top of page


ASHEVILLE, NC (April 18, 2019): The Board of Directors of Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) announced today that Meryl Harrell will step in to lead the organization as Interim Director during its search for a permanent Executive Director. Most recently, Harrell served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors.

“I can’t think of a steadier hand to guide our organization through this transition than Meryl’s,” said Anders Reynolds, who serves as Board Chair for SAWS. “Her history with the Forest Service, creative thinking on non-profit engagement, and deep understanding of our issues make her the perfect fit for reinforcing the programmatic work that our talented staff will continue to focus on the day-to-day.”

SAWS is a conservation non-profit dedicated to providing stewardship to protected public lands in the Southern Appalachian region, which includes areas in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Founded in 2010, SAWS serves as a resource for federal agencies, especially the U.S. Forest Service, supplementing existing stewardship efforts and providing partner capacity and support. SAWS is also a member of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), providing paid work experience for youth, members of the military and veterans to connect to the outdoors and become the next generation of conservation stewards and natural resource managers. In 2018, SAWS generated over 35,000 stewardship hours on public lands, employed 45 full-time and seasonal staff and crew members, and engaged hundreds of volunteers serving in the Southern Appalachians.

Harrell currently advises non-profits, foundations, outdoor recreation groups, and state and federal government agencies working to protect America’s public and private working lands. She previously spent eight years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), serving as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. While at USDA, Harrell worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Harrell previously worked on public lands issues at The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. She currently lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two young children.

“I am thrilled to help lead SAWS through this transition,” said Harrell. “SAWS provides stewardship support for more than sixty protected areas on nine national forests in the Southern Appalachian region and helps to build the next generation of conservation stewards. With a great staff, engaged Board of Directors, and close partner relationships, I am confident SAWS will continue to deliver on its mission, and that we will find a fantastic new leader for the next chapter of SAWS.”

The search for a new Executive Director launched today, April 18th, and applications will be accepted until Monday, May 13th. The job description and instructions on how to apply are posted at []. Inquiries about the position can be directed to Anders Reynolds at The new Executive Director is expected to be in the position by midsummer of this year.

169 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page