Executive Director
       Maria Wise is a native of Western North Carolina and a graduate of North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Biological Science. She has a Master’s degree in Sustainability Studies from Lenoir Rhyne University. Maria worked in biotech in Chicago and in water quality protection in Florida where she also worked to protect manatees and mangrove habitat. In recent years Maria helped protect farmland in Buncombe County with the Soil and Water Conservation District. There were over 1000 acres of farm and forest land protected with conservation easements under Maria’s guidance. She is passionate about working with farmers and landowners to enhance their properties whi le also protecting streams and rivers from erosion and run-off. In her spare time, she likes hiking and camping with her family and enjoying the local food scene of Western North Carolina.
Outreach and Education Coordinator
(AmeriCorps Project Conserve)​

Emily Israel was raised in North Carolina and has lived sporadically from the Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic coast, and recently spent five years in the Piedmont region while attending The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC).

While at UNCC, Emily studied the abiotic stress responses and regeneration of Nematostella vectensis.

Emily found her calling in Conservation after she redirected her career path to reflect her passion for protecting the planet’s natural resources and ecosystems from human exploitation and pollution.

As an AmeriCorps Project Conserve member, Emily is serving as the Watershed Outreach and Education Coordinator for Mills River Partnership. She is very excited to be back in western NC gaining environmental skills and experience and anticipates the abundance of knowledge she will gain within the Mills River Watershed.

The Mills River Partnership Board of Directors Includes:
  • Kieran Roe from Conserving Carolina (formerly Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Pacolet Area Conservancy)
  • Marc Hunt from the City of Asheville
  • Steve Caraker from the City of Hendersonville
  • Jimmy Cowan from the Farm Bureau Federation of Henderson County
  • Mark Williams from the Henderson County Agricultural Advisory Board
  • Rachel Kipar from the Henderson County Board of Commissioners
  • Greg Hoyt from the Henderson County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Gray Jernigan from MountainTrue
  • Wayne Carland from the Town of Mills River
  • James Cantrell from the Town of Mills River Agriculture Committee
  • Jim Czarnezki from Trout Unlimited
  • At-large members including: Bert Lemkes, Stan Cooper, and Jeff Chandler