SFOS Board Member Bios

Ron Norris

President

San Francisco Orchid Society

Ron Norris currently serves as the Director of Administrative Services for the UCSF Controller’s Office.  In this role he is responsible for overseeing a budget of $20 million, and managing an office with 140 employees.  Ron has been with the University of California system for 28 years and plans to retire in June 2018.   Prior positions with the University have included roles in accounting, budgeting, financial reporting, and office management.  Ron holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management from Northern Kentucky University.

Ron has been a member of the San Francisco Orchid Society for 30 years.  In his early years with the society he managed the corsage sales booth at the annual show for a number of years.  As his orchid collection grew he started a part-time orchid business (Utopia Orchids) and had a sales booth at the show for several years.  Due to life changes he closed the orchid business and stepped away from orchids for a period of time.  After meeting his current partner of 18 years, Jason Douglass, his interest in orchids returned and together they have amassed a significant orchid collection of about 400 plants.   Ron’s collection consists mainly of cooler growing cattleya, dendrobium, vanda, and cymbidium species and hybrids, but also a number of phalaenopsis.   Much of the collection is grown outdoors in the Mission Dolores area, with some plants grown indoors or in a micro greenhouse.

Jeff Harris, MD, PhD

Vice President and Newsletter Editor

San Francisco Orchid Society

Jeffrey Mark Harris, MD, PhD is a board-certified clinical immunologist who was on faculty at UCSF’s Division of Immunology, Rheumatology, Allergy and HIV in the Department of Pediatrics and a scientist at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology where his clinical and research interests included assessment of human thymic function, HIV vaccine development and the diagnosis and treatment of immunodeficiency disorders. For the past 15 years has worked in biotech most recently at Genentech. He has been involved in new drug development for asthma and other respiratory and immune-based disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.

Jeff’s interest in orchids arose over 20 years ago from friends who were already orchid fanatics, who gave him plants as gifts, as well as invited him to travel with them on orchid/hiking tours to various places including Costa Rica, Ecuador and Borneo. As his own collection of plants grew, he was compelled to set up a warm-intermediate greenhouse in his backyard where he could more successfully grow and bloom a variety of orchids – especially vandas and bulbophyllum. He also has a small outdoor cool-growing area under his back deck for masdevallias and draculas.

Jeff has been a member in AOS and SFOS since 2009, and served as treasurer from 2012-2014. As Vice President and the current newsletter editor he hopes to see SFOS modernize, re-invigorate and grow it’s membership with an ongoing appreciation for the elegance and beauty of orchids and efforts aimed at conserving them and their natural habitats.

Mary E. Gerritsen, Ph.D.

Treasurer

San Francisco Orchid Society

Mary Gerritsen works an independent biotechnology consultant, her “retirement” after along career in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry. Mary’s scientific contributions and drug development skills have been directed at the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, for various types of cancer, as well as for ophthalmological indications such as dry eye, macular degeneration and uveitis.

Mary first became interested in orchids during her post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Diego in the late 70s. However, after moving to Connecticut in 1980 she took a 17 year hiatus from orchids and grew tomatoes and perennials instead! In 1997 she moved to the San Francisco area (to join Genentech), and rekindled her interest in orchids. Her collection has grown considerably from her initial collection of a few cymbidiums and phalaenopsis and now numbers close to a 1000 plants, mostly species. She has a large collection of miniature orchids, as well as numerous pleurothallids, paphiopedilum, bulbophyllum, and dendrobium species. In addition to growing orchids, Mary likes to see and photograph them in their native habitats, and this has led to expeditions to Australia, Southeast Asia, China, the Mediterranean region, Europe, Madagascar, South Africa, Mexico and other parts of Central America, many countries in South America, as well as various parts of the USA and Canada. In addition to her interest in orchids and their habitats, Mary has written, with co-author and photographer, Ron Parsons, a number of books on orchids including Masdevallias: Gems of the Orchid World; A Compendium of Miniature Orchid Species; A Bay Area Guide to Orchids and Their Culture. Mary and Ron also coauthored a book on a genus of North American wildflowers: Calochortus; Mariposa Lilies and their Relatives.

A member of the SFOS since 2006, Mary has served as President, Vice-President and now Treasurer. She also acted as the show chair for the Orchids in the Park for several years, and served on the POE show committee. In addition to her SFOS duties, Mary is also a director and treasurer of the Orchid Conservation Alliance, a conservation organization focused on preserving orchids and their habitats.

Erik Sayle

Secretary

San Francisco Orchid Society

Erik Sayle has been a member of SFOS for about 15 years. He currently serves as secretary on the board – a return to the position, which he held for two years when he first joined. His interest in orchids has “grown” over the years and he now maintains hundreds of (mostly) species outdoors in his yard in San Francisco as well hundreds more in a 16′ x 16′ greenhouse at his family’s place in San Mateo, close to the Bay. He has been renting additional space from Dan Newman’s Hanging Gardens in Pacifica for the past 15 years. Erik is particularly interested in cool and intermediate outdoor orchids such as Himalayan Dendrobiums, coelogynes and pleurothallids. He likes warm-growing orchids like Bulbophyllums, though doesn’t have much space for them indoors!

Erik considers himself a naturalist and also has a degree in molecular biology. He has worked as a consultant in a variety of areas including biotechnology, computers, recruiting, nanotechnology, agtech and business.

Erik’s interests include all aspects of nature. Alongside his partner Josie, he enjoys scuba diving in the Philippines and other warm water locations, where he hopes to travel further in search of orchids. Other hobbies include cutting-edge science and futurist studies, catch-and-release fly fishing, mountain biking and martial arts. He is extremely concerned about climate change and frequently sounds the alarm on social media, or at almost any opportunity, about this imminent catastrophe that is destroying the nature we all love so much.

Jason Douglass

Member of the Board

San Francisco Orchid Society

Jason Douglass has been working as a Practice Coordinator in the Endocrinology Department with the University of California – San Francisco for the past 10 years. In this role he works with patients, service providers, insurance companies, and other UCSF departments to successfully meet the needs of patients. Prior to UCSF, Jason worked for several years in the wholesale travel industry and also in the horticultural arena. During college he worked at Sloat Garden Center followed by Sunborne Nursery and Calyx & Corolla where he was an Assistant Manager, conducted training for new hires and created the “Plant Doctor” program which brought him into contact with the likes of Lauren Bacall. Jason graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature.

Jason has been a member of the San Francisco Orchid Society for 18 years, as the partner of Ron Norris. Together Jason and Ron have a collection of roughly 400 plants, which are mostly grown outdoors, in a micro greenhouse, or indoors at Ron’s home in the Mission Dolores area. However, Jason also maintains a window sill collection at his own home near the Civic Center. Jason mainly grows Dendrobium, Odontoglossum, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum and miscellaneous genera. Aside from orchids, Jason enjoys baking, travel, reading and theater.

Alvin Hom

Member of the Board

San Francisco Orchid Society

Alvin Hom is the Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Pacific Biosciences, a biotech company that designs, develops, and manufactures sequencing systems to resolve genetically complex problems.  He was hired as PacBio’s first HR employee 11 years ago, when the company was an early stage start-up.  Prior to PacBio, Alvin’s experience includes serving as a consultant at Google, and as an entrepreneur having co-founded a company in the Nineties.  With over 20 years of recruiting experience, he is passionate about matching talented individuals with great careers.

Alvin is a native San Franciscan, born in Chinatown during the Sixties.  He graduated from George Washington High School, and earned a business degree from the University of San Francisco.  His interest in orchids began a few years ago when he learned that orchids would make good companion plants in his carnivorous plant collection.  He grows Samurai Orchids, or Neofinetia (Vanda) falcata, in inorganic media, outside in the cool foggy climate of the Lakeshore District.

This is Alvin’s first year serving on the board.  He has previously volunteered at the POE and OITP.  He hopes to leverage his industrial experience, and advise the board in the areas of modernization and growing membership.

Mary Antonnette Queri

Member of the Board

San Francisco Orchid Society

Mary Antonnette Queri has been living in San Francisco since 1990. Born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, she is a graduate of the City College of SF Nursing program.

Her fascination with orchids was reignited in 2014 after receiving a few plants which she nurtured while in recovery from surgery. Though her love of orchids started in the Philippines in the ’80s, it was short-lived as her vanda collection was stolen on New Year’s Day!

She is an adventurous person having walked several hundreds of miles from France to Spain on the Camino de Santiago Compostela in 2007. Antonnette and her husband enjoy camping and hiking to combine their love of nature, wildlife and astronomy.

Dave Hermeyer

Past President

San Francisco Orchid Society

Dave Hermeyer has been retired for 28% of his entire life now, after a long and highly lucrative careers as an undercover CIA agent (don’t tell anyone), exorcist, and astronaut. It was so long ago in the last millenium that now he can’t even imagine how he ever managed to work full time. But that’s a good thing, because shortly after retiring, on one fateful day he bought a $6.99 Phalaenopsis traderjoensis on a whim (Ooh, it’s so pretty…). He took it home, determined to figure out how to keep it alive. And he did, which isn’t too surprising, since he had already been gardening for over 20 years before that, in one form or another. First organic vegetables (he was a Birkenstock-wearing down-to-the-earth granola guy in Eugene Oregon in the ‘80s), then some houseplants, then landscaping ornamentals, then even more ornamentals.

After being lured to San Francisco in ‘91, he and (eventual) hubby Sam bought a Victorian in the Haight with a “garden” of 1,500 square feet of masses of blackberries and weeds, and his eyes glazed over with thoughts of how many vegetables and ornamentals he could grow there. The present estimate is somewhere between 500-1000 species.

But back to that Phal. It thrived, so he figured he’d add oh, maybe one or two more orchids. About that time (this was 2000) he shelled out 15 bucks to see something called the “Pacific Orchid Exposition”, and was promptly gobsmacked by the size and awesomeness of the show. He went home with “one or two orchids”. One thing led to another, and before anyone could warn him, he had joined the SFOS. In 2005 he and Sam built a little greenhouse, where about 200 happy orchids live now. In 2013 he got roped into becoming got elected as a Board Director, and two years later became President, with all its attendant glory and perks.

He’s also been a volunteer at Strybing Arboretum for 1.5 decades, been helping protect baby sea turtles nests for a few years at Cape Hatteras and recently in Costa Rica, coordinating phone bank volunteers at the Hillary SF headquarters in the 2016 election, and fretting about Trump, climate change, and the state of the world in general.

Valerie Mountain

Member of the Board

San Francisco Orchid Society

Claire Zvanski

Member of the Board, Membership Co-Chair

San Francisco Orchid Society