About the Gardens – Sherman Library and Gardens

About the Gardens

Arnold D. Haskell, the founder of Sherman Library & Gardens, was a successful businessman with a passion for education and gardens. In 1966 he founded Sherman Library & Gardens, naming it after his mentor, Moses H. Sherman.

This beautiful and tranquil cultural center dates back to the 1950s, when Haskell moved from Los Angeles to Corona del Mar. Wanting an office close to his new home, he purchased a charming little fired adobe house (now part of the Library) and the adjoining property. By 1956, Haskell had added another wing to the property, and — long a lover of flora — began landscaping the surrounding land.

Over the course of a decade, he acquired nearby lots, until he owned the entire block in 1967. In that same year, he donated the land to The Sherman Foundation, which he and Sherman’s daughters established in 1951. The Sherman Foundation opened the first part of the Gardens in 1966. Between 1966 and 1974 the magnificent facilities took shape as Haskell oversaw the construction of the entire block, including the conservatory, central garden, gift shop, café and library.

Today Sherman Library & Gardens is a monument to Haskell’s dream of an educational and cultural center: a premier botanical garden and outstanding research library with collections related to the history of the Pacific Southwest.

Meet the Team

Check out the amazing team that keeps Sherman Gardens & Library running smoothly.

Board of Governors


Ron Vanderhoff

General Manager and VP of Roger's Gardens, Newport Beach

Ron is the General Manager and VP of Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach.  He grew up enjoying the outdoors and began planting, weeding, and tending to his garden of strawberries, roses, and other flowers at a very early age.  His early exploits took him deep into nature, on explorations throughout the southwestern United States soon learning the names and stories of nearly every plant, insect, bird or animal that he came across.

Soon Ron’s passion graduated to horticulture where his interests included climate appropriate gardens, urban ecosystems, education, and environmental stewardship.  He prefers working with the natural rhythms of a garden, allowing plants to be the teachers thus reducing a gardener’s pressure on our planet. 

Ron is an active native field botanist involved in many aspects of native plant biology, distribution, conservation, restoration, and rare plants, and is a frequent speaker on these topics.  He has been a frequent contributor to various horticultural and business publications and sits on numerous science and advisory committees at both the state and local levels.  He is currently a chapter director of the California Native Plant Society and Calflora, an advisor to California Invasive Plant Council and PlantRight, and is a past Director and Committee Chair of the California Association of Nurseries and Gardens Centers. 


Chet Harrison

Principal, Trico Realty Incorporated, Costa Mesa


Adam Schwerner

Director, Horticulture and Resort Enhancement Disneyland Resort

As director of Horticulture and Resort Enhancement in Anaheim California, Adam is responsible for designing and maintaining the living beauty of the resort, overseeing the landscaped and flower-filled lands, as well as the holiday, building and attraction décor teams at the Resort.

Previously, Adam was the Director of the Chicago Park District’s multidisciplinary Department of Cultural and Natural Resources, where he spearheaded the Park District’s initiatives to forge bold, inclusive connections between the arts and Chicago’s neighborhoods by increasing arts presence – in all its permutations – throughout Chicago’s parks.

One major project under way is “Art from the Ashes”, in which wood from ash trees dying from Emerald Ash Borer infestation is utilized by artists to create sculpture, performance and other public art. Since 2005, as Director of the Department of Natural Resources, he orchestrated the overhaul of landscape management operations for the Park District’s 8,300 acres of parkland and transformed the Park District’s two major conservatories into internationally acclaimed facilities.

He frequently gives presentations to national and international audiences on topics including contemporary public garden design and the integration of art into public parks and gardens. Adam was past President of the Chicago Parks Foundation, founder of the Lincoln Park Conservatory Council, a former member of the Chicago Wilderness Executive Committee, and was the Chicago Park District liaison to Chicago’s seven world-class museums and Lincoln Park Zoo.

He has served as a board member and co-chair of the APGA Program Committee and as a member of the Chicago APGA Conference Host Committee. He has a degree in ornamental horticulture from Rutgers University and spent 12 years working at the NY Botanical Garden in NY prior to coming to Chicago nineteen years ago to serve as the Chicago Park District’s Deputy Director of Conservatories.

Julie Brinkerhoff

Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, Affiliate ASLA

Executive Senior Principal, President and CFO of Lifescapes International, Inc.

Executive Senior Principal, President and CFO of Lifescapes International, Inc., Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs has been active in the real estate industry her entire career. She worked for an architectural firm, followed by a commercial development firm, for the first ten years of her professional live. For the last nearly 4 decades she has focused on guiding the growth of her international, award winning landscape architectural
firm. Locally in Orange County, her firm’s projects include Pacific City, South Coast Village, Belcourt residential community, The Marke apartments in Santa Ana, One Ford Road-The Balboa Collection numerous residential homes and master planned communities. She is a frequent guest speaker, lecturer and author on design and marketing-related issues for the industry. With an education in marketing, accounting, landscape design visioning and creative writing, Julie oversees the marketing, sales and financial management of the firm.

Julie’s ideology on the firm’s client-centric philosophy, “We have no illusion why clients hire us. We have extensive success in delivering environments that make an added-value contribution to the project’s bottom line, to attract and keep guests at their properties. We create attractive destinations that keep guests there longer, which means they spend more discretionary dollars on property. Beauty is good business.”

An Orange County resident, her breadth of activities includes memberships in a variety of professional and charitable organizations. She currently serves on the Executive Committee for the Board of Directors of HomeAid America as Vice President/Strategic Planning (and is also a cofounder of the organization) which is celebrating it’s 30 th anniversary in 2019. She is an active member of the Urban Land Institute (serving on the Entertainment Development Council), served for 17 years on the board of the BIA/Orange County in a variety of roles, including overseeing Community Involvement, is a NAHB Life Spike recipient and was inducted into the California Building Industry Hall of Fame in 2008. She’s the recipient of numerous professional awards including Orange County Businesswoman of the Year, Soroptimist International Woman of Distinction Award and the B.J. Stewart Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Involvement.  She Co Chairs the Women’s Leadership Initiative for the Urban Land Institute nationwide and regionally, served for three years in Orange County. She continues her commitment for mentoring women and helping young professionals achieve their own success by sharing her own experiences. She is married to Donald Jacobs, FAIA and has a daughter, Maya Rodgers, who is an entrepreneur artist and theatre manager and is married to Jason Rodgers, also her business partner in FE-O-RAMA, a custom haberdashery company.

She is an active supporter of Sherman Library and Gardens, serving on its Board of Governors, which focuses on the restoration and expansion of the precious botanical gardens and library situated in Corona Del Mar, California. Most recently, her home was featured on the annual Newport Beach Garden Tour, benefiting the gardens. She was inspired to join this important effort through her parents, Donald and Barbara Brinkerhoff, who co-founded Lifescapes International over 60 years ago and who have been
enjoying “Sherman Library and Gardens” since moving to Balboa Island over 50 years ago.

The legacy continues…


Karen Kewell Jacoby

Karen is a fourth generation Californian having graduated from USC with a BS degree in Finance and Business Economics.  Later, she sold, installed, and implemented payroll and human resource software.  She then joined her family’s business, Los Angeles Paper Box, whose customers included See’s Candies, In-N-Out, and Macy’s among others until her family sold the company 13 years ago.

Karen and her husband held their wedding reception at Sherman Library & Gardens some 15 years ago at the suggestion of her mother, Carol Kewell.  Ten years ago, Karen saw there was a need for docents advertised on Sherman Gardens’ bulletin board.  It was at that point she signed up for the docent training class.  Since then she not only has been a years-long docent, but a Chairperson for the group two of those years.  She loves providing informative tours to everyone from children to adults sharing the history, beauty, and peacefulness of Sherman Library & Gardens.

She is active in her church and has given tours to groups of fellow-parishioners.  Working out at Step, Zumba, and Pilates keeps Karen fit as does spending time with her many great nieces and nephews.