivate event. Bill enjoys cooking, traveling, and gardening. 

Phone: 614.884.1143