wagners in galapagos

The Wagner family posed for this photo in Galapagos last year. They are now thrilled to be back in Western North Carolina after a yearlong sabbatical in South America. From left to right they are Carrie, Bob, Benjamin and Adam. Bob is the new co-director at WNCA as of April 1.

April marks a milestone in Alliance history in that we are moving to a new and unusual leadership structure for nonprofits.

As of April 1, the Alliance is being led not just by me as executive director, but by me and new staff member Bob Wagner as co-directors.

Why the change?

Several reasons, most of which revolve around who Bob is and what he brings to us.

First, Bob brings expertise in our core land use program area through his leadership of and involvement in the Mountain Landscapes Initiative in the far western counties several years ago and the current GroWNC effort in the Asheville area. Second, Bob brings broad connections with community and elected leaders throughout Western North Carolina from his almost 10 years in the region. Third, Bob brings a deep history of working in and with nonprofits, creating innovative collaborations, working with funders, and empowering communities.

Bob gained his experiences through nine years as the vice president for programs at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, where he managed the grant making programs. Before that, he was with Habitat for Humanity for 10 years, mostly in Africa where he worked with local communities all over the continent to create Habitat programs.

This tremendous experience, and his passion for the natural beauty of our region, presented an irresistible opportunity as the Alliance continues on its path of bold and creative growth and increased impact.

What does this change mean and what will Bob bring that we dont already have?

Here are just a few examples:

* Expanded capacity for land use work;

* Increased presence and enhanced reputation throughout WNC;

* Expanded programmatic and administrative management abilities in that Bob will manage our public lands, development and communications staff. This will relieve some of my workload and allow me to focus more on transportation issues, water and energy advocacy, and local campaigns.

* Increased capacity to empower citizens and build leaders in communities across the region.

* Expanded programmatic and funding partners. Bob brings strong relationships with a wide range of community leaders and funders that the Alliance might never have otherwise or that would take years to cultivate. Since much of the Alliances envisioned future depends on increasing our base of funding support, as well as building strategic alliances with other nonprofits, local governments and community leaders across the region, the instant credibility and connections Bob brings will help us move forward.

* Increased capacity for strategic thinking and program expansion. With another leader and manager, and particularly one with Bobs success in developing innovative projects, the Alliance will have the ability to strengthen existing programs and create new ones as opportunities and needs arise.

I hope you will join the board and the staff in welcoming Bob and take the opportunity to get to know him at upcoming events. As strong as the Alliance already is, Bobs presence will increase our political advocacy power even more and advance our development of a membership base whose voice cannot be ignored.


Julie Mayfield, WNCA co-director