Katherine Cross, Chair
Katherine decided to join in FANS’ efforts when she learned of the organization’s mission to work for a strong and vibrant Swannanoa, her happily adopted home as of 2011. She was drawn to this area largely because of the many opportunities for enjoying biking, kayaking, hiking, and other outdoor pursuits.
She is particularly interested in environmental issues in the Swannanoa Valley, believing that, among other things, the development of connected greenways in the valley will enhance quality of life here. She also serves on the board of Friends of Connect Buncombe, a nonprofit whose purpose is to “make greenways happen” across the county.
A retired attorney who now works as a realtor with Town and Mountain Realty, Katherine hopes to use the skills developed in those professions to advocate for greenways, as well as good stewardship of the Swannanoa River and of our valley’s many other natural assets.
Betsy Warren, Vice-Chair
Betsy has been a development officer for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity since 2007. Her job is to seek, foster and maintain relationships with Habitat house or project sponsors. Before that, she worked for nearly 25 years in the field of domestic violence (DV). Most recently, she was the Program Coordinator for a transitional housing program for DV survivors. She was also a counselor at Helpmate, Asheville’s DV program.
Betsy lives in the Bee Tree Forest community, where she enjoys a long walk or run along the Swannanoa River, a steep hike up Watch Knob and the Four Brothers, or a beautiful bike ride – all by simply walking out her front door. Besides those activities, Betsy enjoys fly fishing, weightlifting, volunteering on Habitat construction sites, and listening to audiobooks.
Elizabeth Wilkes, Treasurer
Elizabeth is a newcomer to Swannanoa, having moved to the area in February, 2017 from the east coast of NC. She grew up in the woods of Tennessee, and was looking for more variety in the seasons – so Swannanoa was a perfect place to hang her hat. Elizabeth has an accounting and office management background, and has also worked as a personal assistant. She enjoys reading, spending time in her yard, and hiking and exploring with her dog.
Andrew Belz, Secretary
Andrew and his wife, Mary Anna, enjoy the Swannanoa community, and dream of its potential as a place to live, enjoy and do business. Andrew is a professional development officer and Mary Anna is a substitute teacher in Buncombe County. Andrew is a graduate of Covenant College and the University of Iowa. Both have spent their careers in education, including 30 years at a boarding school in Iowa.
They moved here in 2011. Andrew and Mary Anna have five adult children, three of whom are married, and one grandson. Andrew says their home has always emphasized music, so both Mary Anna and Andrew are members of their church choir. “I also love carpentry and building things,” he says, “because then I can see what I’m getting done.”
Jennifer and her husband, David Mulder, have lived in Swannanoa for the past 11 years. Jennifer attended the University of Texas at Austin and later earned her Master of Science in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, CO. She has been practicing acupuncture for the past 13 years. Jennifer and David chose the Swannanoa Valley as home because of its abundant natural beauty and their love of the outdoors, hiking and spending time in nature. David is a chef at the Grove Park Inn, and they have two children ages five and nine.
Jennifer is a proponent of the “Smart Growth” concept as a tool for building communities that are economically prosperous, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable. She is interested in improving quality of life by advocating for affordable housing, greenways and sidewalks, beautification, and a continued revitalization of the downtown area. Jennifer enjoys travel, has an interest in backyard homesteading, and is a beekeeper and avid gardener.
Maureen is originally from Massachusetts, where she obtained her BS in Education from Boston State College. She held various jobs, including teaching academically gifted children. She, her husband, and their five children moved to Swannanoa in 1988, when her husband, a precision diamond toolmaker, was transferred for work to Arden, NC. After moving here, Maureen was hired as an interim teacher for a fourth‐grade class at WD Williams Elementary.
Four months later, she was hired to teach third grade at Haw Creek Elementary, and in 1995, she began teaching second grade. Maureen retired in 2012 after 21 years in the teaching field. She has been active in the Swannanoa community for many years, coordinating the annual Swannanoa Sweep Community Cleanup since 2007. She also helps co-manage the Swannanoa Community Garden, and spends “many wonderful hours” babysitting for her four grandchildren.
Sandy co-manages the Swannanoa Community Garden with Maureen Dillow. She completed the Warren Wilson College Service Learning Fellows program in the spring of 2014 and is on the community partnership board at the college. She also attends garden-related conferences and is a member of The WNC Gardens that Give.
Sandy holds a two-year degree in Human Services (Social Work) and also a two-year degree in Early Childhood Education. She and her husband bought a home in Beacon Village in 2010, where she provides caretaking for family members. Sandy was in the Navy and served as a petty officer in the aviation branch during the Vietnam War, tracking repairs and inspections on the aircraft in her squadron. She has also been a Sunday School teacher, a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader, and a marching band parent/volunteer. Her hobbies include scrapbooking, crafts, decorating, learning more about the history of the Valley she now calls home . . . and, of course, gardening.
Samantha moved to Swannanoa in 2015, and didn’t waste any time getting involved with her new community. She works at Charles D. Owen High School as Media Specialist. She graduated from UNC – Wilmington with a BA in Political Science and Teacher Certificate in Secondary Social Studies. Samantha also earned a Masters degree in Library Science from East Carolina University. She has two children, and two grandchildren who really enjoy playing in Grovemont Park and visiting the Swannanoa Library. In addition to her community volunteer work, her main hobby seems to be walking the dogs around the neighborhood!
Carol moved to Swannanoa from Washington, DC in 1999. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Carol is Vice Chair of the Board of the Friends of the Swannanoa Library and a member of the Board of the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund. She’s also a Buncombe County Master Gardener Volunteer and serves on the Council of Visitors of Warren Wilson College.
Carol is a former member of the Asheville-Buncombe Regional Flood Damage Reduction Task Force, the Mill Around the Village Festival Committee, and the boards of the Black Mountain‐Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce and Asheville GreenWorks. She enjoys reading, hiking, competitive rowing, biking, gardening and traveling with her husband, Doug, and son, Zack.
A Swannanoa resident since 1999, Doug is chair of the Swannanoa Community Council, serves on the Council of Visitors at Warren Wilson College, is active with the Friends of the Swannanoa Library, and is a choir member at First Congregational United Church of Christ-Asheville.
Doug attended State University of New York at Buffalo. He enjoys biking, hiking, nature studies, reading and book discussions, whitewater boating, snorkeling/breath hold diving, and swimming.
Rev. James Lytle
Rev. James Lytle has been the Pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Swannanoa for the past 15 years, and also works as Purchasing Coordinator for the Old Fort Engineering Center International Automotive Components Group. James is a member of Mud Creek Baptist Association and Mt. Allen Lodge #704.
He was born and raised in Old Fort, and attended McDowell County public schools. James has studied at McDowell Technical College and Fruitland Bible College, and has taken courses at Mars Hill Extension. He has been married for 45 years to Evelina L. Lytle and has four children, 14 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.
Charlie and his wife, Joyce, moved to the Swannanoa Valley in 2010. They live on the campus of Warren Wilson College, where Joyce works in housing and residence life. Charlie taught at Warren Wilson College for a time, but now has the pleasure of serving as the Volunteer and Human Resources Coordinator at Verner Center for Early Learning in Riceville.
Charlie and Joyce have two young children. They love calling the Valley home, and hope to help preserve its simple beauty. They are both avid scuba divers, and enjoy nature, reading and hiking.
Valerie has lived in the Swannanoa Valley since 1997, and in the Grovemont community since 2007. She graduated from Wayne State University’s school of journalism in Michigan, and was a reporter for various news agencies, including the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. She switched career paths, and became public relations director for one of the country’s largest healthcare systems before moving to North Carolina.
Valerie now helps area businesses develop marketing and event plans. She specializes in writing content-rich web site copy and collaborates on web design. She coordinated Asheville-Buncombe County’s first county-wide VISION dialogues; is a past member of the Mill Around the Village Festival Committee; and enjoys hiking, biking, fishing, music of all types and road trips.