About | DC Natives


We increase pollinator habitats and create local beauty for DC residents.

Our Vision

DC Natives supports a healthy climate by increasing pollinator habitats and creating the local beauty we believe every resident deserves.  

DC Natives’ is a step by step approach to creating habitats.  Every small project contributes to a beautiful, aggregated whole. DC Natives hopes these gardens will foster a love of gardening and a deeper understanding of the environmental significance of pollinators.  We offer the gardens as a vehicle to help bridge communities, underscoring the shared environment that connects us and the importance of collaboration to improve it.

Our Team

DC Natives is a city-wide collaboration. We respond to local need and the direction of our neighborhood partners.

Thorne Rankin
Thorne is a DC native with many  years of experience in landscape design and project management. She brings a broad knowledge of the local natural environment, the importance of pollinators and has witnessed the evolution of many local neighborhoods.

Board of Directors

Lia Cheek
Lia Cheek has been a resident of Deanwood since 2018 and works as the Senior Director for Eastern region at The Wilderness Society and recipient of the Mardie Murie rising leaders award. Lia is a returned Peace Corps Philippines volunteer and is excited to contribute to her community through serving on the DC Natives board. Lia loves spending time outside and can be usually found in her garden, with a book, or planning her next trekking, traveling, or diving adventure.

Zerline Hughes
Zerline Hughes Spruill lives in Ward 7, steps from the nation’s only national park devoted to aquatic plant life, is a member of the Eastland Gardens Civic Association, the Eastland Gardens Flower Club, and has served as a DC Natives block captain since 2020. She comes to DC Natives with a background in journalism and social justice communications having worked with grassroots, local, and national organizations as communications director. Zerline is also a published writer and Zumba Fitness instructor.

Synta Keeling
Synta Keeling, a Virginia native, is a longtime resident of Ward 7’s Capitol View neighborhood. Having worked for the federal government for more than fourteen years, her professional background includes work in Asian American civil rights, immigration, labor, and administrative law. A lifelong gardener, she has a passion for community development in Anacostia River communities, sustainable practices, urban agriculture, and native pollinator gardens. Before joining the board, Ms. Keeling served as a DC Natives Block Captain where she enjoys working with other DC residents to install pollinator gardens that beautify the District and help to create a resident led carbon sink District-wide.

Julie Lawhorn
Originally from North Carolina, Julie Lawhorn has lived in northeast Washington, DC for over ten years. Julie started planting flowers around her apartment building with cuttings shared by friends and family. She enjoys learning the names of native pollinator plants, sharing plants, and meeting neighbors through DC Natives. Julie has over fifteen years of experience in government and non-profit positions.

Hollis Luzecky
Hollis is a DC resident and an environmental lawyer with the federal government. She is an enthusiastic nature lover and environmental advocate, and enjoys sharing this passion with others. Life-long learner, detail oriented, organized, and able to think outside the box. She is working towards becoming a Master Gardener.

Sharita Slayton
Sharita Slayton is a Native Washingtonian currently residing in Ward 7 of Eastland Gardens and serves as a DC Native block captain. You can often find her in various gardens in the community, admiring the beauty of pollinators and recruiting neighbors to become an active part of DC Natives. As a solution oriented African American woman with a vision for community resilience and successful intergenerational engagement, she enjoys using her experience of accessing local, state, and Federal resources for collaboration and results. She understands that solutions come from those that are being directly affected and we must include the affected to be effective with sustainable solutions.

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