Meet Our Staff
F. Todd Lasseigne, Executive Director
Dr. F. Todd Lasseigne, a highly respected horticulturist and public garden leader, holds horticultural degrees from three universities. He earned his BS and MS degrees in Horticulture from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Georgia. He earned his Ph.D in Horticultural Science from North Carolina State University.
Early in his career, he was awarded the Martin McLaren Horticultural Scholarship from the Garden Club of America, which he used to study gardens, garden history, plant diversity, plant conservation, and horticulture in the United Kingdom. He has undertaken plant expeditionary work in China, the Republic of Georgia, Mexico, and much of the U.S. He has visited more than 450 gardens during his career.
Dr. Lasseigne has been invited to speak to nursery and public garden professionals in the U.S., the Japanese Nursery Association in Saitama, Japan, and the Seoul Botanic Park in South Korea. He served as the chair of the Plant Collections Professional Section for the American Public Gardens Association from 2008 to 2011, is active in numerous plant societies, and helped organize professional meetings for the Maple Society and the American Public Gardens Association.
Before coming to Bellingrath Gardens and Home, Dr. Lasseigne was President and CEO of Tulsa Botanic Garden in Osage County, Oklahoma, a position he held from 2011 to 2020. Under his leadership, Tulsa Botanic Garden was developed into a nationally recognized botanical garden. In addition, Dr. Lasseigne was the founding Executive Director of the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden in Kernersville, N.C., and Assistant Director of the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.
Dr. Lasseigne is a native of Thibodaux, La., and is married to Heather Toedt. He was selected to replace Dr. William E. Barrick after a national search. Dr. Barrick retired on July 19, 2019, after 20 years at Bellingrath, and was named Executive Director Emeritus.
Tom Livers, Director of Development
Tom Livers is Director of Development at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. His duties include securing and directing all annual and capital gifts for the Bellingrath Gardens and Home Foundation, as well as a focus on elevating and enhancing Bellingrath’s physical campus, programs, outreach, and reputation through fundraising.
Livers is an award-winning fundraiser with an exceptional track record of success. Over the course of more than two decades in development, he has raised more than $70 million through major gifts, corporations and foundations, and has overseen numerous successful capital campaigns and endowment initiatives.
Livers, who resides in Biloxi, Miss., has worked extensively in the Gulf Coast region. Previously, he was president of Commonsense Fundraising, a consulting firm that provides in-depth planning, implementation and management of development campaigns for nonprofit organizations. His work experience in Mobile includes leading the development department at the Community Foundation of South Alabama, where he managed the establishment of new agency endowment through the three-year Kresge Foundation “Partnership to Build Community Capital” three-to-one match challenge grant.
In 2004, he was named Outstanding Fundraising Executive of the Year by the Gulf Coast Association of Fundraising Professionals. Also, he was twice nominated Fundraiser of the Year for the International Association of Fundraising Professionals.
A native of Louisville, Ky., Livers earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology at the University of Louisville and completed graduate zoology studies at Butler University and the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
Thomas McGehee, Director of the Bellingrath Home
Tom McGehee has served as the Director of the Bellingrath Home since January 1994. In that capacity, he oversees the 15-room Bellingrath Home and its collection of decorative arts and antiques as well as its archives. He also maintains the Delchamps Collection of Boehm Porcelain.
McGehee currently serves as past president of the Rotary Club of Mobile and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery, the Friends of the Alabama Governor’s Mansion, and the Friends of the History Museum of Mobile. In 2012, he was named Rotarian of the Year. He served for 21 years as chairman of the Tree Commission for the City of Mobile and recently ended his third term as secretary of the Victorian Society in America, headquartered in Philadelphia. He is a longtime member of Government Street Presbyterian Church, where he recently completed a term as Clerk of Session.
In 1996, the City of Mobile’s Historic Development Commission awarded him the Elizabeth Gould Award for his research into architect George B. Rogers as well as Mobile’s lost architectural heritage. He is a 1997 graduate of the Newport (RI) Summer School conducted by the Victorian Society, a 1999 graduate of the Winter Institute of Decorative Arts held at Winterthur, a 2000 graduate of the Cooper-Hewitt’s French Decorative Arts Studies in Paris, a 2001 graduate of the London Summer School conducted by the Victorian Society, and a 2008 graduate of the Attingham Trust Summer School held in the United Kingdom, as well as the first Attingham Trust Study of the London Town House, held in 2010.
Since 1997, McGehee has been a regular lecturer for the Roads Scholar program (formerly Elder Hostel) hosted by the University of South Alabama, and has conducted walking tours of Mobile’s historic districts and Magnolia Cemetery.
His “Ask McGehee” column has appeared monthly in Mobile Bay Magazine for more than a decade and it has regularly won the annual Readers’ Choice Award. He also serves as editor for the Magnolia Messenger, the newsletter for the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery, which is published three times a year. Since 2016, he has appeared regularly in the “Lost Mobile” series on “Gulf Coast Today” on WPMI-TV.
McGehee is a native of Bronxville, N.Y., and a graduate of the Bronxville School and the University of Georgia, where he earned a BA in journalism with minors in business and history. He is married to the former Lucile Rutherford Smith of Monroeville. His daughter, Megan, currently lives in Athens, Greece.
Charles E. “Chuck” Owens, Director of Horticulture
Chuck Owens is the Director for Horticulture for Bellingrath Gardens and Home, where he has been employed since 1998. Before coming to Bellingrath Gardens, he worked for many years in the landscape installation and maintenance industry and in his family’s recreation/amusement business.
Mr. Owens is a native of Decatur, Ala., and a graduate of Auburn University in Landscape and Ornamental Horticulture. He is a member of the National Chrysanthemum Society and the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Association. He and his wife, Amy, are members of Oyster Bay Baptist Church. They live on a small farm with their three daughters in the Rosinton community in Baldwin County, Ala., where they grow pecans, satsumas and other citrus.
Barbara Smith, Display Horticulture Designer and Plant Recorder
Barbara Smith is the Display Horticulture Designer and Plant Recorder at Bellingrath Gardens and Home, where she has been employed since 2000. Before coming to Bellingrath Gardens, she worked in interiorscaping in metro Atlanta.
Ms. Smith is a native of Douglasville, Ga., and attended college at Floyd College in Rome, Ga. She and her husband, Adam Moss, a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Marines, live on Dog River and enjoy boating and participating in river cleanup events.