by Robin Hitner: Outgoing Board President
You may remember that our Executive Director Mary Topa announced her retirement in the Winter 2018 issue of Forest News. Fortunately for Georgia ForestWatch, she graciously decided to stay on until the Board found a replacement for her. We are now happy to announce a new Executive Director. Donald (Don) Davis will be officially reporting on August 13th. Mary, generously again, will remain through the end of August to ensure a smooth transition. ForestWatch members will be able to meet Don and say goodbye to Mary at the upcoming Fall Retreat on October 6th.
A Georgia native, Don was born and raised in the Ringgold area. He has worked in the environmental field for more than three decades, as well as directed two Georgia environmental nonprofits. He was the founder and President of the Armuchee Alliance and served as the first Director for the Georgia Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation. His tenure with the Armuchee Alliance gave him the unique opportunity to work closely with Georgia ForestWatch as the Alliance and ForestWatch collaborated on forest planning issues in what was then the Armuchee Ranger District of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Don was also a Board member of the Coosa River Basin Initiative and Georgia Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation. In 2013, he became the Governmental Affairs Representative for the American Chestnut Foundation in Washington, DC.
Don graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee with a Ph.D. specialization in Environmental Sociology. He also has an M.A. in Social Ecology from Goddard College in Vermont, an M.A. in Psychology from the State University of West Georgia, and a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from the University of Tennessee. Don was a professor at Dalton State College for 17 years where he taught Environmental Sociology.
Don is the author of several books and has written numerous articles for environmental journals. His 2000 publication of his book Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians established his reputation as a leading environmental historian of the southern Appalachian region. The book won the prestigious 2001 Philip D. Reed Writing Award for best book on the southern environment.
In late 2010, Don resigned from Dalton State College to join his wife, who works for the World Health Organization, in Washington, DC. During her assignments in foreign countries, Don completed a Fulbright Fellowship while in the Ukraine. He also taught at the Precarpathian National University in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, and did fieldwork in the Carpathian Mountains where he documented environmental and cultural change in mountain villages.
Don still considers Georgia his home, as his immediate family still resides in area. While he and his wife currently live in Tunisia, Africa, Don is looking for a place to live near Dahlonega. We are looking forward to Don joining our team in August.
I would like to thank the Executive Search Committee for all their hard work in the recruiting effort. These members included Ted Doll, Sue Harmon, Jim Walker, Tom Colkett and Lyn Hopper. Special thanks to Ted for leading the charge. And many thanks to Jess Riddle who helped in the interview process and Mary Topa who gave us guidance along the way.