Friends of Dupont Forest gathered at Holmes Educational State Forest on April 20th for the 2024 Annual Meeting and elected six new board members.

The meeting also marked an end of an era, as Lucia Gerdes completed her last year on the board. Lucia stepped down as President last year after serving three years in the position. She guided the organization through COVID and ushered in the Master Recreation Plan. Under Lucia leadership we saw a dramatic increase in membership, volunteers, and committees members. We are so thankful for all of her hard work and dedication to help keep the water clean, the wildlife safe, and the trails awesome.

Former Presidents, Ericka Berg and Lucia Gerdes

Ericka Berg passed the proverbial baton to Al Beers as President and announced the new Executive Committee.

  • Al Beers, President
  • Matt Champion, Vice President
  • Patrick Kennedy, Treasurer
  • Ericka Berg, Secretary

Meet the New Board Members

Anna Chandler

Museum Communications Professional

Anna Chandler is a museum and nonprofit communications professional with a background in community journalism. She has been the Manager of External Affairs & Communications at the Museum of the Cherokee People since 2021 and serves on the board of the North Carolina Museums Council. Originally from Greenville, SC, Anna grew up exploring the mountains and currently resides in western NC after spending over a decade in the Lowcountry. She’s happy to be home in the mountains, where she’s an avid hiker, an expert thrifter, a chaotic but passionate home cook, and a musician.

Daniel Jessee

Experiences Program Manager, REI

Daniel grew up north of Atlanta, but his heart has always been in Western North Carolina. He and his wife have called Brevard home for the last three years. Daniel has worked for REI for 18 years, with experience in community outreach, events, partnerships, customer service, and outdoor education. He holds a masters degree in environmental policy and management from the University of Denver and has always been active in local outdoor advocacy organizations. In his spare time, Daniel is an avid mountain biker, hiker, trail runner and dog dad and loves covering big miles in DuPont with his wife, Julie.

Jennifer Nelson

Urgent Care/Family Medicine Physician – Roper Physician Partners

Jennifer recently moved to Brevard from Charleston, SC where she has practiced family medicine for the past 21 years, first as a major in the USAF and more recently as an Urgent Care doctor with Roper.

Her son got her involved with mountain biking 5 years ago and her passion for the sport has taken off. She is a coach with the SC National Interscholastic Cycling Association and can be found working at the medical tent during the race season. Her passion for mountain biking and her first love (hiking) is why she moved to Brevard. What draws her to DuPont is not only its natural beauty but also the sense of camaraderie fostered by the community of volunteers dedicated to its preservation.

James Perkins

Co-Owner – Adventure Grown Guides

James is an avid outdoor adventurer and guide-service owner living in Etowah, NC. He spends his time outdoors hiking, trail running, rock climbing, and mountain biking. James loves spending time in DuPont State Recreational Forest because of ease of access, incredibly maintained trail system, and the community that surrounds the forest. He considers himself lucky to have such a great area for recreation close to home and is grateful to have the opportunity to serve the community by being a Friends of Dupont Forest board member. 

Elizabeth Ruth

Real Estate Professional/ CLHMS, RSPS – Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks, Brevard

Born and raised in Asheville, Elizabeth has witnessed quite the transformation of the Western North Carolina landscape. Elizabeth graduated from Asheville High School and received her BA from Wake Forest University. After living in DC, VA, CO, and Northern Michigan, she returned to her native area, and settled in Brevard in 2018. She has two amazing sons, one practicing law and living in Asheville with his fiancé and the other gaining his Masters while acting as the GA for the Samford University Woman’s Basketball Team. Currently, Elizabeth enjoys her role as a full time agent with Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks in Brevard and Asheville. When not working, you will find Elizabeth enjoying time with her family and friends, and either hiking or biking all the many amazing trails in Western North Carolina.

Andrew Schmidt

Donor Engagement Officer – Pardee Hospital Foundation

Andrew was raised in a bicoastal Navy household, graduated from Sewanee with a BA in philosophy, and recently earned an MA from the liberal & interdisciplinary studies program at UNC-Greensboro. He fell in love with DuPont State Recreational Forest in 2005 while working at a neighboring summer camp. Andrew has nearly two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector & currently serves the WNC community as a Donor Engagement Officer for the Pardee Hospital Foundation.