North Carolina

Meet the Team

We are a diverse team of scientists and conservationists united by a shared commitment and love for nature.

A group picture of all the North Carolina staff members. The group is standing in front of trees that have fall-like colors.
TNC NC Team NC Staff Group Photo © Sophia Torres

Media Inquiries: To schedule an interview with a member of our staff, please contact Debbie Crane, Director of Communications, at dcrane@tnc.org. 

Katherine Skinner headshot.
Katherine Skinner North Carolina State Director © Sophia Torres

North Carolina State Director

Katherine Skinner

Katherine Skinner joined The Nature Conservancy as North Carolina state director in 1986, managing eight chapter staff. Under her leadership, the program has grown to 47 people working across the state. The chapter has the support of more than 32,000 members. Skinner established and grew endowment funds to support TNC North Carolina, which currently total more than $42 million.

Under Skinner’s leadership, TNC in North Carolina completed four successful multi-year capital campaigns, raising more than $200 million to advance conservation. She has also been a champion of public conservation funding; her support was crucial to the creation of the state’s Land and Water Fund.

TNC's North Carolina chapter has protected more than 735,000 acres across the state, most of which have been transferred into public ownership for all to enjoy, including iconic places such as Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock and Jockey’s Ridge state parks. TNC is currently working in three North Carolina landscapes: the Southern Appalachians, longleaf pine territory stretching from the Sandhills to Jacksonville, and Northeast North Carolina. Skinner also championed the creation of the chapter’s comprehensive freshwater program, which spans from the source to the sea.

Under her leadership, TNC pioneered land conservation around the state’s military bases leveraging Department of Defense funding—an approach that serves as a national model for preventing development encroachment onto military facilities. TNC also embarked on a groundbreaking climate change adaptation work on peatlands in eastern North Carolina; rewetting peatlands, which have been drained and ditched for centuries, turns peatlands into carbon sinks rather than carbon emitters. TNC has also been a leader in the use of controlled burning to restore longleaf pine and other fire-adapted North Carolina forests.

The chapter owns and manages 100,000 acres with controlled burning, invasive species removal and other stewardship activities. The chapter also holds and monitors conservation easements on other privately owned lands and works with several state agencies to steward publicly owned tracts.

Skinner received a bachelor’s degree at Salem College and a Master of Business Administration at Vanderbilt University. As a staffer for U.S. Congressman Walter Jones on his committee staff, she shepherded legislation through the House of Representatives and addressed budget and appropriations issues. She has received numerous conservation awards, including the Governor’s Conservationist of the Year.

Chuck Peoples looking over the Roanoke River in North Carolina.
Chuck Peoples Deputy State Director, North Carolina. © Fauna Creative

Chuck Peoples, Deputy State Director

"I have been with TNC for 17 years, mainly as conservation director, but this fall I became the chapter's deputy state director. The most important thing I do is guide and support an incredible team of conservation professionals dedicated to their work, often under difficult field conditions. I am honored to work with them and help enable the chapter's collective conservation success."

Will Robinson headshot.
Will Robinson Director of Government Relations, North Carolina. © Courtesy of Will Robinson

Will Robinson, Director of Government Relations

“I head up our work at the General Assembly and with NC's members of Congress. My goal is always the same—taxpayer funding and government policies that promote stewardship of my home state's beautiful outdoor places.”

Debbie Crane headshot.
Debbie Crane Director of Communications, North Carolina. © Kelly Hoeltzel

Debbie Crane, Director of Communications

“TNC is doing wonderful work in my home state. My job is to tell folks about that work and how it affects their lives. I feel blessed to have this opportunity because TNC has protected many North Carolina places that are special to me. Hit me up if you have questions about our work. I am always eager to talk about TNC.”

Karin Horn headshot.
Karin Horn Director of Operations, North Carolina. © Courtesy of Karin Horn

Karin Horn, Director of Operations

“I'm grateful to support my colleagues across North Carolina. I help out these dedicated professionals with human resource and operations needs. Our chapter consists of more than 40 full- and part-time staff, as well as seasonal burn crews and interns.”

Nelda Siemion headshot.
Nelda Siemion Director of Philanthropy, North Carolina. © Courtesy of Nelda Siemion

Nelda Siemion, Director of Philanthropy

“I am privileged to work for The Nature Conservancy, one of the most trusted and respected nonprofits in the world, alongside dedicated professionals committed to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Ours is the most profoundly important global mission of our time. As director of North Carolina’s philanthropy team, I lead knowledgeable fundraisers who are experts in all facets of charitable giving to support conservation here in North Carolina and around the world. From annual funding of ongoing operations to grants that expand foundational programs to gifts that seed new initiatives, we work closely with donors to help them realize their charitable goals. There are many ways to give: by phone, by mail or online. You can make a gift by check, by credit card or through a donor-advised fund; you can give gifts of stock or mutual funds, even cryptocurrency, and we encourage you to consider including TNC in your estate plans. TNC is also fortunate to receive many gifts of real estate—for conservation and as trade lands that are sold with the proceeds directed to our conservation mission. Please reach out; we are here to help!”

Program Directors

More of Our Team

Click here to learn more about each profile.
 
  • Adam Warwick, Southern Blue Ridge Stewardship Manager
  • Aaron J. McCall, Northeast Regional Steward
  • Brian Parr, Southern Blue Ridge Stewardship Assistant
  • Carmella Stirrat, Fire Manager
  • Denise Bates, Philanthropy Program Manager
  • Dana Carpenter, Assistant Land Steward
  • Eric Soderholm, Coastal Wetlands Restoration Lead
  • Erick Rietschier, Sandhills Stewardship Manager and Burn Boss
  • Greg Cooper, Conservation Forester
  • Genevieve Joseph, Associate Director of Philanthropy
  • Hervey McIver, Longleaf Pine Protection Director
  • Jennifer Lamb, Conservation Coordinator
  • Jodie LaPoint, Director of Conservation Planning and Operations
  • Jolene Schira, Director of Finance
  • Jeff Marcus, Longleaf Pine Restoration Director
  • Karen Miller, Finance Specialist 
  • Mike Horak, Sr. Associate Director of Philanthropy
  • Mark Steudel, Loyal Donor Officer
  • Matt Greene, Sandhills Land Protection Specialist 
  • Margaret Fields, GIS & Invasives Coordinator
  • Michelle Ly, Conservation Coordinator
  • Nathan Burmester, SECP Stewardship Manager
  • Nancy Lewis, Grant Specialist 
  • Nancy Sears, Sr. Associate Director of Philanthropy
  • LaDonna Lindgren, Philanthropy Program Specialist 
  • Lauren Goodman, Conservation Coordinator
  • Lora Eddy, Conservation and Resilience Specialist
  • Pamela Evers, Associate Director of Donor Engagement 
  • Rhonda Sturgill, Conservation Cordinator
  • Sophia Torres, Creative Content Manager
  • Sarah Hecocks, Sandhills Conservation Planner
  • Sam Heitzer, IT Tech
  • Shawna Alkon, Executive Assistant and Trustee Liaison
  • Tommy Caggiano, Resilience and Climate Policy Manager
  • Zach West, SECP Land Steward
Longleaf pine savanna at Green Swamp Preserve.
Green Swamp Preserve Longleaf Pine Savanna. © Kristin Rahn