Our Staff & Team

George Santucci, President
George Santucci has been president of New River Conservancy since mid-November 2005. From April 1998 to November 2005 he worked for North Carolina Cooperative Extensions Ashe Center as a 4H Program Associate, Outdoor Education. While with Extension, George started 4H Blue Ridge Conservation Corps a workforce preparation, academic and behavior improvement program for Ashe County high school students. BRCC did trail construction, park and river clean-ups, campsite construction and river restoration projects. He was introduced to the New River while running 4H's summer Wilderness Experience camping program. Prior to his work with Extension, George was a high school Math teacher in the Bronx, an Instructor with the North Carolina Outward Bound School and an Adjunct Instructor in Appalachian State University's Recreation Management Department. He has paddled, biked and climbed along the New River. His passion for environmental conservation was intensified during four months spent leading Outward Bound Courses in the Florida Everglades. Seeing the wholesale alteration of an entire ecosystem as rare and unique as the Everglades led him to dedicating his professional life to the preservation and protection of natural wild places.

Chelsea Blount, Restoration Director
A Northern Arkansas native, Chelsea gained an appreciation for mountains and streams as a child. Her family moved to Granville County, North Carolina in 2003. At NC State University, Chelsea majored in animal sciences, but after two years in Raleigh, she transferred to Appalachian State where she graduated with a B.S. in Biology and received a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Beginning with New River Conservancy as an intern in 2014, Chelsea now works as Restoration Director, coordinating the River Builder Program, stream restoration projects, and river cleanup program.

Summer Rich, Communications Director
Summer, the New River Conservancy's new Communications and Outreach Coordinator, comes to the High Country from Morehead City, North Carolina. Growing up on the coast, the mountains always felt like some distant land, full of mystery and magic, which Summer always found appealing. While she had never lived more than walking distance from the ocean, her college career brought her first to Winston Salem where she received her B.A in Sociology and Psychology from Salem College, and eventually Appalachian State University where she received her Master’s in Public Administration. Upon arriving the High Country she immediately found peace on the New River. While her journey so far has been full of changes and surprises, her passion for conservation, protecting the environment, and serving the nonprofit sector have remained.

Suzanne Joyner, Water Quality Coordinator
Suzanne grew up in the outskirts of Rochester, New York and spent as much time as possible exploring the woods behind her home. She matriculated at NC State University, graduating with a BS degree in Biological Sciences. She later completed a five course program in Computer Science. She was employed for twenty years by the pharmaceutical firm, Burroughs Wellcome, as a Research Scientist, working in antibiotic research, as well as analyzing chemotherapeutic cancer agents. During college and beyond, Suzanne and her husband Ron, spent many weekends white water paddling in the mountains of NC, VA and WV. Falling in love with the mountains, they moved to Ashe County in 1995 establishing an apple orchard and apple tree nursery. For many years they volunteered with the National Committee for the New River (now the New River Conservancy) performing water monitoring tests on Big Horse Creek, which flows near their farm, as well as Buffalo Creek and the North Fork of the New River.

Ben Burrows Stewardship Coordinator
Ben, a Winston-Salem, North Carolina native, has been interning with New River since May 2019. His first summer of river clean-ups and stream bank restorations inspired him to transfer from N.C. State University to the Sustainable Development Department at Appalachian State University. He’s continued working with New River throughout his junior year and was recently named Stewardship Coordinator. Ben loves living in Boone and its beautiful mountain setting. In his free time, Ben and his band, Dropping Plates, can be found playing in venues around town.

Outfitters 4, Finance Manager
Outfitters4 was founded in 2012 and we exist to assume the burdens of routine management so our nonprofit clients can focus on their missions. Outfitters4 is a full-service resource equipping nonprofits for success. We provide integrated support through outsourced staff and routine operations, partnership in core management services, and consultation or referral for all facets of organizational development and operations. As New River Conservancy's Finance Manager, Outfitters4 manages NRC's bookkeeping, financial reporting, payroll, as well as the annual audit and tax return process.

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