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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Stratt Byars
Director of Camp Kanuga
Born and raised in north Alabama, Stratt spent the entirety of his life being transformed by the unique and sacred experience of the camp community. Stratt graduated from the University of Alabama-Birmingham with a degree in social psychology and philosophy, and has spent the past decade mentoring summer staffers and directing youth programs in Alabama and Tennessee. Stratt is no stranger to the mountains of western North Carolina, where he has spent considerable time camping, hiking, and paddling the abundant creeks and rivers. You'll most likely find him outside, on a river, or in front of his television rooting on the Alabama Crimson Tide or any of the five major Philadelphia sports franchises. Stratt joined Kanuga in 2021.
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Jane Cox Childress
Marketing & Communications Director
Jane joined Kanuga in 2020. Her professional background includes marketing and leadership roles in hospitality and education 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 as a member of Trinity Cathedral. 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 University.
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Elise Croak
Program Director, Camp Kanuga
Growing up in Atlanta, GA and Auburn, AL, Elise experienced growth and formation at Kanuga as a Guest Period attendee, summer camper, and camp staff member. Her experiences at Kanuga led her to pursue a degree in Recreation Management, Outdoor Experiential Education, and Sociology at Appalachian State University. During her time at ASU, Elise was on the board of the Emerging Professionals in Camp Club and she obtained her ACA Associate Visitor certification. After graduating, Elise moved to Hendersonville, NC to work as a Residential Caregiver at a therapeutic boarding school for teens. She is a cradle Episcopalian who has a deep love for entering into fellowship with the outdoors and the people around her. Mountain biking, cooking, music, and spending time with friends occupy most of her free time. Elise is called to fostering connection to God, each other, and Creation with those she serves, and is excited to bring that mission to Camp Kanuga.
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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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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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Andrew Holmes
General Manager, Kanuga Inn & Lodging
Andrew graduated with a culinary arts degree from Lee College and later attended Valencia College, earning a degree in hospitality management. He has served as corporate director of operations for First Hospitality, Interstate Hotels and Resorts, and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek; executive director of food and beverage and corporate chef for Paragon; area director of food and beverage for Kessler Collection; and president of Elevated Hospitality Co. He’s also a Certified Hotel Administrator and Level 2 Sommelier!

Andrew strives to provide an environment in which he provides a purpose for his staff. “If you are devoted to the mission, then Kanuga becomes more than just a place; it becomes a place where you feel connected,” he explains.

Aside from work, Andrew embraces the outdoors, and spends his free time volunteering for charitable organizations like Wounded Warrior and Habitat for Humanity.
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Lucas Newton
Director of Mountain Trail Outdoor School
Kanuga welcomes Lucas Newton back as the director of Mountain Trail Outdoor School (MTOS). Lucas received an M.Ed. in Outdoor Education from Georgia College and has facilitated outdoor experiences for students in western North Carolina since 2003, most recently as an adjunct professor for the Brevard College Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education Program. As a previous instructor and program director for MTOS, Lucas is passionate about welcoming students to learn outdoors in Kanuga’s beautiful 1,400-acre “classroom.” He feels grateful to be able to provide teachers and students with meaningful hands-on experiential learning experiences at MTOS.

Lucas finds joy in slow mornings, hiking, biking, and paddling with his dog, Townes, and immersing himself in a good book.
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Bill Norris
Executive Vice President for Advancement
Bill Norris joined Kanuga in the advancement office in July 2021. Over the course of his career in advancement, he has served institutions of higher education—most recently UNC Asheville—as well as public media and healthcare organizations. He is tremendously excited to be part of the talented and committed team during this exciting time in the life of Kanuga.

Originally from New Jersey, Bill and his family have been in western North Carolina since 2016. He holds an MBA from Western Governors University, a Master of Arts in Psychology from the University of West Georgia, and bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology from North Carolina Wesleyan College. Bill enjoys spending time with his wife, Sarah and daughter, Renn. In his spare time, he’s usually fishing, playing banjo, or woodturning.
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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
Ext. 2733
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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Michael R. Sullivan
President & CEO
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.