Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce its next executive director, Andrew Kota, who currently serves as associate director of Foothills Conservancy.
Kota was unanimously selected by the search committee after it conducted a nationwide search for the 22-year-old regional land trust’s next leader. He will officially become executive director on September 1, upon the retirement of founding Executive Director Susie Hamrick Jones.
“Our board is so pleased that Andrew will be taking the reins,” said Ron Beane, Foothills Conservancy’s board chair. “He is incredibly well-equipped for the job with 12 years of experience in other roles at Foothills Conservancy, and he has a great vision for the organization’s future. He knows our region inside and out and has a deep understanding of its importance. We look forward to working with him as he leads Foothills Conservancy to greater things in its next chapter.”
Born in Abingdon, Virginia, and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia, Kota lives in Morganton with his wife, Shannon, and children, Jake and Luke (pictured left: Andrew and Jake on Shortoff Mountain). He is a graduate of The Linsly School and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Guilford College, a Master of Science degree in forestry from Utah State University, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Appalachian State University. He has also earned a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University and has a North Carolina Real Estate Broker License.
As executive director, Kota will be responsible for the success of the conservancy’s work by ensuring that its land and water conservation programs and operations run smoothly and effectively, and that the conservancy adheres to the standards and practices required to maintain national accreditation. He will work with the board of directors to strategically guide the organization, maintain a sound financial base to sustain the organization, and develop and sustain major relationships with key conservation partners, landowners, and donors.
“Foothills Conservancy has built a strong legacy of conservation in this region and being selected as the land trust’s next executive director is truly an honor,” said Kota. “My family and I are firmly rooted in this community—we celebrate the culture and natural beauty of this region, and I feel a sense of duty to protect these wonderful resources. With our incredibly committed board of directors, experienced and professional staff, and strong community of supporters, I look forward to the opportunity to build upon the solid foundation and successes of the conservancy’s first two decades in the years to come.”
A valued member of Foothills Conservancy’s conservation program staff since 2005, Kota joined the land trust as a Project Conserve AmeriCorps intern and in 2006 assumed the position of protection and stewardship associate. He then served as stewardship director from 2012 until December 2016. In both roles, he was responsible for monitoring and stewarding more than 7,500 acres protected by private conservation easements and in conservancy preserves, and transacting conservation projects with a variety of public and private partners. This included securing millions of dollars in public and private funds for these projects.
In January 2017 Kota was promoted to associate director, a role in which he oversees Foothills Conservancy’s administrative and financial functions as well as its conservation program, comprised of land protection, conservation easement and preserve stewardship, and conservation planning.
Kota has led a variety of complex conservation easement and land acquisition projects, including Foothills Conservancy’s acquisition of its 1,500-acre South Mountains Headwaters Preserve; protection of 856 acres along National Wild & Scenic Wilson Creek as a new state game land and with a private conservation easement; conservation of the former Whippoorwill Farm in partnership with Fonta Flora Brewery and Lake James State Park; and acquisition of the conservancy’s largest agricultural conservation easement.