May 15, 2018 - 1:56 PM

Staff Spotlight: Nicole Toutounji

By Rebecca Merrill

Woman in beekeeping outfit next to hives and trees

Name: Nicole Toutounji
Title: Beekeeper in Residence
Neighborhood you live in: Upper West Side
Length of time you’ve been associated with the Cathedral: 5 years

What is your origin story?
After a long career as a photographer and photo editor at UNICEF’s New York headquarters, I took beekeeping classes, joined The Honeybee Conservancy, and apprenticed with seasoned beekeepers. I always hoped that my beehives would find their home on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine because I have always thought of the Cathedral as being a wonderful oasis of serenity and holiness. Ray Guyette, the former Director, Facilities, and Lisa Schubert, VP, Programming and External Affairs, helped make that dream come true. We have now two beehives on the Close. One of the stones that weighs the hive down has Ray’s name carved on it. Although I’m not a member of the congregation here, I could not think of a better place for a beehive than the Cathedral. The grounds are magnificent and the Cathedral cares about sustainability. There is something very blessed here—they keep God’s creation in good repair.

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