September 18, 2023

The Fund Welcomes Two New State Directors in NC & TN

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Conservation Fund is excited to announce two new state directors in the southeast region. These talented individuals will help bring conservation solutions to their respective states to solve our most pressing challenges like climate change, recreational access, biodiversity protection and community development.

Guenevere Abernathy, North Carolina State Director

Guenevere has over 25 years’ experience leading and implementing projects in the nonprofit and real estate sectors. Her career thus far has included founding and leading a conservation real estate company, a mobile local food market and advising impact and women led start-ups. She also led the protection of many important conservation sites within the state’s triangle region at her former role at the Triangle Land Conservancy and in the Great Lakes region with The Nature Conservancy. Guenevere is excited to get back into the field of conservation where her career first began.

As the new North Carolina state director, Guenevere will continue our conservation legacy across the state, from the beloved Smoky Mountains in the west, to fragile coastlines in the east, and everything in between. She will be based out of the Fund’s North Carolina office in Chapel Hill and can be reached at and 919-824-9839.

The Conservation Fund’s previous North Carolina state director, Bill Holman, will be transitioning into retirement and will serve as senior advisor through 2023. Bill’s legacy at the Fund and as a renowned conservationist in North Carolina will be treasured for generations to come.


Zachary Lesch-Huie, Tennessee State Director

Zachary joins the Fund after working for a breadth of conservation organizations, including the American Chestnut Foundation, Blue Ridge Conservancy, and the Access Fund. He brings more than 15 years of national and regional experience partnering with local communities, public agencies, and private landowners to conserve land and support sustainable access. His work in Tennessee includes successful additions to South Cumberland State Park, the Cumberland Trail, and the Obed Wild & Scenic River. He’s spent most of his life in the Southern Appalachian geography, including western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, where he’s been based for over a decade. He is eager to engage more deeply across the central and western portions of the state, as he broadens his conservation vision and helps shape The Conservation Fund’s Tennessee portfolio for future years. Zachary will be based out of Chattanooga and can be reached at and 828-545-7362.

The Fund’s previous Tennessee state director, Ralph Knoll, will be transitioning into retirement and will serve as a senior advisor through 2023. In over 15 years at the Fund, Ralph has completed a multitude of conservation transactions at some of the state’s most beloved destinations like the Cherokee National Forest and the Upper Cumberland Plateau.


About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit