Laura E. loves working as the Administrative Director of ArborVitae, as it beautifully combines her experience as a public health project manager with her passion for herbalism. She came to ArborVitae in 2015, after working on National Institutes of Health clinical addiction research trials in Boston and Russia for 8 years. After graduating from Boston University with a master’s degree in public health, she began exploring alternative approaches to healing and fell in love with yoga and herbalism. She is a certified yoga teacher, has completed apprenticeships at the Boston School of Herbal Studies and the Gaia School of Healing and Earth Education, and is excited to be continuing her herbalism studies at ArborVitae. She maintains a small yoga therapy and herbalism practice, spends as much time as possible in her community garden, and enjoys Jane Austen novels while drinking Earl Grey as “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”
Laura “Harmony” Palay – Finance Administrator
Laura P. (formerly Laura Smith) is responsible for the coordination and tracking of student and instructor payments. She has worked with ArborVitae since February of 2014, when the school was in its first year of operations. Laura graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a bachelor’s in English Language, Literature and Writing, minoring in Japanese Language and Culture. She is an animal lover, avid reader, and enjoys crocheting, sewing, drawing, and other creative projects. Laura hails from Michigan and works remotely from Madison, WI, where she lives with her partner, David, and their dog, Lazarus.
Shannon Van Loon – Finance Director
Shannon Van Loon is dedicated to the work and mission of ArborVitae and is one of the first members on the Board of the Tree of Life Guild. Shannon’s background and expertise is in strategic planning for organizations with a mission that serve or enhance our communities and world. She currently oversees all financial aspects of ArborVitae’s operations and helps ArborVitae to grow wisely and efficiently. Shannon has a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a masters’ degree in Administration, Policy and Social Planning from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She hails from Michigan and recently moved from Brooklyn to Hastings-on-Hudson, NY with her husband and their two active children.
Samuel Perry – Teaching Assistant
Sam runs a clinical herbalism practice from his office at the Radicle Herb Shop in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to clinical work, Sam leads a plant and mushroom walk series in Prospect Park in collaboration with Sacred Warrior. He also represents the medicinal herb farm RavenCrest Botanicals every Saturday at a farmer’s market in the Lower East Side’s Seward Park. He is a proud alumni of Arbor Vitae’s 3 year professional program and is thrilled to join the team as Teaching Assistant.
Claudia Keel – Founder and Director
Richard Mandelbaum RH is a clinical herbalist with a private practice in Brooklyn and in Sullivan County, NY. Richard has been practicing as an herbalist since 1997, with a background in both Chinese and Western herbal traditions. He is currently on the faculty at David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies in Washington, NJ and has been a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG) since 2003, and joined the AHG Council (board of directors) in October 2012. He is co-founder, co-director, and core faculty of ArborVitae. You can read more about him on our Faculty page.