Panel of alumnae experts in conservation and agriculture to visit Sweet Briar

Posted on April 03, 2019 by Amy Ostroth

Sweet Briar Farm barn
Sweet Briar’s “At the Invitation of the President” series continues at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in Memorial Chapel, with a panel of alumnae who will share their expertise in conservation and agriculture issues: Gay Kenney Browne ’82, Mary Pope M. Hutson ’83, Amy Tabb ’01 and Eliza Walbridge ’72.

Browne is an environmental advocate, author and entrepreneur. In 2005, she founded, which started as a printed city guide for Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City, but has grown to be an in-depth publication for more than 100,000 sustainable businesses. As founder and CEO of Greenopia, her mission is to provide easy access to eco-friendly business and products. She is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, Medium, Thrive Global and other social media outlets. She’s also the author of the upcoming book “Living with a Green Heart: How to Keep Your Body, Your Home, and the Planet Healthy in a Toxic World,” to be released in April. Browne has worked with and supported organizations like Waterkeeper Alliance, Women for Women International, Kiss the Ground, P.S. Arts and Friends of Heritage Preservation as part of her commitment to helping people live healthier lives.

Hutson currently serves as Sweet Briar’s vice president of alumnae relations and development, but before coming to the College, she had an impressive career in conservation. Hutson managed the Land Trust Alliance’s policy work on Capitol Hill, yielding billions of dollars in federal funding for conservation groups. She was executive director of the Lowcountry Open Land Trust in Charleston and was the first woman appointed to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Board in 1995, where she helped set state policies for land and water resources. She helped start the “Becoming an Outdoor Woman” group in South Carolina, one of the first such groups in the nation. She also served as the only woman on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Council for the past 11 years, appointed by three secretaries of the Department of the Interior.

butterfly garden Sweet Briar’s butterfly research garden near Guion Science Center

Walbridge owns Manderley Farms, which has been in her family since 1929. Her farm is home to horses, geese, chickens, goats and sheep. In addition, her family were early practitioners of sustainable farming practices and they operate Philly Equine partners, which offers equine experiential learning and therapy. She received her Sweet Briar degree in practice of art and then went on to complete a master’s degree in education at Harvard University. In her spare time, she does competitive carriage driving.

Tabb started life on a farm, part of an extended farming family in West Virginia. After graduating from Sweet Briar with a double major in mathematics/computer science and music, she attended Duke University and received a master’s degree in musicology. She earned another master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Purdue University in electrical and computer engineering. These days, she works for the United States Department of Agriculture as a research agricultural engineer. In this role, she is concerned with solving automation problems in the agricultural domain. Generally speaking, using computer vision and robotics concepts, she develops algorithms and systems to perceive aspects of plants for agricultural automation and plant phenotyping. Tabb is appearing at this event in her personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of Tabb and do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Department of Agriculture or the United States Government.

Deer on campus Deer near the Art Barn, the College’s former dairy

The alumnae are visiting as part of Sweet Briar’s celebration of Earth Day and its commitment to stewarding the land of its 3,250-acre campus. The College has recently undertaken several new agricultural enterprises, including the installation of an apiary and the planting of both a wildflower meadow and grape vines.

“At the Invitation of the President” events celebrate savvy women who are artists, authors, performers, philanthropists, industry thought leaders and social change makers. The series aims to inspire our current students — the next generation of women leaders — by offering unique opportunities to hear from and network with women who are established leaders in their fields. Events in the series are supported by gifts to Sweet Briar College and are free and open to the public.

For more information, please email Rachel Pietsch at