Meet the Team

The White Pearl team strives to create lasting relationships for lifetimes. A contract with White Pearl means access to a dedicated team of landscape experts who will always look out for your best interests.
Click our profiles below to see why clients count on us to keep their properties looking great.

Kohler Brafford, Principal 

Kohler Brafford has loved working outdoors his entire life. As an eighth-grader, he got a summer job working on the grounds crew at Norwood School in Bethesda,
Maryland. He used his paychecks to buy landscaping equipment and start maintaining pool grounds in and around Potomac.

Kohler went on to major in horticulture and turfgrass management at the University of Georgia, with an emphasis on landscape contracting. He refined his craft at one of the most prestigious landscape design firms in the D.C. Metro Area before striking out on his own with Black Pearl Management, a landscape construction company. Now with White Pearl Management, Kohler aims to bring his detail-oriented management style to full-service maintenance clients.

Tom Kniezewski, Principal

Tom has always had a love for the outdoors and for plants. From the time he was eight years old, he was helping out on his neighbor’s farm in Pennsylvania. He came to Washington DC to attend American University where he earned his degree in Applied Mathematics. Even during college, he ran a small landscaping business to keep his hands in the dirt, but stopped when he graduated to accept a full-time office position related to his area of study.

After a very short time, Tom realized the “concrete jungle” atmosphere was not how he wanted to spend his days. Ultimately, he returned to the landscape industry where his passion resides.

Tom is married with two boys. He is an avid ultra trail runner and obstacle course racer. When he is not working or training, he loves to go hiking with his family and play in his landscape at home.

Phil Lavezzo, Client Representative 

Upon graduating with a degree in criminal justice from Northern Virginia Community College, Phil started as an entry level special police officer in Washington, DC, working in the narcotics division for Amtrak. He quickly moved up in the force and became a Lieutenant during his 4thyear of service. After his 10 year anniversary within the department, an old college friend approached him and discussed the possibility of starting a landscaping company. Although Phil has always loved gardening, he felt the need to improve his education in the field of horticulture before jumping in feet first. He completed a graduate program at the US Department of Agriculture before opening his company’s doors. His company became very successful and was a strong contender in the industry for 20 years. Phil sold the business and retired off into the sunset for a few years before realizing that retirement at such a young age was not for him. Phil joined the White Pearl team and has taken on the role of managing our clients’ properties, always with their best interests in mind. His main focus is on customer satisfaction and attention to detail. His humble demeanor allows him to connect with customers while delivering a professional product and excitement with every property. 

Phil enjoys his down time fishing and hiking with his dogs at his cabin in West Virginia.

Joni Desherow, Client Representative

Joni can honestly say she found her passion when it comes to landscaping. She has been in the “Green Industry” for over 20 years now and is still learning something new with each day. Flowers have become a passion of hers and she has always been fascinated by creating beauty in a landscape and maintaining that beauty for years to come. She channels this into her position with White Pearl and extends it to all aspects of the client care she provides. Her vast plant knowledge has had an amazing impact on the company and the overall results of each client’s landscape. 

Joni has raised two children, who are now off on their own pursuing their own passions. Her next challenge has been vegetable gardening. It has been a lot of work, but very rewarding with an occasional harvest of fruits and vegetables.

Sara Marks, Client Representative

Sara’s childhood obsession with plants led her to a degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech. Since then, she’s been working in the landscape industry in a number of different roles, from installation to garden centers to maintenance. You’ll find her happiest when she’s helping to further beautify your landscape. She has one daughter and her hobbies include gardening. 

Margaret Miley, Plant Healthcare Specialist
Brian Graham, Plant Healthcare Technician
M. Hoopes, Irrigation & Lighting Technician
Erick Ayala, Crew Leader
Elmer Ayala, Crew Leader

Thinking of his family and a more lasting world, Elmer decided to learn more about gardening and landscaping. He has over 11 years of experience in the field and enjoys every minute of it. He has a passion for plants and providing the best service to White Pearl clients. He enjoys working with his peers and dedicating himself to each project.   

Eder Gonzales, Crew Leader

Eder has always had a passion for gardening and working outdoors. He grew up farming with his father, which instilled an everlasting passion for plants. He takes great pride and enthusiasm in his work and is very meticulous. He has been called a “perfectionist”  by his peers on more than one occasion. He constructs one of a kind seasonal flower installations and takes care of all the important details when managing the landscape. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer and fishing, as well as cheering on Real Madrid. He attests that he is the father to the most beautiful daughter in the world!

Jen Schadoff, Public Relations

Prior to joining the Black Pearl team Jen earned her B.A. in Sociology from George Mason University and then earned her Masters in Education from Marymount University. She was in the education field but decided to change career paths and explore her passion for photography. Jen started a photography business 5 years ago and you can now see some of her work featured on White Pearl’s/Black Pearl’s websites and social media. Jen has also begun to delve into the realm of estimating and has become quite adept at wearing multiple hats for the company. When she is not in the office, or out in the field taking photos, she enjoys cheering on her favorite soccer team, Chelsea FC and hiking. 

Jose Anibal, Landscape Professional
Estella Cruz, Landscape Professional
Irvin Martinez, Landscape Professional
Andrew Tilley, Landscape Professional

Andrew has enjoyed being mobile and the outdoors for most of his memory. Having worked in several other industries, mostly in client-facing and service roles, he decided during the pandemic to change industries to become even more aligned with his passions and natural skills. White Pearl Management has provided an exciting and healthy transition into the landscaping industry, working with good, down-to-earth, and hard-working staff team. He has been gaining experience as a landscape manager, being hands-on and in the dirt with our talented crews getting the work done, while also building relationships with and communicating with clients and coordinating with staff members. When he’s not at work, he somehow often finds the energy to play lots of volleyball, flag football, or go for hikes with his wife and dog.

Simon Alvarado, Landscape Professional
Julio Davila, Landscape Professional
Ronald Francis, Landscape Professional
Manuel Martinez, Landscape Professional
Wilber Rodriguez, Landscape Professional
Julio Carballo, Landscape Professional
Mario Maradiaga, Landscape Professional
Brian Perez, Landscape Professional
Luis Argueta, Landscape Professional
Rafael Martinez, Landscape Professional