Name:  Sarah Sawtelle, Manager of Engagement
Started at the COF: September 2019
Primary responsibilities: Mobilizing a team of interpretive volunteers, student program guides, and engagement staff in interpreting the Conservatory’s plant collection through engaging programs, tours, and conversations. Creating opportunities for all Conservatory visitors to connect with tropical plants and discover something amazing during their visit!
Favorite thing at the COF:  The color-changing blooms of the Victoria Water Lilies
Email: ssawtelle(at)sfcof.org


Name: Kristen Natoli, Chief Nursery Specialist
Started at the COF: September 2016
Primary responsibilities: Steward of our exceptional tropical plant collection and beautiful Victorian conservatory structure.
Education/certifications: B.S. from Cornell University with a focus in Plant Ecology.
Favorite thing at the COF:  Each gallery of the Conservatory has a unique character and story to tell. The collections they hold are a captivating way to engage visitors with the diverse, fragile and wondrous tropical ecosystems they represent.
Email: knatoli(at)sfcof.org

Name: Eric Imperiale, Nursery Specialist
Started at the COF: 2007
Primary responsibilities: Highland Tropics Gallery, Pleurothallid orchid collection, cool-growing orchids, special exhibits
Favorite thing at the COF: One of my favorite things about the Conservatory of Flowers is the way in which its aesthetic beauty seamlessly interconnects education and conservation, people and plants, and the past and present.
Email: eimperiale(at)sfcof.org

Name: Janet Spellmann, Nursery Specialist
Started at the COF: 2011
Primary responsibilities: Potted Plants Gallery, special exhibits, cultivate, pot and maintain the beautiful begonias, orchids and thousands of other plants in the Potted Plants Gallery.
Favorite thing at the COF: Like the hundreds of people who flock to the Conservatory every time it blooms, I particularly love the Amophophallus konjac (shown at left). The stench of the A. konjac’s inflorescence, while repugnant to humans, is a seductive lure for the beetles and flies that pollinate this beautiful plant.
Email: jspellmann(at)sfcof.org

Name: Mario Vega, Nursery Specialist
Started at the COF: 2007
Primary responsibilities: Lowland Gallery, lobby, special exhibits
Education/Certifications: City College of San Francisco
Favorite plant at the COF: Impatiens niamniamensis, also called “Parrot Impatiens” and “Congo Cockatoo”, was one of the first to catch my eye here at the Conservatory. The flower’s colors are bright and striking, reminiscent of a candy treat or a flock of parrots.
Email: mvega(at)sfcof.org


Name: Vanessa Fajardo, Director of Operations & Administration
Started at the COF: October 2010
Primary responsibilities: Managing and supporting the Guest Services team, purchasing locally sourced gift shop items, design and management of the gift shop
Favorite thing at the COF: I love coming into the Conservatory in the mornings when the rain function is on. It creates the most soothing sounds and smells in the city. There is no place in all of San Francisco more appealing to all five senses than the Conservatory of Flowers.
Email: vfajardo(at)sfcof.org

Drew 2022

Name: Drew Risner-Davis, Operations Manager
Started at the COF: 2016
Primary Responsibilities: Manage front of house operations including Guest Services, Plant Shop, and Gift Shop.
Favorite thing at the COF: The incredible stories plants can teach us about diversity and the interconnectedness of all things.
Email: drisnerdavis(at)sfcof.org


Whether you’re a native San Franciscan, a visitor from another side of the world, or a classroom of budding botanists, the Conservatory of Flowers offers an intimate up-close experience with rare and endangered plants unlike any other. Come see what treasures await you!

Golden Gate Park | 100 John F. Kennedy Drive | San Francisco, CA 94118 | 415-831-2090