Who We ARE

We’re the FOUNDATION.
And so are you.

As the primary private fundraising partner of the Blue Ridge Parkway, expectations of us run higher than the treetops. The National Park Service relies upon our commitment to fund programs and projects that enhance the visitor experience and have lasting value. With shrinking Federal funding, it’s more challenging than ever for them to maintain their high level of service. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is a non-profit 501(3)c organization founded in 1997 through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to provide private financial support for the Blue Ridge Parkway. We receive no annual Federal funding, and our budget greatly depends upon people like you who cherish the grandeur and legacy of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is your passage to one of the most visited units in the National Park system. Join our community of stewards who want to create a solid future for the Blue Ridge Parkway and preserve it for future generations.

Share the journey with us.  Since 1997, we have provided over $2.7 million dollars for projects and programs that benefit the Parkway. Learn more about what we do.

Our Partners

For nearly 70 years, the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) has produced and supported a variety of traditional arts programs in national parks across the United States. By formal agreement with the Parkway, NCTA is the Park’s partner in developing and operating the Blue Ridge Music Center located at Milepost 213 near Galax, Virginia. The Center’s mission is to preserve and present the traditional music of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Teresa Pennington is a self-taught colored pencil artist with a talent she says is God-given. Often spending as much as four months on one drawing, she meticulously renders the scenery, landmarks, flora and fauna of Western North Carolina with an emphasis on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Teresa contributes the proceeds from the sale of her Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook Series and Viaduct prints to the Foundation.

Chartered in 1948, Eastern National is an association operating in more than 130 national parks and other public trusts. EN currently operates educational retail outlets in 30 states, from Maine to the Caribbean. All of the products, programs, and publications offered to visitors have strong educational value and assist the educational programs of the National Park Service. In fact, the profits from EN activities are donated to the National Park Service. Since 1947, EN has donated over $89 million to the Park Service. 

Our People

Carolyn Ward

Chief Executive Officer

Carolyn Ward, Ph.D. serves as the CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the primary philanthropic partner to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Willa Coffey Mays

Chief Development Officer

Willa has an MBA/ MHA and extensive experience in non-profit management.

Jason Urroz

Director, Kids In Parks

Jason came to the Foundation in 2008 to assist in running the Kids In Parks program for which he now serves as Project Director.