The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation with honor has announced that Dr. Houck Medford of Winston-Salem, its founder and chief executive officer, has resigned and has been succeeded as acting CEO by Dr. Carolyn Ward of Asheville, who has been serving as chief operating officer. Medford will continue as a consultant to the Foundation. In making the announcement, Bob Shepherd, chairman of the board of trustees, praised Medford’s vision and dedication to preserving the beauty and culture of the nation’s most visited National Park. The parkway extends 469 miles through 29 counties in North Carolina and Virginia.
“Our board is unanimous in expressing deep appreciation for Houck’s and K.B’s (his wife) perseverance over the years in creating and growing our foundation so that citizens and organizations can have a tax deductible conduit through which they can contribute in a meaningful way to enhancing the Blue Ridge Parkway,” Shepherd said.
In 1997, Medford and a group of civic leaders organized the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in Winston-Salem after Medford retired from a successful dental practice. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, is the primary private fundraising organization for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Foundation has provided more than three-million dollars in endowments and direct allocations for projects and programs which enhance the visitors’ experience and help preserve the Blue Ridge Parkway’s scenic, cultural and environmental quality.
Over the past few years, the foundation has contributed to numerous capital improvements along the Parkway, including renovation of the North Carolina Mineral Museum, preservation of the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, improvements at Graveyard Fields and other projects.
Parks As Classrooms is one of the flagship programs funded by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. This program instills values of Parkway protection, history, ecology and culture among students in all 29 Virginia and North Carolina Parkway counties where the program is presented.
Now in its third year, the Foundation’s “Kids in Parks” program is a special initiative to combat childhood obesity and to engage children and their families with our national parks. The sponsorship of special Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation license tags in North Carolina generates around a half-million dollars a year for the parkway’s benefit and is the most popular specialty tag in the state.
Dr. Ward joined the foundation in 2008 as the first director of the Kids in Parks program and became president and chief operating officer in March of this year. Before joining the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, The Wytheville, Virginia native taught at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California for nearly ten years. An award winning researcher and author, she is the editor of the National Association of Interpretation Journal for Interpretation Research. She received her master and doctorate degrees in outdoor recreation from Virginia Tech.
For more information: