Kaitlin de Varona

Executive Director


Kaitlin found and fell in love with Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards in 2017 and stepped into the role of Executive Director in 2021. Kaitlin is deeply passionate about and continually inspired by the enthusiastic, talented staff and their boots-on-the-ground wilderness stewardship work. She believes that wild public lands are important to the health and wellbeing of every individual, is committed to working towards equity and inclusion in the outdoors, and celebrates diversity in outdoor conservation. Kaitlin previously held a wilderness specialist and wilderness program manager role with SAWS and had the unique opportunity to serve on the U.S. Forest Service’s national Wilderness Character Monitoring Central Team. In 2020, Kaitlin helped start and lead SAWS’ internal justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) Leadership Team and served on the planning teams for the Wilderness Skills Institute and The Bridge Program. Kaitlin is an active board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and absolutely thrives herself in wild outdoor spaces.

Kaitlin was first introduced to wild public lands after joining a summer trail crew in the Spring Mountains of southern Nevada. This transformational experience led Kaitlin to pursue knowledge and understanding of federally designated wilderness and public land management and policy, earing a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She continued to gain experience in conservation and environmental stewardship through work in both the non-profit sector and government agency. This variety of natural resource work in the field inspired Kaitlin to take a closer look at recreation ecology and recreation management issues with an academic lens, completing a Master of Science in Natural Resources and certificate in Geospatial Information Science at North Carolina State University.

Kaitlin is absolutely enamored with her family, currently raising two young boys, and enjoys spending time with them outdoors hiking, camping, rock scrambling, gardening, and adventuring down the creek in their backyard. She loves taking on new craft projects like knitting and quilting and can’t resist a good audio book or podcast. Kaitlin is intrigued about new skills that better connect her to the natural world and looks to further develop her skills in basket weaving, foraging, gardening, and hunting.


Office: Asheville

Kaitlin de Varona