Each month we spotlight a volunteer, staff member, docent, donor, or sponsor of the Virginia Robinson Gardens (VRG) -- those that have made an impact on the organization. We want to let you know about these wonderful people and corporations that give so much to the Virginia Robinson Gardens and to the community, and what they do that is so impactful.
This month, we spotlight Ann Petersen, a wonderful and dedicated longtime Friends of Robinson Gardens Member and a generous Angel Member!!
We asked her these three questions:
1. How did you first learn about VRG, and what inspired you to become a Friend?
I first learned about VRG through Laura Alpert, a longtime member of VRG, who told me that I should look into the Gardens as I would love the beauty of the place and the ladies who supported it. I took her advice, and she was so right. Thank you, Laura!!
2. What’s your role -- how do you contribute to VRG?
After the membership luncheon, Leslie Kavanaugh talked me into becoming the Treasurer. I accepted and thus began my journey as a Board Member. I immediately met Evelyn Carlson, and we became co-Treasurers. I am of Danish descent, and Evie is of Swedish descent, and we were born 20 miles apart and 6 days apart in Illinois, so we became and remain fast friends. We continued for four years as co-Treasurers, and we did such wonderful things together. We hired Grace Breuer as our bookkeeper/CPA. We changed the payroll company and hired a new accounting firm to do our year-end tax returns. I have been involved since I was 21 as a Director of my father’s family foundation, the Esper A. Petersen Foundation. I have sat on many boards, but what I love most about VRG is the hands-on experience that you can have here if you are willing to get involved. This experience is very rare in most 501c3 organizations.
Over my years with Robinson Gardens, I did the following:
- Co-chaired the 2012 Patron Gala, Fiesta de las Flores, with Jeanne Anderson
- Arranged a tour of Tipi Hedren’s wildlife preserve, Shambala
- Created the Donor Tree with Superintendent Tim Lindsay
- Underwrote and arranged Opera on the Great Lawn
- Underwrote the Corporate Sponsorship Marketing Presentation for soliciting corporate underwriting
- Underwrote and arranged for Jerry Berens to restore Virginia’s 1911 Chickering piano
- Most fun of all, I am always a cashier at any events that we put on!
3. Can you share a favorite VRG memory with us?
My best memory was arranging for the Opera on the Great Lawn in 2017. I am a serious supporter of the Opera in Los Angeles, and I wanted to bring opera to our beautiful venue on an afternoon, sitting outdoors on the lawn. I worked with Lisa Sutton, who is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, to create what I feel was such a memorable afternoon as I insisted that we hear the most beloved arias that everyone would relate to. The performance was followed by a lovely dinner. All in all, I thought it was a delightful event, and I was so happy to share my love of opera with the Friends.