Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Protecting the World's Oldest Mountains

SAHC Board of Trustees

Trustees are elected by the Conservancy’s general membership for a three-year term. After an initial term, a trustee may be re-elected to a second three-year term, but may serve no more than two consecutive terms. Current Board Members are:

  • Courtney Blossman, 
Asheville, NC
  • Nancy Edgerton, Asheville, NC
  • Lyman "Greg" Gregory, Asheville, NC
  • Jack Hamilton, Asheville, NC
  • Jim Houser, Charlotte, NC
  • Anne Kilgore, Kingsport, TN
  • Jay Leutze, Minneapolis, NC
  • Bill Lowndes, Asheville, NC
  • Rick Manske, Asheville, NC
  • Laura McCue, Asheville, NC
  • Jeff Needham, Kingsport, TN
  • Robbie McLucas, Asheville, NC

  • Kathy Singleton, Kingsport, TN
  • Milton “Buddy” Tignor, Jr., Asheville, NC
  • Patty Cunningham-Woolf, Asheville, NC
  • Mary Bruce Woody, Asheville, NC


SAHC Staff

Carl Silverstein, Executive Director

Carl joined the SAHC staff in 2000. He graduated from Stanford University in 1984 with a BA in History, and the University of Alabama Law School in 1988. Carl practiced law in Seattle before moving to Asheville in 1995. Carl serves on the Buncombe County Land Conservation Advisory Board and on the Claims Committee of Terrafirma Risk Retention Group. Terrafirma is a charitable risk pool created by the national Land Trust Alliance to insure its members against the legal costs of defending conservation interests.

Kristy Urquhart, Associate Director

Kristy Urquhart has been Associate Director for SAHC since 1997 and has served on the staff since 1991. She graduated from King College with a BA in Business/Economics and worked in orchard management in Ithaca, NY, before moving to Asheville in 1991. Kristy is very active with the Asheville Humane Society.

Lisa Fancher, Finance Compliance Director

Lisa joined the SAHC staff in 2011. She has a BSBA in Accounting from Mississippi College, and has 15 years of for-profit experience, including 9 years in the area of consumer finance. She relocated to western NC in August 2010. Lisa oversees the financial accounts of the organization.

Land Protection

Michelle Pugliese, Land Protection Director

Michelle joined the SAHC staff in 2007. Michelle previously served as the St. Simons Land Trust Director of Land Protection. She graduated from Lafayette College with a BA in Biology and from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University with a Masters of Environmental Management degree. Michelle manages the organization’s land and conservation easement acquisitions.

William Hamilton, Farmland Program Director

William joined the SAHC staff in 2005, and is focusing on helping families protect prime farmland for the future through methods that make sense financially. William earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College in 1999, and a Masters of Forestry from North Carolina State University in 2004.


Hanni Muerdter, Stewardship & Conservation Planning Director

Hanni is from Bethel in Haywood County, NC. In 2006-07, Hanni worked for High Country Conservancy in Boone, NC through AmeriCorps Project Conserve. She previously worked at: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, and for the Student Conservation Association. She received her bachelors in biology & environmental studies from Oberlin College, OH. Hanni joined SAHC in 2007 and oversees the organization’s program of monitoring and managing conservation easements and land we hold.

Sarah Sheeran, Stewardship Associate

Sarah joined SAHC in 2014, but has served on SAHC’s Land Management Committee since 2010 and has been a long-time volunteer. Sarah received her M.S. in Ecology from UNC-Chapel Hill and previously worked as the Education and Conservation Director at Navitat Canopy Adventures. She works with Hanni to assist landowners, monitor conservation easments, prepare baselines and care for our fee-simple properties.

Marquette Crockett, Highlands of Roan Stewardship Director

Marquette was raised on a farm near Cumberland Gap, TN and received her MS in Biological Science from East Tennessee State University. For the past 8 years, she has been the Wildlife Biologist of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Davis, WV. She was a founding member of the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative, a multi-agency group working to restore high elevation spruce-fir forest. Marquette joined SAHC in 2014 and facilitates SAHC's Roan stewardship program and serves as the primary land steward on SAHC-owned preserves in the Roan.

Chris Link, Community Farm & Food Associate

Chris manages the operations on the Community Farm, working to grow the infrastructure and the Beginning Farmer Incubator Program.
Hailing originally from the eastern shore of Maryland, he holds a degree in planning & landscape architecture from Clemson University, and has practiced in Asheville and in the Southwest. Previously, Chris farmed on a year-round CSA community land trust farm in New England, and then most recently a small, bio-intensive farm in Bostic, NC. Both farms were organic and diversified with rotational livestock, demonstrating a symbiotic, productive relationship Chris sees as the future of sustainable land management which serves both the environment and community.

Development and Engagement

Cheryl Fowler, Membership Director 

Born and raised in Waynesville, NC, Cheryl completed an Associate of Applied Science degree in Commercial Art and Advertising Design from Southwestern Community College of Sylva, NC in 1994. Cheryl worked in printing and design, and operated a graphic design business before joining the SAHC staff in 2001. Cheryl coordinates membership our membership program materials, planning and implementing special events, and public outreach.

Angela Shepherd, Communications Director

Angela joined the SAHC staff in 2010. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BA in Public Relations, spent 9 years in graphic design for advertising publications, and earned MA in Geography with a Planning Concentration from Appalachian State University. Angela coordinates SAHC’s media relations as well as online and printed communications tools.

Pauline Heyne, Donor Relations Manager

Pauline joined SAHC in 2013 to increase our fundraising capacity and launch our major giving program. Previously she worked at Arizona State University Foundation as Assistant Director of Women & Philanthropy and as the Development Coordinator at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Pauline received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications at Kent State University and her Masters of Public Policy at Arizona State University.

Project Conserve AmeriCorps Associates

Teagan Dolan, Americorps Land Protection Associate

Teagan hails from Morehead, Kentucky and earned her BS in Environmental Policy, Planning, and Law with a minor in Water Resources from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. Growing up near coal country greatly influenced her passion for conservation, balanced with a respect for land history. She is excited to bring that passion to the SAHC team.

Jesse Wood, AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate

Returning for her second service term with SAHC, Jesse earned her B.S. in Biology from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina in 2014.  Her hometown is Pickens, SC, though she lived abroad the first half of her life and grew up outside Washington, D.C. in Arlington, VA. Her most recent research focused on the conservation of Brown-headed Nuthatch in the Upstate of South Carolina.  She hopes to continue conducting field research by pursuing a Masters degree in the discipline of conservation/wildlife biology or ecology in the future.  

Spencer Scheidt, AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate

Spencer was born and raised amidst redwoods and fog in Northern California. As a Biology student and backpacking instructor at UNC Chapel Hill, he developed a love for the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Outside of the office you might find him clambering around at Rumbling Bald or fishing the streams in Pisgah National Forest.

Haley Smith, AmeriCorps Conservation Education & Volunteer Outreach Associate

Haley is a native of Asheville and grew up exploring the mountains of WNC before attending Washington and Lee University in Virginia to complete a dual degree program, earning a BS in Biology and a BA in Environmental Studies. Haley is excited to be working in her hometown to inspire the next generation of conservation advocates.

Upcoming events

"For Love of Beer & Mountains" Clawhammer Oktoberfest Release Party
Highland Brewing Company
Saturday, August 5

Salamander Night Hike
Rocky Fork State Park, TN
Saturday, August 20

Community Farm Workshop: Cattle Talk 2
SAHC Community Farm
Thursday, August 25

Community Farm Workshop: Feral Hog Management
SAHC Community Farm
Tuesday, August 30

Community Farm Workshop: Forage Management
SAHC Community Farm
August TBD

Community Farm Workshop: Farm Safety
SAHC Community Farm
Thursday, September 8

"For Love of Beer & Mountains" Clawhammer Hike
Pisgah National Forest, NC
Saturday, October 1

Community Farm Workshop: Mobile Walk-In Cooler Design/Build 1
SAHC Community Farm
Sunday, October 9

Community Farm Workshop: Mobile Walk-In Cooler Design/Build 2
SAHC Community Farm
Sunday, October 23

Community Farm Workshop: Whole Farm Planning
SAHC Community Farm
Thursday, November 13

Gray's Lily Leadership Circle Reception
SAHC Community Farm
Sunday, October 2

Bookwalter Binge Charity Gran Fondo
Black Mountain, NC
Saturday, October 29

Click here for our full calendar.

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