Leadership

Like the millions of visitors who travel the Blue Ridge Parkway each year, our trustees and advisors come to the board inspired by their personal experiences of the park. What connects them all is a dedication to ensuring that the journey continues to connect us all to the history, natural beauty, and culture of the mountains. With diverse backgrounds, these individuals bring a wealth of experience and expertise to help guide the organization into the future.

Trustees

Alfred G. Adams

Chair
Retired Attorney and Community Volunteer
Winston-Salem, NC
Alfred recently retired as a partner with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP. He has a background in education, and is a former high school teacher and coach and adjunct professor at Wake Forest University School of Law. He holds a bachelor of arts and a Juris Doctor degree from Wake Forest University. Alfred’s legal career has focused on all aspects of real estate transactions, and he practiced law in Asheville from 1973 until 1994, when he returned to Winston-Salem.
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Jack Betts

Vice Chair
Journalist, retired associate editor, The Charlotte Observer
Meadows of Dan, VA
Jack is the immediate past chair of the board of trustees. He retired in 2011 as associate editor of The Charlotte Observer after nearly 40 years in North Carolina journalism. He served in the Army, was Washington correspondent for the Greensboro Daily News, Roanoke Times and Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, was editor of North Carolina Insight magazine and was a member of the editorial board of the Observer, where he wrote daily editorials and blogposts and a weekly column. Jack was inducted into the N.C.
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Craig Lancaster

Treasurer
Cofounder and President of White Blaze Marketing
Blowing Rock, NC
Craig earned his MBA from Gardner-Webb University and is Cofounder and President of White Blaze Marketing, a full service marketing and video production agency located in Boone, North Carolina. He spent his youth fly fishing and hiking with his family in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Today, he enjoys hiking and exploring the mountains with his wife, Jessica. He also enjoys running and racing in half marathons and marathons. Some of his fondest memories are of spending part of his honeymoon on the Parkway and the various hikes he gets to enjoy often on the Parkway.
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Rebecca Reeve

Secretary
Retired Director of Evaluation and Learning at the North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness
Asheville, NC
Rebecca Reeve is the former director of evaluation and learning at the North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness (NCCHW) at UNC Asheville. In that role, she was dedicated to helping organizations identify the results of their programs and thus empowering them to tell their stories and obtain needed resources for further development. Reeve conducted ground observations at Kids in Parks trailheads across North Carolina. Before coming to the NCCHW, Reeve served as senior advisor for healthy schools in the North Carolina Division of Public Health.
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Paul Bonesteel

President, Bonesteel Films
Asheville, NC
Paul Bonesteel is the director and founder of Bonesteel Films, a full-service production company based in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Peter Givens

Retired, National Park Service
Vinton, Virginia
Givens spent 38 years in the U.S. National Park Service. In addition to more than 25 years as Interpretive Specialist on the Blue Ridge Parkway, he worked at Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Mammoth Cave National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Cowpens National Battlefield, and Booker T. Washington National Monument. 
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Billie Brandon Howell

President of Deer Valley Development Corporation
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Billie is the President of Deer Valley Development Corporation, a family owned business that has provided recreational opportunities for families of Watauga County and seasonal residents for more than 30 years.
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Jim McDowell

President of McDowell Hospitality
Blowing Rock, NC
Jim is president of McDowell Hospitality, owners and operators of The Mountainaire Inn and Log Cabins with his wife, Deborah. They have operated the inn and cabins in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, since 2006. Jim, an avid fly fisherman, and Deborah fell in love with the mountains, when their daughter Jennifer attended Appalachian State University.
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John Mitchell

Business and Community Development Director, Henderson County
Hendersonville, NC
John Mitchell is a public servant through and through, having dedicated most of his career to public administration starting with an internship for North Carolina State Senators Stan Bingham and Hamilton Horton in 2004 after graduating from UNC Asheville. He went on to earn his master’s from Western Carolina University. Since then, he has worked as the Governmental Relations Manager for Asheville’s Chamber of Commerce and as a Field Representative to United States Senator Richard Burr, a role in which he represented the senator in the 18 counties of Western North Carolina.
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Jim Newlin

Virginia
A native of North Carolina, Jim grew up in Burlington and received degrees from UNC at Chapel Hill. His career was in public service, primarily with the Fiscal Research Division staff of the N.C. General Assembly. He retired in 2003, and made his move to the Virginia mountains. He now lives adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 172. He is a board member of the New River Land Trust and a past member of the Floyd County, Virginia Economic Development Authority. His wife, Silvie Granatelli, is a professional potter.
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Jerry Starnes

Blowing Rock, NC
After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill and Emory University, Jerry spent most of his career in Texas. He has been a steel mill executive, a commercial developer, and a Blowing Rock Realtor. Along with traveling with his wife, Genie, and enjoying two grandchildren, Jerry would prefer to be playing golf and hiking the Parkway trails. The Blue Ridge Parkway and the enjoyment of the park by visitors  is a great responsibility for all of us.
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Cynthia Evans Tessien

Professor of Practice, Wake Forest University and Former CEO, Inmar, Inc.
Winston-Salem, NC
Cynthia Evans Tessien is the Reznick Group Faculty Fellow and a Professor of Practice in the School of Business at Wake Forest University. She and her husband, Bill, own and are Executive Directors of A Step Ahead Academic Centers LLC, a Clemmons, NC-based learning community providing one-on-one tutoring, home school classes and multi-sensory reading instruction for pre-kindergarten through high school students.
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Brad Wilson

Retired President and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of NC
Raleigh, North Carolina
Brad Wilson has a 40-year career in the practice of law, governmental service, and health care. Prior to becoming General Counsel to Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., in 1992, he practiced law in Lenoir, N.C., for 14 years. Wilson retired as President and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of NC after 22 years, where he held a variety of senior executive roles prior to becoming CEO in February 2010.  
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Jennifer Zuckerman

Director of Strategic Initiatives, World Food Policy Center, Duke University
​Durham, NC
Jennifer Zuckerman has dedicated her life to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians through thoughtful food and land policy.
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Council of Advisors

Becky Anderson

Becky Anderson Consulting, Founder – Handmade in America
Asheville, NC
Becky Anderson of Becky Anderson Consulting, Inc. serves as a consultant for cultural and economic development projects related to The Creative Economy. Most recently she served as Founding Director of HandMade in America, a community development organization located in Western North Carolina. HandMade in America works to implement environmentally sustainable economic solutions that emphasize the craft industry, enhance opportunities in the marketplace, and develop entrepreneurial strategies for the region’s artisans.
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W. Louis Bissette Jr.

Partner, McGuire, Wood & Bissette
Asheville, NC
Louis Bissette practices law in the areas of economic development, land use, and zoning. He is highly engaged in his community and has been honored with numerous awards, including the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Public Service Award and Wake Forest’s Distinguished Alumni Award. From 1895-1989, he served as the mayor of Asheville.
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Philip Blumenthal

Director of Wildacres Retreat
Charlotte, NC
Philip Blumenthal is the director of Wildacres Retreat, a conference center located one mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland, North Carolina. A lifelong philanthropist, he is the chairman and director of the Blumenthal Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina. Blumenthal is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, Conservationist of the Year by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Volunteer Service Award by Partners for Parks in Charlotte, and Outstanding Philanthropist in Conservation by the Roosevelt-Ashe Society.
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Dr. Greg Brown

Retired, Virginia Tech University
Asheville, NC
Greg received a bachelor of science degree in forestry from Iowa State University. He then received a masters degree in forestry and plant physiology from Yale University, and a PhD in plant physiology from Duke University. His career has been in research and teaching, having been on the faculty of several universities. He most recently retired from Virginia Tech where he served for 12 years as dean of the College of Natural Resources. He currently resides near Hendersonville, North Carolina, and is active in the Rotary Club of Asheville. He also remains active with the National Society of
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Hobie Cawood

Chairman-President Emeritus, Old Salem, Inc.; National Park Service (retired)
Lewisville, NC
Hobie is a native of Middlesboro, Kentucky and a graduate of Emory and Henry College, and has also has been awarded five honorary degrees. He served thirty-three years with the National Park Service in eight different assignments and was Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park (1971-1991) during the bicentennial era of the United States. See: “Celebrations! A Personal Memoir Commemorating America’s Bicentennial Era, 1971-1991″ by Hobie Cawood, Diane Publishing Company, 2007.  After retirement from the National Park Service, he became President of Old Salem, Inc.
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Bob Clark

Cone Family Scholar, Artist, Clark Gallery
Charlotte, NC
Bob began his association with the Parkway Foundation through his interest in the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park historically know as Flat Top Manor.  While summering in Blowing Rock during his youth Bob enjoyed riding the trails of the Moses H Cone Park on horseback.  Bob became impassioned with Flat Top Manor as he began to understand the estate’s fascinating past and associations with artist and historic figures while attending Appalachian State University.  Bob is an advocate on behalf of Moses H.
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Pat Shore Clark

Winston-Salem, NC
Pat grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and received her college degree from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After graduation, she went to Washington D. C. to work for Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr.  and worked with him for 18 years - including the Watergate Years when she was Chief of Staff. After the Senator retired, she worked for two years with General Foods Corporation, and then began working with Governor Jim Hunt in a Washington, D. C. Office for the State of North Carolina for 8 years. It was then time to return to North Carolina to work with R. J.
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Heather Cotton

Planning and Development Director, City of Marion
Marion, NC
Heather Cotton’s diverse service in the public sector is defined by her dedication to the effective use and preservation of culturally significant lands and structures. Beginning her career as a field archaeologist, she worked on site evaluations and excavations in Fort Drum, New York, and Belfast, Ireland, and parlayed that experience into her work as a post-grad researching climate change and land use in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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JoAnn Davis

Retired CEO, Hospice & Palliative CareCenter
Chapel Hill, NC
A North Carolina native, JoAnn graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a degree in education, before starting a preschool program, which she operated for eight years. She went on to study accounting and computer programming before joining Hospice and Palliative CareCenter in Winston-Salem.
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Dan Donahue

General Counsel, R. J. Reynolds (retired)
Winston-Salem, NC
A native of Boston, Ma., Dan moved with his family to Charlotte, where he grew up and graduated from high school. He has an undergraduate and a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill. He worked for a short time as a newspaper reporter at The Charlotte Observer between undergraduate and law school. Following his graduation from the UNC law school in 1968 he practiced as a civil defense trial lawyer in Greensboro for 10 years, and then as a partner with Womble, Carlyle, Sandridgre and Rice in Winston-Salem from 1978 until 1990. While there he was a national trial counsel for Ford Motor Co.
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Dr. Harvey Durham

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Appalachian State University
Boone, NC
Dr. Durham received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Wake Forest University and Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in mathmatics from the University of Georgia . He was associated with Appalachian State University for 39 years where he worked primarily in the area of administration and held such positions as Chairman of the Department of Mathematics, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Provost, Executive Vice Chancellor and Interim Chancellor.
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Joe Epley

Epley Consulting – Public Relations & Communication
Tryon, NC
A native of the North Carolina mountains, Joe Epley is globally recognized for his leadership in public relations.  His honors include North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, UNC’s School of Journalism Hall of fame, The Defense Information School’s Hall of Fame and the Gold Anvil, the highest recognition for lifetime achievement within the public relations profession.  He now lives in Tryon, NC after selling the PR firm he successfully managed and ran for nearly 40 years in Charlotte.  Joe is the past chair of the Polk County Economic Development Commission and serves on several board
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Broaddus Fitzpatrick

Attorney, Conservationist, Community Volunteer
Roanoke, VA
A retired litigating and estate planning attorney, Fitzpatrick works on land conservation, resource management initiatives and community service projects.  An active Elder of Second Presbyterian Church, Roanoke, he has also served as a disaster relief volunteer and coordinator throughout the Southeast.
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Brian Gulden

Attorney at Patla, Straus, Robinson & Moore, P.A.
Asheville, NC
Brian Gulden first moved to Asheville in 1990 to attend UNC Asheville. After graduating from UNCA, he attended Southern Illinois University School of Law. Subsequent to law school, he and his family returned to North Carolina. After working in Shelby, North Carolina, for five years, Gulden began his legal career in Asheville with Patla, Straus, Robinson & Moore, P.A. in 2006.
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Charles Higgins

Retired Director of the U.S. Office of Public Health
Hernando, Florida
Charles Higgins retired in November 2014 after serving in the U.S. Public Health Service for 24 years and working in public health for 37 years. Prior to retirement, Higgins was assigned to the National Park Service where he was the director of the Office of Public Health. His previous federal assignments included the Food and Drug Administration, CDC, and assisting the State of Wyoming in modernizing its state food safety system.
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Sean Higgins

Interpretation and Education Manager, North Carolina State Parks
Raleigh, North Carolina
Sean Higgins is the interpretation and education manager with the North Carolina State Parks system. During his eight years managing interpretive programs, curriculum, and exhibits, the North Carolina State Parks system has been recognized as the N.C. Environmental Education Partner of the Year and received two awards from the National Association for Interpretive Media for the Junior Ranger Program and the Lake James Holly Discovery Trail. Higgins holds a Master of Zoology from Miami University and a Bachelor of Biology from Virginia Tech. He is a N.C.
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David Holt

Musician, Artist
Fairview, NC
Four-time Grammy Award winner David Holt is a musician, storyteller, historian, television host and entertainer, dedicated to performing and preserving traditional American music and stories. Holt plays 10 acoustic instruments and has released numerous recordings of traditional mountain music and southern folktales. Holt is well known for his television and radio series. Currently, he is hosting the PBS series David Holt’s State of Music, featuring some of the regions finest musicians including Rhiannon Giddens, Steep Canyon Rangers, and Balsam Range.
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Raymond Hornak

Chairman, Forge Communications
Raleigh, NC
Ray is chairman of Forge Communications, a strategic communication and public relations consulting firm based in Raleigh, NC. He is a founding board member of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Ray is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America and is a past president of the society’s North Carolina Chapter and national delegate.
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Olson Huff, MD

Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, The Light Foundation
Black Mountain, NC
Olson is a semi-retired pediatrician and pediatric medical consultant to Mission Hospital in Asheville. He is a strong advocate for children's health and is active in the war on childhood obesity. He was instrumental in founding the "Kids in Parks" program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
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Cecil Jackson

Real Property Appraisal Manager for Mecklenburg County
Charlotte, North Carolina
Cecil Jackson is a Real Property Appraisal Manager for Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been employed with Mecklenburg County for more than 20 years, and has earned the International Association of Assessing Officers designations of RES and AAS. Jackson received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Appalachian State University. Upon graduating, he worked as a Real Estate Appraiser with Watauga County for four years. A native of the High Country, he spent many summers on the Blue Ridge Parkway throughout his childhood and into his early adult years.
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George Kegley

Business Editor, Roanoke Times (retired)
Roanoke, VA
George Kegley is a retired business editor of The Roanoke Times and an active Roanoke Valley volunteer. He wrote about the Blue Ridge Parkway when its headquarters was in Roanoke in the mid-1900s, and he formerly served on the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation board. A board member of the Western Virginia Land Trust and the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, he edits the Journal of the Historical Society of Western Virginia and the Virginia Lutheran. He and his wife, Louise, have a conservation easement, the only one in the City of Roanoke.
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Bob Lassiter

Retired Finance Manager, HanesBrands/Haeco Americas
Winston-Salem, NC
A North Carolina native, Bob graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and then pursued an MBA. He spent a 38-year career in various corporate finance positions, first in the consumer apparel industry and then in the vastly different aviation industry.
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Phil Noblitt

Former Management Assistant, Blue Ridge Parkway
Black Mountain, NC
Phil Noblitt began his Parkway career in 1987 as a district ranger.  He subsequently served for 10 years as the Parkway’s specialist for interpretation and education.  For several years prior to his retirement in 2007, he worked as a management assistant, coordinating public information and serving as the Parkway’s liaison with the travel and tourism community.  Phil is also author of Mansion in the Mountains, a history of Moses and Bertha Cone and Flat Top Manor.
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Bob Shepherd

Land of Sky Council (retired)
Asheville, NC
Bob Shepherd was born and reared in Ashe County, N.C.  He graduated from NCSU and received a masters degree (Economics) from Kansas State University. He served as a Lieutenant in the Army Reserve.  Following five years with the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., he began a career in regional planning and development, retiring in 2002. Since retiring, he has served as Interim Manager of Blowing Rock, Maggie Valley, Columbus and Tryon.
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Gary Stewart

President, Leading the Way, LLC
Matthews, NC
Gary Stewart retired from Woolpert, Inc., a national consulting engineering and design firm at the end of 2014. He served as the Chairman, and completed 35 years of service. He is now actively with two new and separate career aspirations: President of Leading the Way, LLC, and Commercial Real Estate Broker for RE/MAX Executive Commercial Division.
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Kent Tarbutton

Managing partner of Chetola Resort
Blowing Rock, NC
Kent Tarbutton is the president of Tarbutton Associates Inc., which specializes in hotel and resort management, commercial real estate development, and real estate management. He is the managing partner of Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Tarbutton is involved in many community initiatives, including serving on the board of the Appalachian State University Summer Festival, and is active in the university’s Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program in the School of Business. Together, he and his wife, Shelley, have two daughters, Morgan and Chelsea, and a son, Lennon. 
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Dr. Anne Mitchell Whisnant

Deputy Secretary of the Faculty, Office of Faculty Governance; Adjunct Associate Professor of History and American Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Anne Mitchell Whisnant is a university administrator and scholar who earned her Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1997. In 2006, UNC Press published her Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History, the most extensive serious study to date of the development of the National Park Service’s most visited site.
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Richard T. "Stick" Williams

President of Duke Energy Foundation
Williams is the past vice president of corporate community affairs for Duke Energy and president of The Duke Energy Foundation. He leads the company’s philanthropy through The Duke Energy Foundation, which focuses on improving the quality of life in the communities it serves.  Previously, Williams served as senior vice president of environment, health and safety, leading the group responsible for the company’s environmental compliance, and its health and safety programs.
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