Putting a Face to the Name

Our staff makes Kanuga the wonderful place it is.

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Kanuga’s 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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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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Abby Bradley
Program Director, Mountain Trail Outdoor School
Abby returns for her second year with Kanuga, working as Mountain Trail Outdoor School's Program Director. Originally from Boston, Abby has called the beautiful western North Carolina area her home since 2017. Her extensive background and outdoor experiences include working as a naturalist, outdoor educator, and backpacking instructor for numerous programs all over the country. She also recently completed her master's degree in Experiential and Outdoor Education from Western Carolina University, with a thesis focus on gender inequity within the outdoor field. Abby's work for Mountain Trail Outdoor School and Kanuga inspires others to see the beauty of creation, and promotes responsible stewardship of the natural world.
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Mary Kait Brown
Environmental Programs Specialist
828-233-2739
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)
828-233-2840
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: 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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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
828-233-2732
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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Ta’alolo Pa’u (Ta’)
General Manager, Kanuga Inn & Lodging
Ta’s Polynesian heritage taught him the importance of family, community, and hospitality at a young age and led him to an early service industry job with Gucci as a retail manager for 13 years. His passion for serving others made the transition into the hotel world a natural fit, and he has served as GM, Director of Recreation, and Operations Manager for notable companies around the country such as Hilton Hotels and Disney Resorts, as well as independent properties including the Riverhouse Resort in Bend, OR and the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Spa in Aurora, CO, where he served as Director of Operations.

Ta’s varied experience, as well as his thoughtful take on organizational culture, approachable demeanor, and desire to develop future hospitality leaders make him a perfect fit for a destination as unique and beautiful as ours.

Aside from work, Ta' likes to spend his free time with his family and participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and camping or just simply relaxing and reading a good book.
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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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Gia Santiago
Director of Housekeeping
Originally from Chicagoland, Gia moved to western North Carolina in 1995. While raising her three children in Haywood County, Gia started her own cleaning service that specialized in residential, commercial, and new construction cleaning services. She co-owned and managed a construction company that specialized in log home construction.

In 2008, due to the housing market crisis, Gia reconfigured her cleaning business and at that time focused on vacation rental ownership, management and services. She maintained 30+ vacation rentals in WNC from 2008-2019. Where she built excellent relations with homeowners and property managers. In 2019 she entered the corporate world and has been a passionate, guest-focused housekeeping professional who grew as a leader in the conference center setting. In June 2021 she stepped in as Director of Housekeeping at Kanuga.

In her spare time, Gia enjoys spending time with her children and two grandchildren. She likes to collect vinyl and antiques.
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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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David Tyler
Director of Sales
David graduated from Michigan State University in the Business School with high honors and began his career in hospitality with several training programs including Marriott International for almost 10 years. He was the top salesperson in the region receiving several customer services awards directly from Bill Marriott.

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. Just recently David held a position at 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 enjoys the outdoors, hiking, mountain biking, snow skiing, boating and 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 of the potential offerings ahead.
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Miriam Walsh
Controller
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.