CSSA 2025 Officer Nominations

Announcing the Nominees for Officer Positions at the Cactus & Succulent Society of America, Inc.

We are excited to introduce the outstanding individuals who have been nominated for officer positions of the Board of CSSA. These dedicated members are ready to take on leadership roles to help our cacti and succulent community flourish and grow.

Voting will take place in September, 2024. Standard, Life, Fellow, and Affiliate Societies are eligible to vote in elections. White ballots, for Standard, Life, and Fellow members, will be included in the Cactus and Succulent Journal 96-3, mailed in September.

Affiliate Societies will receive their green ballots via mail in September. Affiliate Societies should complete the Affiliate Info Form to make sure we have your correct mailing information.

Deadline for voting is November 1, 2024.


2025 Officer Nominations for a 2-Year Term

President: Rod Haenni

I see my role as President of CSSA primarily as a facilitator, making suggestions to help where needed, working with the officers and the board to balance, prioritize, and implement the many good ideas presented to us. I am strongly focused on increasing seed-growing amongst our members and I will be situated at the CSSA table at this year’s CSSA Show & Sale demonstrating simple ways that folks new to our hobby can grow from seed. I am a strong supporter of the CSSA Seed Depot and, as at the Colorado Springs convention, we will be offering a wide variety of seeds for sale.

The past year has been a momentous one for the Cactus & Succulent Society of America. The CSSA’s commitment to conservation has only expanded, backing three substantial conservation projects in South Africa and Namibia. We have also strengthened our policies on exhibiting and selling field collected plants at the CSSA Show & Sale and the biennial CSSA convention.

Promoting CSSA’s visibility and impact, we have greatly improved the CSSA website under the direction of Jon Schwark, President of the San Francisco Succulent and Cactus Society, and Julie Taber, CSSA’s exceptional new Business Manager. The CSSA monthly webinars continue to draw a strong, international audience.

I have been honored to serve the CSSA these past five years, first as a board member, then as vice-president and now as president. I pledge to continue to advance our affiliate ties and increase our membership, and continue to champion our conservation, research and seed priorities, if reelected.

Vice President: Irwin Lightstone

Pursuing his passion over his profession, Irwin closed his law practice of 29 years to become a full-time photographer. Specializing in highly detailed, artistic images of cacti
and succulents, Irwin’s images are widely published and collected. Publications that featured his work include the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Haseltonia, Sansevieria, To
The Point
, CactusWorld, and several National Geographic publications. Irwin is the former President of the North Texas Cactus and Succulent Society. With the Cactus & Succulent Society of America, he wears several hats: Vice President, Director, Co-chair of the Conservation Committee, Webinar Committee Chair, and active member of the Photo Contest/Cover Art Committee. Irwin lives in Dallas with his wife Robin and their cat Miles.

Secretary: Roxie Esterle

I am presently running for my 4th term as CSSA Board Secretary, which has been an honor and a privilege. I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible, dedicated individuals and to participate in the tremendous changes that have occurred both within CSSA and within the cactus and succulent hobby. My CSSA involvement has allowed me to learn from, travel with, host, and interact with succulent enthusiasts from around the world.

Since my last election statement, the role of succulents and cacti in my life has continued to increase. We have made significant trips to Chile and Argentina, South Africa, and
Namibia. On each trip, I was able to see magnificent, iconic, and ancient specimens and to witness first-hand the habitat destruction and poaching that threatens these treasured
populations. These experiences further inspire my commitment to conservation and education.

CSSA and our local affiliate clubs are all about sharing experiences, knowledge, adventures, cuttings, seeds, and gardens. I look forward to continuing my involvement with
CSSA and serving our growing community.

Treasurer: Nick Diomede

With a diverse professional background and a solid education, I bring a wealth of skills to the Cactus & Succulent Society of America. As an Office Manager & Auditor, I honed
expertise in auditing, change management, and effective communication. My proficiency in fiscal management and adept problem-solving abilities make me an asset to any team.

Drawing from my experience in leadership roles, I excel in spearheading initiatives and streamlining processes. Moreover, my creativity, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to compliance contribute to my ability to drive meaningful change and uphold the organization’s mission.

Beyond my professional pursuits, I harbor a deep-seated passion for the cactus and succulent hobby, captivated by its unique allure and the diverse horticultural challenges it
presents. This passion fuels my continuous pursuit of learning and innovative approaches, driving my eagerness to contribute positively to the community.

With a steadfast focus on fiscal responsibility, problem-solving, and fostering collaborative efforts, I am wholeheartedly committed to advancing the mission of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America. With my passion for the cactus and succulent hobby combined with my professional abilities, I stand ready to make a meaningful impact continuing as Treasurer within CSSA. I am genuinely enthusiastic about the prospect of further serving and contributing to both the society and the broader community of enthusiasts.

2025 Officer Nominations for a 4-Year Term

Nick Deinhart

Since a young boy, I have been fascinated by most things in the natural world. As a young adult, I was introduced to the world of cactus and succulent during a very challenging time
and my life. For me it was a godsend, these unique plants allowed me to reconnect to myself as well as a way to connect with you! In junior college, I discovered some Dudleya cymosa growing in the Sierra Nevada foothills along the Stanislaus River near where I grew up.

Today, over 15 years later, I’m still in love with this genus and have visited many populations of Dudleya from Southern Oregon coast to Central Baja California Mountain ranges and countless places in between. I am currently helping contribute to a soon to be released book on the genus. I have also contributed to a recent publication on Agave and
have been fortunate enough to travel throughout Mexico extensively for the last 7 years admiring its botanical mega diversity. In my spare time you can often find me in the garden with a paintbrush playing with Aloe, Gasteria, and Agave genetics and sowing the seeds for the next generation.

John Martinez (Incumbent)

As a retired Fire Department Battalion Chief, I have had the opportunity to develop skills in management, public relations, training, planning, and organizational leadership. These
skills would serve me well as an effective CSSA Director.

I have been a member of the CSSA for decades and have served on the Boards of several Southern California affiliate organizations, coordinating programs and events. As one of
the co-founders of the Conejo Cactus and Succulent Society, I enjoyed the opportunity to help guide the club into the successful affiliate it is today. Additionally, I have presented
multiple programs on basic succulent cultivation, plant photography, terrestrial bromeliads, Dudleya, and am frequently called upon to participate in panels and workshops.

My interest in cacti, succulents, and other exotic plants spans most of my adult life. About 12 years ago I initiated a co-operative growing compound with three other like-
minded growers. This environment of collaborating and sharing methods has provided the opportunity to expand my knowledge of basic cultivation, seed propagation, and
experimenting with hybridization.

As a current member of the CSSA Board of Directors and Chair of the Affiliates Committee, I see the opportunity to provide a better customer service experience to our affiliates through clearly defined communications, procedures, and availability of information using new technologies. Assisting the CSSA membership in finding new opportunities where we can make a positive difference in the future of the hobby and the protection of the plants we love is something I will work diligently toward.

Vonn Watkins (Incumbent)

Vonn has served as Vice President of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society for over 20 years and served as President for about 1 year. As Program Director, he has arranged
more than 300 speaker and workshop programs for the society including monthly meetings, Sonoran conferences and a national convention in 2009. He is one of the
founders of the TCSS cactus and succulent plant rescue program and also participated in the conception and origination of Pima Prickly Park where he has formulated and aided in the construction of several gardens and park display signage. He is an educational specialist and consultant on various species of CylindropuntiaGrusonia, and Opuntia and is one of the authors of the book, Field Guide to Cacti & Other Succulents of Arizona. Vonn created the TCSS logo and has been on the research committee for many
years. He has also been recognized with various service awards as well as an honorary life membership in recognition of his numerous accomplishments.

His membership in the CSSA exceeds over 35 years. In 2009 Vonn was selected to organize, contact and schedule all the guest speakers for program presentations at the CSSA Convention, and he also designed and constructed all the initial publicity materials. He was also appointed, in January of 2024, as a CSSA board member when an open position became available.

Kyle Williams

My interest in plants started when I was a teenager. That interest turned into a passion that. I pursued by obtaining a B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I followed that fascination to Duke University where I earned a PhD in botany with a focus on plant taxonomy. Through the course of my research, I spent an extensive amount of time going to the jungles of Southeast Asia (especially Thailand) to study plants in their natural habitat. Upon leaving academia, I founded Kyle’s Plants, a cactus and succulent nursery that sells plants throughout the United States.

I have been involved in local cactus and succulent societies for over a decade. For most of that time I have written the “Plant of the Month” articles for both the Los Angeles and the Conejo Valley Cactus and Succulent Societies. have also been a board member of the Conejo Society since its inception seven years ago.

In recent years there has been a major upswing in concern about cacti and succulents in habitat. Several incidents of large-scale plant harvesting have shocked the cactus & succulent community. The CSSA needs to be a key organization in educating the public about this problem and coming up with solutions in how to reduce poaching, as well as interacting with government and conservation groups to create sensible policies to tackle the wild collection issue. I feel my background gives me unique insight into the issue both from the scientific/conservation side and the plant hobbyist/collector side. I would like to use this expertise to help the CSSA navigate this complex topic.