On Friday, I attended my last Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) board meeting in Gatlinburg. I’ve been on the board for six years – six years of attending board meetings, committee meetings and special functions.
GSMA is the cooperating association for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They manage the bookstores in the park and the ones outside connected with the park. When you buy a book or T-shirt in a Smokies store, you’re not buying from the federal government, but from a nonprofit organization, set up to sell educational material about the park.
They also publishes trail guides and maps. Associations donate part of their profits to national parks. Almost all national parks have cooperating associations. Eastern National manages the bookstores on the Blue Ridge Parkway and many small eastern parks that couldn’t sustain their own association.
Still, I was persuaded to stay on a committee, the Products Support Committee, the group that advises the staff on what products should be sold in a park store. Lots of rules about that. I won’t go into them. So some will say that I wasn’t released from GSMA, just on parole.
Departing board members get a nice watch with the GSMA bear paw logo. Here is Terry Maddox, Executive Director of GSMA, presenting me with a watch. Completely coincidentally, Terry is retiring in December. He’s been at the helm for over 25 years and it’s time for a new chapter in his life. Good luck, Terry!
One of the most exciting things I took part in is a search for a new ED. Some people are on the same boards for many more years and never get this chance.
After an exhaustive national search, Laurel Rematore is starting as ED in January. She was the ED of the Mesa Verde Museum Association in Colorado. Lenny and I were at Mesa Verde National Park last year for several days and loved it. Here’s the blog I wrote about it.
That evening, we went to the last Smokies Christmas Party and stayed in Gatlinburg. Good bye, Great Smoky Mountains Association. It was fun.