Our Team

Jessica Hocz

Executive Director

Jessica grew up in Vermont and completed her undergrad there, at Castleton University. She worked on trail crews in the Sierras and at Glacier National Park, before moving to North Carolina to study Landscape Architecture at NCSU. Since 2009, Jessica’s work at Mountain Valleys has included wind turbine installations, over 40 renewable energy projects on farms, stream restorations, stormwater management projects at schools, and helped create the Ivy River Partners watershed group.

Mariah Hughes

Project Coordinator, Ivy River Partners

Mariah has lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains her whole life, except for a few years when she was earning her graduate degree at NCSU in science education. A background in environmental sciences and work with nonprofits, a renewable energy start-up, and government agencies has prepared Mariah for the varied tasks at hand in resource conservation work. She joined Mountain Valleys in 2014 to help manage the formation of the Ivy River Partners watershed group and continues to coordinate the development of this project.

Christina Newhouse

Project Coordinator, WNC EnergyCAP

Christina Newhouse has been supporting and working with Western NC rural small businesses and farms for the past 6 years. She brings her personal experience as a small farm owner operator as well as an agriculture educator focused on farm sustainability. Christina teaches fresh produce season extension, high tunnel production, organic farm production techniques and certifications, farmland conservation and preservation, on-farm food safety practices, and overall farm business operations including marketing. Her work on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects is another component of environmental conservation practices which help rural small business and farms maximize their natural resources for long-term viability.

Jen Haas

Outreach Coordinator & Wildfire Preparedness Coordinator

Jen joined Mountain Valleys in fall 2019. Originally from Raleigh, NC, she lived in western Montana for 10 years working on federal trail crews, obtaining a degree in Geography and GIS from the University of Montana, and coordinating volunteer programs and special events for the International Wildlife Film Festival. She has a passion for bringing people and ideas together to cultivate connection and growth within the community. She also enjoys getting her hands dirty and exploring the natural world.

Our board members

Executive board

Russell Blevins, Madison County - Chairman

Richard Smith, Polk County - Vice Chairman

Andrew Brannon, Henderson County - Secretary

Bob Carter, Buncombe County - Treasurer

Robert Watts, Buncombe County - Council Member

Maurice McAlister, Madison County - Council Member

Council members

Barbara Meliski, Rutherford County

Harold Hunter, Madison County

Ashley Wooten, McDowell County

Loring McIntyre, Buncombe County

John Vining, Polk County

Albert Moore, Rutherford County

Lex Garey, Rutherford County

David Caldwell, Cleveland County