Foothills Conservancy Executive Director Susie Hamrick Jones to Retire

MORGANTON, NC—Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina’s executive director Susie Hamrick Jones will retire, effective September 1, 2017. Hamrick Jones was among Foothills Conservancy’s founding board members in 1995 and has led the organization as its executive director since 1997.

During her tenure, Foothills Conservancy has grown from a small grassroots group that coalesced to protect the heart of the South Mountains, into a highly respected, nationally accredited land trust that has protected more than 51,000 acres across the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and their foothills.

“One of my life’s greatest privileges has been to be among Foothills Conservancy’s founding board members and then to lead this regional land trust as executive director,” said Hamrick Jones. “I have been blessed to work with gifted and dedicated staff members and deeply committed board members over the years. My colleagues in North Carolina’s land trust community and the natural resource agencies we partner with have inspired me and guided me along the way. Most important of all are the many conservation-minded landowners who have worked with Foothills Conservancy to achieve a shared goal of permanent conservation for some of our state’s most cherished and important places—to them I offer my sincere gratitude. My departure stems from my personal desire to spend more time with family and friends, and to continue exploring the places I’ve helped protect during my time with Foothills Conservancy.”

With Hamrick Jones at the helm, Foothills Conservancy has added more than 14,000 acres to North Carolina’s state parks at Lake James, Chimney Rock, and South Mountains; 25,000 acres to state game lands in the South Mountains and along National Wild & Scenic Wilson Creek, the Linville River, and the Johns River; and 3,600 acres to Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The conservancy now also manages more than 3,500 acres of private conservation easement lands and more than 4,000 acres in four conservancy-owned preserves.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I want to extend our utmost gratitude to Susie for her decades of impassioned service to Foothills Conservancy and to our region,” said Foothills Conservancy Board Chair Ron Beane. “Thanks to her vision and commitment, generations to come will be able to enjoy the waters, forests, wildlife, and scenic beauty at places like Wilson Creek, Lake James, Chimney Rock, Catawba Falls, and the South Mountains. Because of her exceptional leadership, Foothills Conservancy is well positioned for continued success preserving and protecting the lands and waters of the Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills region.”

The Foothills Conservancy Board of Directors has retained Capital Development Services, a fundraising counsel and executive search firm based in Winston-Salem, to conduct the search for the conservancy’s next executive director. The executive director position announcement will be disseminated widely, including on the Capital Development Services website:, and nominations and applications are welcome.

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina is a nationally accredited, nonprofit regional land trust based in Morganton. The conservancy works cooperatively with landowners and public/private conservation partners to preserve and protect significant natural areas and open spaces. Focus areas include watersheds, forests and farmland across the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills in eight counties: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Lincoln, McDowell, and Rutherford. Since 1995, Foothills Conservancy has protected more than 51,000 acres, including lands added to South Mountains, Lake James and Chimney Rock state parks; Wilson Creek, South Mountains and the Johns River state game lands; Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Information about Foothills Conservancy, including ways to support its work, can be found online at or by calling 828-437-9930.