Kanuga’s Staff Welcomes You


We are dedicated to serving our guests, sustaining our grounds, building up the Kanuga community,
and creating programs that connect all people with each other, nature, and the Creator.

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Kate Bakko
Reservations Manager, Kanuga Inn & Lodging
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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Aelah Bardelmeier
Mountain Trail Outdoor School Program Director
Aelah (pronounced like Kayla without the K) has a strong background in mentorship and spiritual direction for young adults, both locally in Brevard and on the west coast in California. She has a master's degree from Princeton Theological and served as a program director in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio and interfaith-chaplain at Xavier University in Cincinnati. She also served as a science-and-experiential-education teacher at Forest Ripple School near Brevard. Mountain Trail Outdoor School (MTOS) and Kanuga benefit greatly from her various professional experiences.

Aelah leads day-to-day operations of MTOS, managing staff, building relationships with schools, and developing curriculum.
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Paula Benson
Group Sales, Kanuga Inn & Lodging
Paula began her long 40+ year career in the Hotel/Hospitality Industry at the age of 18 beginning with the Atlanta Airport Hilton. She gained extensive knowledge with the Omni International Hotel in Atlanta, Windy Hill Hilton, and Peachtree Corners Hilton. She moved to Destin, FL in 1988 and was with the upscale Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort & Spa for 20+ years. In 2009, the mountains called her to 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa, then Rumbling Bald Resort.

She has served in many roles, including Director of Event Planning, Director of Weddings & Special Events, Director of Sales, Sales Manager, Conference Services Manager, and Banquet Manager. Paula strives to bring her knowledge and standards to her work to achieve the best for her clients and groups, while also caring for her teammates, employer and property.

Paula enjoys cooking, being with family and friends, and her two fur babies–cats Fred and Allie.

Paula says “Kanuga is such a very special place. A place for self-reflection, memories, and fun. I am honored to be a part of Kanuga and the team, and excited for the future and wonderful things to come”.
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Deven Blake
Registrar, Camp Kanuga and Mountain Trail Outdoor School
Ext. 2836
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee where she attended St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Deven continued her education at Sewanee: The University of the South. She has undergraduate and masters degrees in psychological studies, and has presented and been published in a number of educational settings.

Deven has an extensive background in camps and education, including a post as assistant to the director in a large Episcopal summer camp program.

She first came to Kanuga as Camp Kanuga staff in 2022 and has joined us this year as registrar.

Deven spends her free time hiking, fishing, rockhounding, embroidering, and cooking. She is passionate about sustainability and creating a welcoming environment that fosters growth and development for each person who visits Kanuga.
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Aimee Bostwick
Coordinator of Community & Spiritual Life
Aimee has served in The Episcopal Church as a professional lay minister for nearly 30 years. Her love of the Church and her desire to serve began when she was a summer camp counselor at Camp Hardtner, an Episcopal camp and conference center in Louisiana. That summer began a journey of ministry in the Church that has led her to serve as a youth minister, diocesan youth coordinator, and director of programs for a large parish in Austin, Texas. Aimee also served on the board of FORMA. Each step along her journey, Kanuga has been a place of transformation and preparation for the next step along of her vocational path. It seems only fitting that the Spirit has led her back to Kanuga in the role of coordinator of community and spiritual life.

Aimee is completing her Masters of Spiritual Formation from the Seminary of the Southwest. In her free time, she loves hiking, dancing to live music, and being with her family and friends around a campfire.
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Lisa Breton
Conference Service Manager
Lisa is originally from Miami, Florida, where she trained for and served seven years as a flight attendant. It was also in Miami that she gained experience in hospitality with Starwood Hotels (Sheraton Bal Harbor, Westin/Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Resorts). In 2010, soon after moving to Lake Lure, she began a ten-year career with Rumbling Bald Resort in Lake Lure, NC. As a Group Sales Manager, she assisted with corporate retreats, family reunions, golf groups, and athletic teams (specializing in rowing), along with internal resort events. Lisa joined Kanuga Inn & Lodging in 2022 as a Conference Service Manager.

In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, meditating, and cooking. She brings a warmth and caring environment with individual attention to all groups who visit. She is passionate about ensuring that all guests feel welcomed, appreciated, and satisfied.
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Mary Kait Brown
Environmental Programs Specialist
Mary Kait first discovered Kanuga in 2019 as an instructor for Mountain Trail Outdoor School, and has served as Kanuga’s lead environmental program specialist since June 2021. Growing up in eastern North Carolina, Mary Kait could easily be found outside climbing trees or in a creek uncovering nature mysteries. Not much has changed since then, as her curiosity and passion for the natural world have only deepened over time. She graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a bachelor’s degree in environmental and sustainability studies in 2017 and has been working in the outdoor education field ever since. She was an environmental educator at Haw River State Park in North Carolina, a teacher naturalist at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in Tennessee, and a naturalist guide for a locally owned ecotourism business in Asheville, North Carolina.

“I am excited for the future of sustainability at Kanuga and feel deeply honored to be a part of such a profound and enduring legacy. Coming back to Kanuga felt like coming home.”

In her free time, Mary Kait enjoys birding, hiking, making art out of nature items, and appreciating the daily moments of awe in nature.
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Stratt Byars
Director of Camps and Outdoor Education (COE)
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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Davie Cox
Sales Manager
Raised on a 10-acre home in a farming community outside the Motor City of Detroit, Davie grew up in Michigan and spent many years in Florida. He became an outdoor enthusiast early on, with camping trips and exploring nature with this family. For seven years In his early career, Davie was a flight attendant, and enjoyed exploring the country. He eventually entered the medical business as a customer care and sales representative, in order to be at home more with his family. Davie also worked for Keller Williams Realty for five years in Asheville’s Biltmore Village office, after which he joined Kanuga Inn & Lodging as Sales Manager. Davie’s passion for diversity and culture seems to be a natural fit with the values at Kanuga. Davie lives in Hendersonville with this spouse and two chihuahuas. He enjoys cooking, hiking, boating, and skiing.
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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: James, Diana, and Thompson.
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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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Glenn Griffith
Property Director
828-692-9136 x2835
Born and raised in Van Buren, Ohio, Glenn Griffith has been involved in summer camp his entire life, first as a camper, then as a volunteer and assistant camp director. He has associates degrees in microcomputer operations and executive business administration. He moved to North Carolina in 2013 and worked as assistant food service director for a Christian boarding school before joining Kanuga in 2014. He began as a maintenance technician for Camp Kanuga and Camp Bob, and was promoted to senior technician and then manager. His current role at Kanuga is maintenance manager/interim property director. For fun, Glenn collects and cuts gems and minerals, SCUBA dives, and explores an interest in 3D printing.
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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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Chad McCall
Chef McCall has 17 years of culinary experience and is a proud graduate of the Asheville-Buncombe Technical culinary program. A Hendersonville native, he enjoys cooking southern comfort food. His journey through flavors and tradition is a testament to his love for the craft. He is passionate about giving back, especially cooking at the local homeless shelter.
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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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Meg Nygren
Advancement Services Manager
Meg joins the Kanuga team as Advancement Services Manager. Her prior experience includes working in the marketing and business development arena, strategic planning, and leadership development. She also has experience with regards to operations, regulation, and compliance in her prior role at one of the leading dual diagnosis treatment facilities in the country for young adult men and women.

Meg delivers a high standard of excellence in her role and offers a collaborative team spirit with those she works with. In line with Kanuga’s mission, Meg values connection with others, being in nature, and exploring spirituality.

Hailing from upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains, Meg moved to beautiful Western North Carolina with her husband, Eric and miniature pinscher, Romeo in 2011. She holds a Master of Science in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
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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. Carrie attended Meredith College and began her professional life in the Raleigh-Durham area working for national and start-up non-profits focused on emergency response, employment and education. She relocated to Boston in 2011, where she worked with several leading organizations advocating for equitable policies around food access and affordability. Throughout her career, Carrie has held roles in multiple areas, including corporate relations, operations, advancement, and communications. Carrie returned to North Carolina in 2017 and now lives in Flat Rock with her wife, Lauren.
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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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Erin Tippins
Director of Rooms
Erin Joined Kanuga in 2023 bringing an extensive background in hospitality and hotel management, including hotel operations, guest services, sales, catering, and event management. Originally from central Pennsylvania, Erin moved to Hendersonville from low country South Carolina in 2020 and fell in love with the sense of community and beauty of western North Carolina. Erin Received her Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from the University of South Carolina in 2009. She has a son, Connor, who enjoys hiking and seeing new places. Together they love to try new restaurants, swim, and camp.
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David Tyler
General Manager, Kanuga Inn & Lodging
David graduated from Michigan State University in the Business School with high honors and began his career early in hospitality with Marriott International where he served for 10 years, becoming their top salesperson in the region.

Since then, his experience ranges from boutique luxury hotels, limited to full service, off-shore Caribbean resorts to new developments and property openings. Other positions include Director of Sales for Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure, NC. and The Naples Beach & Golf Club in Naples, FL as Director of Sales & Marketing where he spent much of his career at this 4-diamond independent property.

David is former assistant general manager and director of sales.

David enjoys the outdoors, hiking, mountain biking, snow skiing and boating with his spouse, as well as volunteering for nonprofit and local charities. He appreciates the importance of friends and family with his core values and is inspired to instill with others. David is excited to be a team member of Kanuga, embracing the culture and all the potential offerings ahead.
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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, Kanuga Inn & Lodging
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.