The Coast News Group
RSF Garden Club Executive Director Shelly Hart, left, is leaving her position to pursue a teaching career and will be replaced by Thora Guthrie. Courtesy photo
Community Rancho Santa Fe Rancho Santa Fe Featured

Garden Club executive director steps down

Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club Executive Director Shelly Hart has decided to leave her post at the nonprofit to pursue a full-time teaching career. Hart describes her departure in early December as bittersweet having worked at the club since 2016. 

“In my two years with the club, I have made some incredible friends and made even more wonderful memories. As much as I have enjoyed my time with the Garden Club, it is time for me to get back to my original passion which is teaching,” Hart said. “Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with so many kids as an arts educator for the San Diego Opera and La Jolla Playhouse. I finally made the leap and completed my multi-subject teaching credential. I will start my student teaching in January and begin my teaching career in the fall of 2019.”

Hart was instrumental in helping find her replacement, Thora Guthrie, who will begin her new position championing the annual Wreath Making Workshop at the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center on Dec. 10.

“This will be Thora’s first day on the job,” Hart said. “This is very nostalgic for me because I started on Wreath Making day back in 2016.”

Hart said Guthrie spent many years passionately enhancing organizations and communities through creative communications strategies and consensus building. She also noted Guthrie prides herself in nurturing relationships between the business communities, residents and civic leaders.

For Guthrie, it’s all about establishing new initiatives to help communities grow and thrive.

“Thora has co-founded nonprofit organizations and cultural events and has led and participated in many more,” Hart said. “She served as the CEO of Escondido’s Downtown Business Association and Business Improvement District from 2009 until 2014. Thora was also the executive director of Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association from 2015 until 2017.”

Guthrie also has a background in advertising, public relations and marketing.

“I am so thrilled to be joining the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club at this pivotal time,” Guthrie said. “The club does so much for the community and is on the cusp of doing so much more. I am honored to work with an organization with such a long, distinguished history and such a promising future. I look forward to working with community members and encourage those that are not familiar with today’s Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club to learn more and to become involved.”

The Garden Club was established in 1920 and is more recently recognized for its annual grant program. In 2018, it gifted more than $50,000 in grants.

Hart said she realizes it’s sometimes difficult when a person transitions out of a position, and a new person takes the reins.

“I have found that often in the nonprofit world, change is good,” Hart said. “Having new eyes and new ideas can really breathe life into an organization. We have worked hard to find the perfect person to take on that task, and I am thrilled for you all to meet Thora.” 

For upcoming RSF Garden Club events, visit