Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina

One Search Leads to Another

Foothills Conservancy’s founder, Susie Hamrick Jones, had just announced her plans to retire in August 2017 when the organization first contacted CapDev.

Susie was referred to us by Walter Clark because of her knowledge of the executive director search we had previously completed for his replacement at the Blue Ridge Conservancy in Boone, NC, and she was hoping for a similar process in Morganton, NC.

Many conservancies around the region seem to have had long-time, beloved, and sometimes even founding directors who were facing retirement among the anticipated Baby Boomer phase of nonprofit leadership retirements.

The Foothills Conservancy invited CapDev to meet with its newly formed Search Committee of eight board leaders as it began the work of this major search.

We presented both our Retained Executive Search and our Candidate Discovery & Screening (CDS) modified search option to the committee. As we discussed the options with them, it became clear that they wanted the full-service approach of the retained search option both to ensure a broad market penetration and for the benefit of the one-year guarantee.

CapDev’s experienced Senior Counsel, Pam Barnhardt, conducted the search. The search was a success and Andrew Kota was named executive director. Andrew was an internal candidate who had first joined Foothills as an AmeriCorps Project Conserve member in 2005.

At the time, the conservancy had been working to build its philanthropic focus and had set goals to build sustaining funds and easement/other endowment-type funds, a priority for the new incoming executive director to continue building.

So, after working to build up the development program and the team, Andrew identified the need to hire a development director, and again in 2021 Foothills Conservancy turned to CapDev to fill the role.

The leadership once again weighed their options and determined that the benefits of conducting a full retained search were important to them for this critical role.

The search started Spring 2021, commencing in the hire of Pam Hardin as Director of Development. Ideally suited for the role, Pam has deep mountain roots, which led to her love of the outdoors and the region. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University, a master’s degree from Western Carolina University, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University, bringing decades of fundraising experience to the Foothills Conservancy team.

“The Board of Foothills Conservancy is to be commended for their investment in searches that resulted in long-term gains for the organization through their selection of Andrew Kota and Pam Hardin. CapDev produced robust pools of candidates in both searches, and, with the aid of our counsel, these stellar choices became clear. A wise, committed board, aided by leaders like Andrew and Pam, will move Foothills Conservancy forward in positive ways for many years to come.”

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, “a nationally accredited regional land trust, is dedicated to working cooperatively with landowners, communities, and public and private conservation partners to preserve and protect important natural areas and open spaces of the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains and Foothills, including watersheds, environmentally significant habitats, forests and farmland, for this and future generations. Foothills Conservancy, a 501c3 nonprofit, serves eight counties: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Lincoln, McDowell and Rutherford and the upper basins of three major rivers: the Broad, Catawba and Yadkin.”