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.
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.
Business & Community Access Director, Avian Researcher
Eliot, a Chattanooga native, received his bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Sewanee: The University of the South. He is currently completing his master’s degree at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Before returning to Chattanooga after Sewanee, Eliot worked with the Piedmont Environmental Council in Northern Virginia as a research fellow. He has worked in various roles in the Chattanooga conservation and outdoor recreation field with Thrive 2055 and Outdoor Chattanooga. He has enjoyed pursuing a variety of conservation, wildlife research, and outdoor recreation projects. Eliot has 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.
Conservation Director, Avian Researcher
Angie is originally from Connecticut but was drawn to the Cumberland Plateau by her undergraduate work in environmental studies at Sewanee: The University of the South. Before beginning her graduate work, Angie led trail crews in the Rocky Mountains, and studied birds as a field technician in Northeast Tennessee and Big Bend National Park, Texas. Angie graduated from Appalachian State University with a master’s degree in biology and a focus in cliff ecology. Before joining the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, Angie taught environmental science at Girls Preparatory School and served as the Stewardship Director at the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. When not at work, you can find Angie rock climbing, trail running, gardening, or playing with her dog, Woody Guthrie.
Field Technician Intern
Juan Sandoval, originally from Mexico, now lives in Athens, TN and has recently received his Associate Degree from Chattanooga State Community College. While at Chattanooga State, Juan studied computer science for 2 years and was involved in various clubs and organizations such as the Psychology Club, Multicultural Club, and Global Scholars peer mentor program. Juan also served as the vice president of the Student Government Association. Before coming to TRGT, Juan worked at Variable, Inc. as an electronics technician and as an intern for the City of Chattanooga, and currently works for the Chattanooga Football Club on weekends. He plans on continuing his education towards a bachelor’s degree in computer science. During his free time, he enjoys going to concerts and relaxing in his hammock.
Field Technician Intern
Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Caryn has a Bachelor of Science in biology from Longwood University and a Master of Science in environmental science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a focus in ornithology. Following graduation, Caryn worked as a wild bird rehabilitation intern at Vermont Institute of Natural Science, a leadership development member for American Conservation Experience in Flagstaff, Arizona, and then as a backcountry trail crew member for the US Forest Service in the Inyo National Forest. Caryn has also worked in avian research as an assistant bird bander for the Cagan Sekercioglu Lab at the Rio Mesa Research Center outside of Moab, Utah and as a crew leader for a bird survey crew in Glasgow, Montana. Over the years, her research interests have revolved around avian conservation, the effects of urbanization, and use of citizen science data. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, practicing guitar, and rock climbing.