Internationally known and recognized for her excellence in the art form, Shaner began bonsai in 1983 in California. After ten years of study she obtained a 5 year apprenticeship with Sensei Yasuo Mitsuya, highly regarded Master of Gendai (contemporary form) bonsai training. She is the first non-Japanese and the first woman certified by the professional bonsai grower's branch of Nippon Bonsai Association. During her apprenticeship, she published a series of articles in Golden Statements magazine chronicling her training and adventures in Japan. Upon completion of her apprenticeship in 1994, Ms. Shaner has worked in bonsai on a full time basis. She has lectured and conducted seminars and workshops, at many National and International Conventions, while also working on many private collections throughout the United States. Ms. Shaner uses her knowledge and ability to find the "soul of the tree." Then, using creative and specialized techniques, she teaches her students the art and culture of bonsai in a clear and understandable way. Her critiques are filled with positive ideas about how to improve each tree. In addition to her teaching and private collection work, Kathy Shaner is the curator of the Golden State Bonsai Collection-North at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, which opened in the fall of 1999.
Continuing to share the talents of her mentor, Kathy Shaner was the headliner of the 43rd Annual Exhibit in 2013. Ms. Shaner has returned to Milwaukee to help at the Bonsai at Lynden Collection and with study groups.