Deyanira Bautista

Deyanira Bautista is a clinical Master of Social Work (MSW) and educator whose long-standing interest in the environment stems from her upbringing in the mountains of the Dominican Republic, its capitol city of Santo Domingo, and Manhattan, New York.  

The visionary leader for NRD, Deianira promotes the connection between people and their landscape, as well as children and nature. She is our vitalbehind-the-scenes force who is most passionate about creating outdoor learning environments for children to experience the beauty and joys of the natural world just as she did as a child in the Dominican Republic. Deyanira works in the public school system in child development, where she regularly engages with the communities she knows best in her role as a specialist of children of immigrant backgrounds in urban settings.


Lauren Wheeler

Lauren Wheeler is founder and principal designer at Natural Resources Design, Inc.  She received her Master’s Degree from Conway School of Landscape Design + Planning. Drawing from her knowledge as an arborist, LEED AP, and Living Building Challenge Ambassador, she has designed award-winning landscapes, from intimate urban gardens to natural play municipal parks.  She specializes in developing complex stormwater management solutions for small-scale settings in addition to providing consultations to industry professionals.  

An innovative leader in her field, Lauren is applying her 30+ years of experience in her capacity as Program Director and faculty in The George Washington University’s graduate programs in Sustainable Landscapes and Landscape Design.  She has been the driving force behind forging a more ecologically robust trajectory for the landscape design program’s curriculum.   Lauren loves to work with individuals and communities to unite the region’s ecosystems with their environment.


Mary Sper

Mary Sper is a principal designer at Natural Resources Design, Inc. She is passionate about weaving the unique natural and cultural histories of each site into the details of her work and enjoys tapping into her artistic talents to bring design ideas to life. She especially enjoys incorporating the interactions between native plant communities, soils, stormwater management strategies, and edible plantings to create sustainable, experiential and multi-functional landscapes that evoke a sense of place and provide beneficial habitat for wildlife and humans alike. 

After a 22-year career in the U.S. Navy, Mary applied her love of the outdoors, geology and working with her hands toward earning a Master’s of Professional Studies in Sustainable Landscapes from The George Washington University, where she now teaches native plant courses.

Mary regularly volunteers with the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy in Washington, D.C., conducting invasive plant removal, installing restoration plantings and assisting with low-impact stormwater mitigation projects.  She was the Landscape Construction Manager for Team Capitol DC’s award-winning ‘Harvest Home’ entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon.  She also has experience working on residential LEED and Living Building Challenge projects.


Barb Neal

Barbara Neal provides 25+ years of arboricultural and horticultural experience to site analysis and design strategies around historic and mature trees. As past president of the American Society of Consulting Arborist (ASCA), her leadership of innovative measures to protect trees in development sites influenced a new direction in the arboricultural industry.  She teaches about trees and soils preservation at George Washington University specializing in stormwater management engineered soils. 


Julie Melear

Julie is assistant project manager, project communications and client liaison with Natural Resources Design, Inc. She is focused on creating ecologically sensitive spaces that are both beautiful and functional. Julie’s projects feature site appropriate native plantings that benefit both the human experience and ecological services. Throughout the design/build process, Julie focuses on collaborative opportunities with clients, architects, designers, and contractors. 

While receiving her Master’s Degree in Landscape Design from George Washington University, Julie was chosen as the lead landscape designer for the award winning Harvest Home, Team Capitol DC's entry in the 2013 US Solar Decathlon.  Julie has received additional training through Certified Playground Safety Inspector classes with the National Parks and Recreation Association. 

Julie often volunteers with a local Title I school engaging in a variety of duties including: developing low impact development spaces, community outreach, grant writing, leading community planting projects, and teaching the protection and restoration of local watersheds and the Chesapeake Bay to individual classes.