Carolyn Ward

Chief Executive Officer
Asheville, NC

Carolyn Ward, Ph.D. serves as the CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the primary philanthropic partner to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Carolyn was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwestern Virginia. After graduating from Emory and Henry College, she found her passion as a seasonal park interpreter at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, Virginia. Following that love for the outdoors and her passion for teaching and learning, she completed her Master’s and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Forestry. From there, she traveled to northern California, where she worked as a professor for 12 years.  

Carolyn is a decorated professor and award-winning researcher and author. She serves as the editor for a research journal and has dedicated the later part of her career to forming partnerships and building connections and capacity in all that she does for the Blue Ridge Parkway and the communities that dot its ridges. Her work with The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation involves collaborations with the National Park Service, local community groups, numerous non-profit foundations and individual stewards to  ensure the continued preservation and protection of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

She lives in Fairview, North Carolina, with her husband and daughter. She has completed the circle and is once more able to help build the connections between people and place….the people that are like her family, and the place that is her home…the Blue Ridge Mountains.