Our Team

ArborVitae’s administrators come from a variety of backgrounds, each using their unique skill sets to ensure ArborVitae provides the highest quality education and training in herbalism.

Diana Isidoro – Director & Administrative
Diana Isidoro – Director & Administrative

Diana Isidoro graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition Science at Brooklyn College. She quickly learned that her true passion lied with holistic healing and herbalism and she began to soak up knowledge from workshops throughout the city ultimately landing her at ArborVitae. She initially fell in love with the energy of ArborVitae as a student attending our Community Classes and is excited and humbled to take on the role of Administrative Director.

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Claudia Keel
Claudia Keel

A clinical herbalist and flower essence therapist with an additional specialty in food and nutrition therapy. She has had a private practice in Union Square of Manhattan, NY since 1999. From 2001 till 2015, Claudia has served as the Weston A Price Foundation NYC Chapter Leader, providing community education and resources for nutrition and traditional foods. Claudia also teaches regularly about herbs, flower essences and traditional foods in practitioner study groups, workshops and conferences.

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Richard Mandelbaum
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 in October 2012. He is co-founder, co-director, of ArborVitae.

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Sam Perry
Sam Perry

Samuel Perry RH (AHG) is a clinical herbalist, medicine maker and herbal educator in Upstate New York. Practicing in the Vitalist and eclectic tradition of American Herbalism, Sam offers compassionate attention and support in all manner of health concerns. An core teacher at Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Herbalism, Sam teaches herbal energetics and Materia Medica, helps supervise the 3rd year clinic, leads plant walks, and offers medicine making demonstrations.

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Dana Perry - Teaching Assistant
Dana Perry - Teaching Assistant

Born in rural north Idaho, where she spent her childhood building homes for resident fairies, Brooklyn-based Dana Perry now spends most of her days gallivanting around Prospect Park with her daughter (who loves to wave at “baby mugwort” along the trails). She is a 2018 ArborVitae Alum, helped found Herbal Underground, and holds an MA in sociology from The New School.

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Amber Merkens
Amber Merkens

Amber Merkens is a clinical herbalist in private practice in Brooklyn and New Paltz, NY. Her background in dance, birth arts, and postpartum care continually inform her work on the plant path, and vice versa. She is a graduate of ArborVitae, and is thrilled to help grow the school's mission, educational vision, and commitment to community service as Clinic Director.

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April Matney - Financial Administrator
April Matney - Financial Administrator

April Matney is responsible for many of ArborVitae’s financial tasks such as managing student payments and ongoing Accounting. She has a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Parks, & Leisure Services Administration from Central Michigan University and has spent many years working with nonprofits and consulting for small business owners. April is a proud Michigan native but is currently living and working remotely from Louisville, KY with her husband and two rambunctious boys.

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Shannon Van Loon - Finance Director
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

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Michele Marlow - Tech Support Specialist
Michele Marlow - Tech Support Specialist

Michele is a clinical herbalist based in Oklahoma who holds two bachelor’s degrees; in Public Health and in Complementary and Alternative Health. She teaches herbalism classes and volunteers for various special needs support groups and charities in her community. Her favorite hobbies include collecting herb books for her bookshelves, collecting bookshelves for her herb books, collecting mason jars for her herbs, and collecting plants for her garden.

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Past Team Members

ArborVitae’s administrators come from a variety of backgrounds, each using their unique skill sets to ensure ArborVitae provides the highest quality education and training in herbalism.

Laura “Harmony” Palay – Past Finance Administrator
Laura “Harmony” Palay – Past Finance Administrator

Laura Palay (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.

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Rob Brink
Rob Brink

Rob is a student, educator, technologist and filmmaker who has produced multiple webinar series with the PathCheck Foundation, a global nonprofit. He hopes to contribute to the local global ecosystem of herbal medicine patients, practitioners, suppliers, growers, community-builders and educators.

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Angelica Vargas - Teaching Assistant
Angelica Vargas - Teaching Assistant

Angelica began her foray into herbal medicine as a student at Arbor Vitae in 2015. She was hoping that studying plants would give her a good excuse to spend more time outside. She was right. Since completing the 3 year certification program in 2018, Angelica continues to practice as an herbalist with a collective she helped found: Herbal Underground NYC.

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