Putting a Face to the Name

Our staff makes Kanuga the wonderful place it is.


The Kanuga staff is comprised of skilled individuals dedicated to serving our guests and sustaining our grounds, community, and programs.

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Kate Bakko
Lead Hospitality Specialist
Ext. 2811
On the Kanuga staff since 2003, Kate Bakko is a familiar voice and friendly face to many guests as they plan a trip to and arrive at Kanuga. She spent three years as a part-time Front Desk clerk before taking a full-time role in reservations in 2006. She brings an extensive background in the human services field, having spent 24 years working with adults with disabilities. "I enjoy watching what Kanuga means to so many of our guests and hope our mission will continue to inspire people to find peace in our community for years to come," she says.
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Jane Cox Childress
Marketing & Communications Director
Jane joined Kanuga in 2020. Her professional background includes management and leadership roles for Carolina Day School, Biltmore, and the NC Youth Camp Association, for which she served as executive director. Jane was born in Winston-Salem and grew up in Columbia. She is a cradle Episcopalian whose first introduction to Kanuga was as a camper at age six. Jane is most at home in the natural world—she loves horses, hiking, paddling, and swimming (especially in mountain lakes!). She is an avid reader and sometime singer. Jane lives with her husband, Vince, in Asheville. They have three children: a son at Sewanee, a son at Carolina Day, and a daughter at Western Carolina.
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Clint DeWitt
Environmental Projects Manager
Ext. 2823
Clint DeWitt joined Kanuga in 2006 as an instructor for the Mountain Trail Outdoor School. Now serving as Kanuga's environmental projects manager, Clint brings his passion for learning and environmental stewardship to this important role. His responsibilities include Kanuga’s trail system, its solar hot water systems, the organic garden, as well as other green initiatives. In addition, Clint serves as an administrator for MTOS. Originally from Black Mountain, NC, he graduated from Brevard College with a degree in wilderness leadership and experiential education.
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Will Drosick
Advancement Operations Specialist
In August 2019, Will joined the Kanuga Advancement Department but prior to that he had been a part of the Camp Kanuga 2019 summer staff. He is excited about the opportunity to continue serving in a new role. Prior to Kanuga, Will graduated from App State with a Bachelor's in Business focusing on Management. Outside of working at Kanuga, Will thoroughly enjoys the outdoors and values sustainability.
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Jim Hackney
Executive Vice President for Advancement
Jim is a native of North Carolina, a collector of pottery and a Renaissance man that worked nearby Kanuga as a teen at Camp Tekoa. After serving as a development officer at his alma mater, Wofford College, he led advancement at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. He then joined one of the nation’s premier capital consulting firms, Alexander Haas of Atlanta. After spending almost two decades in that position and assisting hundreds of clients throughout the United States, he joined the advancement efforts of Yale University at Yale Divinity School where he served for over five years before joining the Kanuga team in June 2019. Jim spends his spare time with his husband Scott and their golden retriever Beecher,
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Jimmy Haden
Executive Vice President for Mission
Ext. 2810
Jimmy joined Kanuga in 1993 from the Adams Mark Hotel in Charlotte and is dedicated to the Kanuga community and its mission. He is a graduate of East Carolina University with a BS in communications and minor in business administration. After more than 24 years on staff, serving six summers and attending Kanuga since infancy, there aren't many areas of Kanuga that Jimmy hasn't touched. He brings to Kanuga extensive experience in employee engagement, executive leadership, hospitality and quality service. Jimmy works collaboratively with the President contributing strongly to advancement, program development and the overall culture of Kanuga. A cradle Episcopalian with an active spiritual life, he serves as an ambassador of the mission and vision of Kanuga and represents the organization broadly throughout the community and wider church. Jimmy and his wife, Catherine, are the proud parents of James. In his spare time, Jimmy enjoys working with his hands, exploring the outdoors and reading history books.
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Dwayne Owens
Property Manager
Dwayne Owens became the Property Manager at Kanuga in March 2019. He brings to Kanuga almost twenty years of experience as a farm manager, operations manager and grounds maintenance worker. His most recent position prior to Kanuga, was at Buysod USA, where he managed all aspects of running two large turf farms. He also worked at Apple Wedge Packers and Cider as operations manager, The Biltmore Estate in maintenance, and for twelve years at Turf Mt. Sod in Hendersonville as farm production manager, shop manager and field manager.
Dwayne is a North Carolina Certified Turf Professional, and studied at Catawba Valley Community College (Hickory) where he completed two 2-year programs, one in horticulture and a second in turf grass. He has several other professional certifications related to food safety. In his role as Grounds Manager, he truly enjoys caring for the land that has been entrusted to him. In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing and hiking, as well as football. Go Chiefs!
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Barry Phillips
Director of Food Service
Barry Phillips came to Kanuga in 1994 as the assistant manager of the kitchen and was promoted to food services director in 2000. Embracing Kanuga's commitment to environmental stewardship, he works with local produce distributors to supply Kanuga's dining hall with seasonal locally grown fruits and vegetables whenever possible. “I love the peaceful Christian community at Kanuga,” he says. “I enjoy ensuring that guests enjoy every aspect of Kanuga, but especially the food and service they receive while here.”
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Carrie Privette
Chief of Staff
Carrie Privette joined Kanuga in January 2019 and was promoted to Chief of Staff in October 2019. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Carrie made her home in North Carolina during and after college, with degrees from Central Carolina Community College and Meredith College. She has spent most of her career working for non-profits in North Carolina. Carrie has had stints with Goodwill Industries, the United Way, American Red Cross and Kramden Institute in North Carolina. She relocated to Boston in 2011, where she worked for The Greater Boston Food Bank, The Neighborhood Developers, and Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger. Throughout her career, Carrie has had roles in multiple areas, including corporate relations, operations, development and communications. Prior to coming to Kanuga, she managed Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger, the oldest and longest-running pledge walk in the country, with 30,000 participants in 2016 and 2017.
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Bill Schneckenberg
Senior Staff Accountant
Born in Wisconsin, but spending most of his youth in Orlando, Florida, Bill graduated from the University of Central Florida with an accounting degree in 1988. Bill has two grown children who are still living in Florida, and parents who live in Greenville, SC, with whom he enjoys spending time with when he’s not at work. Bill moved to Hendersonville with his then fiancé, Sean, in October of 2015 and started his position at Kanuga as Staff Accountant in April of 2016. Over the next year and a half, he quickly realized what a special place this is and hosted his wedding reception in November of 2017 at Perry Pavilion on the Bob Campbell Youth Campus. During this same time, Bill also completed construction of his permanent home in the mountains for he and his wife to enjoy for many years to come. Bill plans on many weekends filled with Green Bay Packers or UCF Knights football, cornhole, barbecues, woodworking and time with family and friends.
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Derek Stapleton
Chief Financial Officer
Derek came to Kanuga as Chief Financial Officer in August of 2018. A graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Financial Management and post-secondary education received at the Wharton School of Business—University of Pennsylvania and the Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business—Georgia Institute of Technology, he brings strong leadership and extensive management experience in the areas of operations, finance, accounting and information technology.

His experience includes being the Corporate Controller at Staubil—North America, a multinational manufacturing company (based in Duncan, SC) and CFO and Co-Director of Operations at Habersham Metal Products Company in Cornelia, GA. In addition, Derek has worked for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith (Greenville, SC) and UBS Wealth Management in Atlanta.

Derek oversees Kanuga’s Finance, Sales/Business Development, Human Resources, Facilities Management and IT Departments. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife Deven and three children.
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Elliott M. Suess
Event Coordinator
Ext. 2731
Elliott Suess joined Kanuga in 2019 as one of the Guest Services members, and then rose to take on group responsibilities in early 2020 as an event coordinator. Tending to the needs of those around him, Elliott strives to create a comfortable and fun atmosphere wherever he goes. Before starting at Kanuga, Elliott graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelor’s degree in Art & Design, a minor in Psychology, and playing trombone in the band. You may also see him in downtown Hendersonville as a shop assistant for Choy’s Flowers, a local flower shop. Elliott stays busy in his free time by reading, playing with his cats, and creating art for his small business.
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Michael R. Sullivan
Michael Sullivan became Kanuga’s 10th president in November 2016. In his first years, he has built upon the historic traditions of this special place while also guiding us to think more strategically about our future.

A native of Seneca, South Carolina, Michael holds a Master of Divinity from The University of the South–Sewanee, Tennessee; a Juris Doctor cum laude, from the University of South Carolina–Columbia, South Carolina; and a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude, Wofford College–Spartanburg, South Carolina (Phi Beta Kappa).

“Sometimes I pinch myself when driving on property. We have inherited such a spectacular place on this planet, a place used for centuries to gather people. From the ancient indigenous people of this land to the founding of present-day Kanuga in 1928, our inheritance is truly inspiring. This is the place where people dared to gather everyone as they were created to be, a place that seeks to honor and respect all whoever they are and where ever they might come from. I get to work with people from literally all over the world while living and breathing in the beauty of Western North Carolina. Our past has been tremendous, but our future is all the brighter."

Michael is the author of two books and numerous articles. Windows into the Soul and Windows into the Light, both published by Morehouse, a division of Church Publishing, explore the place of art in spirituality. He has served on numerous boards, most recently Regent, University of the South (Sewanee) and the Board of Directors of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes.

In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, fitness, fishing, hiking, and writing.
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Miriam Walsh
Ext. 2801
Miriam started coming to Kanuga before she can remember, as a guest period participant, Camp Kanuga camper, youth conference participant and later staff member. She graduated from UNC–Asheville in 2001 with Bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and English Literature. She also has a degree in Culinary Arts from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont; the pursuit of which inspired her to move to wine country in California. In the fall of 2010, she returned to her beloved NC mountains for good. During a visit with her parents during Autumn Guest Period shortly after her return, she discovered the accounting department needed some temporary help. Temporary turned into permanent, and she has risen through the department to her current position as Accounting Manager.

When Miriam is not busy with her son Declan or cooking a meal for friends, she is pursuing other creative outlets such as knitting, dance, or music.
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Stephanie Watts
Hospitality Manager
Ext. 2830
Stephanie joined Kanuga in 2013 in the Guest Services department, building her leadership and management skills while progressing towards her role as manager. She has a passion for hospitality and enjoys leading her team to serve Kanuga guests. Stephanie holds a master’s degree in instructional technology from Appalachian State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina–Asheville.