The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is proud to announce the appointment of new officers and the addition of members to its board of trustees and council of advisors, including Kent Tarbutton and Marcia Greene of Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock.
With diverse backgrounds, these individuals bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the nonprofit’s leadership.
At a November board meeting, former secretary and retired editor Jack Betts of Meadows of Dan, Virginia, was named chair of the board of trustees. Wake Forest University professor Cynthia Evans Tessien of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will serve as vice chair. Dr. Olson Huff of Black Mountain, North Carolina, will serve as secretary. The Foundation also welcomed Alfred G. Adams of Winston-Salem and Craig Lancaster of Fletcher, North Carolina, to the board of trustees.
The council of advisors added several new members: Phillip Blumenthal, Marcia Greene, Charles Higgins, Sean Higgins, Lee Minor, Rebecca Reeve, Kent Tarbutton, and Dan Wells.
“We are so fortunate to welcome new board members who are deeply committed to the safekeeping and betterment of the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Foundation. “Each member brings a breadth of experience that strengthens our multifaceted approach to preserving the Blue Ridge Parkway.”
Betts expressed his commitment to and hopes for the Parkway. “Nearly half a century ago I fell in love with the Blue Ridge Parkway’s magnificent vistas and charming lodges, but I’m saddened that some facilities are shuttered and roadside overlooks overgrown,” he said. “The good news is that the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, working with the National Park Service, other nonprofit groups, and many individuals, has made a huge difference in the backlog of maintenance and building of new facilities. I’m excited about the opportunities ahead to continue polishing one of the brightest gems in the National Park System – the Blue Ridge Parkway.”
During the meeting, Michael Hobbs, director of communications at UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Education, and community volunteer Anne Barnes were honored for their service as trustees as they completed their terms. Both now join the council of advisors. Outgoing board chair Broaddus Fitzpatrick and vice chair Gary Stewart will continue to serve on the board of trustees.
The Foundation is the primary private fund-raising organization for the Blue Ridge Parkway, providing support for much-needed projects along the 469-mile route, including historical and cultural preservation, environmental protection, visitor amenities, and educational outreach. For more information, visit brpfoundation.org.
Board of Trustees
Chair Jack Betts retired in 2011 as associate editor of The Charlotte Observer after nearly 40 years in North Carolina journalism. During his career, he served as a Washington correspondent for the Greensboro Daily News, Roanoke Times, and Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and the editor of North Carolina Insight magazine. As a member of the editorial board of the Observer, he wrote daily editorials, blog posts, and a weekly column. Betts was inducted into the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006 and honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He also served in the Army. He and his wife, Martha, live a few miles east of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia, where he writes Rocky Knob Blog (www.rockyknobblog.blogspot.com). Betts also pens magazine articles and provides editorial services at Rocky Knob Writery LLC.
Vice chair 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, N.C.-based learning community providing one-on-one tutoring, homeschool classes, and multisensory reading instruction for pre-kindergarten through high school students. Before joining the university, Tessien worked at Inmar, Inc., an intelligent commerce solutions provider for retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers, serving as CFO, president and COO, and CEO, and also at Ernst & Young. A Certified Public Accountant and member of the AICPA and NCACPA, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from Wake Forest University. With a cousin, Cynthia and Bill co-founded Enrich the World, Inc., an educational support organization for schoolchildren and teachers in an environmentally protected region of Honduras. Cynthia is a member of the board of directors of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina. Cynthia and Bill are parents to three children, Genya, 26; Billy, 13; and Tommy, 11.
Secretary Olson Huff 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. Huff was instrumental in founding the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program, which introduces kids and families to the joys of the outdoors through adventure guides at parks across the country. He also serves as the vice chair of the board of directors of The Light Foundation.
Alfred G. Adams is a partner in the Winston-Salem office of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP. Adams is a former high school teacher and coach and a former adjunct professor at Wake Forest University School of Law. He holds Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from Wake Forest University. Adams’ legal career has focused on all aspects of real estate transactions and before moving back to Winston-Salem in 1994, he practiced law in Asheville for 21 years. He has been active in the revitalization of downtown Winston-Salem and serves on the board of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter; as chair of Winston-Salem Business, Inc., the economic development entity for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County; as a member of the Executive Committee of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership; and as chair of the Downtown Winston-Salem Foundation. In 2011, he was named a Citizen Lawyer by the North Carolina Bar Association in recognition of his years of community service.
Craig Lancaster is a sales and marketing coordinator for Mahle Motorsport in Fletcher, North Carolina, and holds an MBA from Gardner-Webb University. 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 is an avid runner, racing in half marathons and marathons.
Council of Advisors
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.
Marcia Greene has been the director of marketing at Chetola Resort for 18 years. She started her career at The Plaza Hotel in New York City following her graduation from the University of Bridgeport. Later, she became the vice president of sales and marketing for a chain of oceanfront hotels in Florida. Greene has served on the board of High Country Host, the Boone Chamber of Commerce, the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce (current board member), Blowing Rock Winterfest, and the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival. She was the chairman of the High Country Host marketing committee, and has partnered with several organizations promoting tourism in North Carolina, including Visit NC, UNC-TV, the Orvis Company, Our State magazine, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, Childress Vineyards, and Bob Timberlake, Inc. She is the co-chairperson of the marketing committee for the High Country Partnership.
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. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Carolina Raptor Center, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Central Piedmont Community College, and numerous other organizations.
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. Certified Environmental Educator and a Certified Interpretive Trainer with the National Association for Interpretation. He has previously served as a 4-H youth development agent, director of school programs with the National Audubon Society, and conservation program manager for the San Francisco Conservation Corps. Higgins served on the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks Advisory Committee from 2011 through 2015.
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. Higgins began his career as the Converse County Wyoming sanitarian, worked as a quality assurance supervisor for Safeway Stores, and then as a public health investigator for the Denver Department of Health and Hospitals before joining the U.S. Public Health Service. Higgins earned a Master of Science in Environmental Health from Colorado State University.
Lee Minor is retired after an academic career as a mathematics professor at Western Carolina University. A native of Arkansas, Minor’s interest in national parks began during a summer job with a concessionaire at Glacier National Park in 1965. He discovered the Blue Ridge Parkway shortly after moving to North Carolina in 1968. His interests also include responsible environmentalism and humane treatment of animals. His favorite locations along the Parkway include the Graveyard Fields-Black Balsam Knob area and Cowee Mountains Overlook. Minor resides in Sylva, North Carolina.
Rebecca Reeve is the director of evaluation and learning at the North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness (NCCHW) at UNC Asheville. She is 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 has 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. She has held frontline positions in multiple training and educational settings including worksite health promotion, public health, and teaching in public schools and universities. Reeve’s work with communities has been recognized with state and national awards. For her 50th birthday, she hiked the entire 2,168 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Reeve holds degrees in physical and health education from James Madison University and earned her doctorate in evaluation research from the University of Virginia.
Dan Wells, a native of Petersburg, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Military Institute and the University of Virginia. After serving in the Army, he began his business career and worked with several large companies prior to retiring in 2011 from Chick-fil-A. He serves as chair of the Asheville chapter of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, working to maintain the facilities and the natural beauty for others to enjoy. His love for the outdoors has contributed to his passion for the Parkway.