Our board members

Collie Turner, Founder

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I love to garden and I founded Heroic Gardens to extend  my passion to support veterans and their families. 

Too many times, people that are most deserving of help don't have access to what they need or awareness of what they can do to help themselves.

My Grandfather was US Army SSgt in WWII. I remember, as a small child, spending hours in my Grandparent's vegetable garden in Somers Point, NJ. We were lucky, that garden was the size of a football field. I was too young to understand how and why my Grandfather spent hours there. 

He was healing.

Having grown up affiliated with the American Legion Auxiliary, and seeing how my Grandparents continued to give back to their community and the soldiers that served, I felt the call to continue their commitment and honor their legacy. 

I'm a candidate for a certification in Horticultural Therapy in 2020 through Temple University's Tyler School of Art Division of Architectural & Environmental Design.

Dawn Heefner

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" My first gardening memory is as a 3 or 4 year-old, in our tiny back yard in Lancaster, PA, fascinated with 4 O'Clocks, those marvelous flowers which don't open till late afternoon. 

Later, growing up in farm country there, I helped tend our veggie garden, and hung out on classmates' farms. 

Now, garden life is about coaxing veggies and ornamentals to thrive despite shade - and deer."

By day, Dawn is a TV news producer for the ABC-owned station in Philadelphia, specializing in health & medical stories. 

"Before you can tell a good story, you have to listen, inquire, analyze, and empathize."

Dawn has also always dabbled in textiles, color, and design, now as a quilt maker and quilt historian. Dawn is a former board member of American Quilt Study Group and she is a nationally certified appraiser, lecturer, participant in documentation projects, and authorship.     

"It's much like forensic detective work. Through it, one appreciates community, the anonymous contributions of women, and how much textiles shaped America." 

She is also daughter of a WWII submariner from the Pacific Theater. 

Mark Leighton, Secretary

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Not everyone can say they played with McEnroe and well.....neither can Mark.  

But being a father of 3 with a full-time career and an avid tennis player, Mark can say he works and plays as hard as McEnroe.  

In his life, he has been lucky enough to work for some great companies such as Merck, Campbell Soup Company, Pfizer, and Astra Zeneca.  But the best gig he ever landed was at Pointroll, a rich media technology company, where he was lucky enough to learn the ropes of the role by an amazing woman (who later became his wife) Carolyn.

When not hard at work, he spends most of his time with his kids, playing tennis, practicing lacrosse with his son, watching horseback riding competitions and running with (usually behind) his wife.  

He is also active in the community, as a volunteer Den Leader to the local cub scout pack and coaching soccer with Greater Chester Valley Soccer Association.

Tara Moughan

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Tara Moughan has launched and sold two companies over the last 20 years. 


The first, Rea Designs, an event production company with event highlights including the 1997 Academy Awards, 2002 Schwan's 50th Anniversary Celebration, 2002-2007 Macy's Fash Bash/Glamorama, 2005 Super Bowl XXXIX, 2004/2008 Republican Convention and the 2008 Spam Museum Opening. 


The second, Toast Productions, a marketing firm specializing in luxury retail brands including clients such as Wolf, SubZero, Valcucine, Maserati, American Express, Medtronic, Target, General Mills and Ketel One. 

Under this umbrella she also developed multiple consumer events including; Sample Circuit, Last Chef Standing and The Affair, which operated in (12) US Markets.  


Tara earned a BA in Applied Design from the University of MN and an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of MN. 

She is currently a marketing consultant, specializing in small to midsize & non-profit companies; focused in the events, arts, luxury & gourmet living markets. 

Tara is a founding board member of The FAF Coalition; a creative placemaking organization. 


And now, combining her passions of gardening & community development, she has joined the board of Heroic Gardens.

Gene Miller

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What are my inspirations?


My mom has been my inspiration when it comes to gardening (and so many other topics!). She could grow anything with her magical "green thumb" and proceeded to do just that, creating amazing spaces with vegetables and plants as far as the eye could see at home.


My dad has a passion for urban planning, commercial development, and home design. As a veteran returning from his assignment in Korea during the Vietnam War, he developed urban spaces in Columbus, Ohio, leading the City's development department, paving the way for thousands of residents to enjoy these outdoor spaces. He also designed and built our childhood home, complimenting my mother's passion for meaningful outdoor spaces. My whole world view about serving our neighbors started with my dad's passion for internal and external design.


I first learned about the struggles of our veterans when my uncle, who was an MP during the Vietnam War, would tell me snippets of stories about his experiences. His story, struggles, and life accomplishments, in the face of many health-related issues, were a big driver for my involvement in helping veterans, as he eventually paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country with his passing.


I learned that it is possible to do more with less while living in London with my family. It was always a pleasure to visit friends with much smaller gardens spaces than one has in the US and to see the innovation and love built into these small spaces. It changed my perspective on creating meaningful outdoor experiences with limited space and budget.


My top three favorite garden spaces are Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kew Gardens in Richmond, United Kingdom, and the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio, Texas.


Gene is the head of digital marketing at Victory Capital, a global investment management firm in San Antonio, Texas.

Jason Romero

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I’m Philadelphia born and raised and currently work for the city. Through my professional carrier I encountered Heroic Gardens. 


I didn’t have much experience with gardening until I met Collie but like fate she set me on a new path. In the time I’ve known her I’ve accomplished and learned so much. 


I’ve removed large swathes of bamboo, ripped two trees out of the ground with my hands, and built a patio but the most important part of all of this has been giving back to the veteran community. 


Being a veteran myself, I feel passionate about taking care of my fellow veterans and doing what I can to improve their quality of life. 


After having participated in several projects and volunteer events I gladly accepted a position on the Board when offered. For me, this is the next step to take on more responsibilities and give back to the veteran community in new ways.


 I’ve always been willing and able to adjust, adapt, and overcome any obstacle in front of me and I look forward to serving as a Board Member of Heroic Gardens.

Paul Kawoczka

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