Staff & Board
Meet the team.
Rick joined the Tennessee River Gorge Trust on January 7, 2013 after retiring from a 26-year career of public service with the US Fish and Wildlife Service where he has worked throughout the Southeast in five different states in various capacities. Most recently, Rick served as the Deputy Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Rick spent his youth in Old Hickory, Tennessee roaming the banks of the Cumberland River where he was inspired at a young age to follow his passion for conservation. He attended Middle Tennessee State University and graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Plant and Soil Science with an emphasis on Wildlife Management.
Alishea Hixson joined the Trust on February 19, 2018 as the new Associate Director. Originally from Decatur, TN, she grew up on a farm and understands the value of protecting our local open spaces. Alishea moved to Chattanooga to attend UTC and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Ecology.
Alishea's professional work includes serving as the Director of Special Events at First Things First for 8 years, and the Associate Director of Annual Giving for the UC Foundation for 2 years. She is also a 2014 graduate of Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce Protégé Leadership Program.
She and her husband, David, love to travel. In recent years they have been to Alaska, Colorado, New York, and are planning a trip out west this summer to South Dakota, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons.
Business & Community Access Director; Lead for Water Quality Program
Mariah is an ISA Certified Arborist and holds a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from Michigan State University. She fell in love with the great outdoors while exploring the rugged mountains, slot canyons, and rivers around Flagstaff, Arizona where she lived for 8 years. Mariah, her husband Greg, her son Forrest, and her dog Louie can't imagine living anywhere else. When she is not busy with being the Chair of the Tree Commission or a Committee Member for the Southeast Conservation Corps, you may find her rock climbing or paddle boarding through the Gorge.
Although Pine Mountain, GA will always be home, Audrey has spent the better part of the last 17 years living in Asia with her family. After Audrey graduated from Columbus State University in 1997 with a degree in Accounting and passed her CPA exam, she met her husband Tom on a blind date. Eleven months later they were married and living in Japan. Altogether, Audrey and Tom spent 11 years in Japan and China and moved back to the States in 2012. When Audrey isn't crunching numbers she loves cooking, traveling, taking spin classes, and spending time outside with her husband and two boys, Henry and Grant.
Born in New Orleans but raised in East Tennessee, Hugh has lived and worked all across Tennessee. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Memphis State University and a Master's Degree in Forestry from the University of Tennessee. Over the years Hugh has worked for universities, state parks, and another land trust but joins TRGT after working as a Field Forester for 13+ years with Tri-State Forestry Consulting, Inc. Hugh has travelled with his wife and son from the Virgin Islands to Alaska, and enjoys sharing a wide variety of outdoor adventures with them including bird watching, backpacking, hunting, fishing, and a variety of paddle sports.
Holland is a native of the South Carolina coast, and a graduate of Clemson University. She has enjoyed working environmental conservation jobs in Wyoming, Mississippi and Texas; and recently left her position with the SC Department of Natural Resources in Charleston to move to Chattanooga. She is thrilled to be here, where she is pursuing her Masters of Environmental Science degree at UTC while working with the TRGT conducting Worm-eating Warbler research.
Eliot, a Chattanooga native, received his Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies from Sewanee: The University of the South. Before returning to Chattanooga, Eliot worked with a land trust in Northern Virginia. He has enjoyed working and studying within the conservation field, pursuing a variety of forestry and wildlife based projects. Eliot has also worked on public access endeavors on various blueways and greenways, such as the Rapidan River in Virginia and Hiwassee River in Tennessee. When not working, you will likely find Eliot in the river kayaking or fishing.
Melissa moved to Chattanooga in August 2016 from Bloomington, Indiana after earning a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. While her formal training is in Limnology, Melissa plays a dynamic role at the Trust. She assists with our Water Quality Program and Avian Research, and is also a Program Director for Bridge Chattanooga- an afterschool curriculum which connects Chattanooga’s inner-city students to nature. Melissa is passionate about conservation, wildlife and our natural resources. When not working, you can find her trail running with her dog Lucas, rappelling into caves or climbing sandstone bluffs.
Clark was born and raised in the East Lake and Brainerd communities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a child, Clark attended several private schools that gave him a view of life outside of his neighborhood. As he grew up, he realized that there are two Chattanoogas and has made it his life's work to help bridge the gap between them by serving in programs that help youth reach their potential. Clark has one son who is currently in the 5th grade. Being a great father figure while raising his son in a positive manner is one of his top priorities. After partnering with several non-profit organizations, childcare providers, and outdoor programs, Clark became acquainted with the Tennessee River Gorge Trust in the Fall of 2016. By Spring of 2017, he was helping the Trust implement a pilot program to connect students at Dalewood Middle School to outdoor experiences within our city.