2020 MountainTrue Award Winners

MountainTrue is proud to announce and recognize our 2020 Award Winners! Please join us at our Virtual Annual Gathering on October 21 to honor and celebrate these deserving individuals.

2020 Esther Cunningham Award: Representative Chuck McGrady

MountainTrue presents this award annually in the name of Esther Cunningham, a Macon County resident whose concern for our region’s environment prompted her to found the Western North Carolina Alliance (one of the organizations that merged to become MountainTrue). The award is presented to a MountainTrue member who has demonstrated outstanding community service in conserving our natural resources, and we are beyond honored to recognize a lifetime of service to environmental conservation and protection to this year’s awardee Representative Chuck McGrady.

  • 2010-2020: Served in the NC House of Representatives for the 117th District
  • 2004-2010: Served on the Henderson County Board of Commissioners
  • Served as the national president of the Sierra Club
  • First Executive Director of ECO, the Environmental & Conservation Organization of Henderson County
  • Longtime member and supporter of ECO and then MountainTrue
  • Spearheaded passage of the nationally groundbreaking 2014 coal ash bill that has since resulted in the excavation of every coal ash basin in North Carolina
  • Consistently the strongest Republican voice for funding the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund
  • Led efforts to create DuPont State Recreational Forest and advance state trail legislation
  • Secured renewed funding for the landslide hazard mapping program for Western North Carolina and new funding for hemlock restoration and environmental education


Central Region Volunteer of the Year: Maureen Linneman

  • Longtime Steering Team Member for the Creation Care Alliance
  • Leader and Co-Founder of Creation Care Eco-Grief Circles
  • Leads hikes and other experiences for CCA supporters
  • Has raised CCA’s voice at climate protests and rallies
  • Lifelong climate activist



Southern Region Volunteer of the Year: Suzanne Hale

  • Founder of Creation Care Alliance Leadership Team in Hendersonville
  • Serves on both the Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway and the Hendersonville Green Drinks Steering Committee
  • Supports various MountainTrue and Creation Care Alliance events through promotions, event planning, on site volunteering, and fundraising




High Country Region Volunteer of the Year: Craig Weaver

  • Volunteers supporting clean water through both our VWIN and SwimGuide programs in the High Country
  • Has been actively engaged through advocacy on the Beech Mountain Water Grab Campaign



Western Region Volunteer of the Year: Joan Parks

  • Connected MountainTrue with the Tuckasegee River Alliance for a meaningful partnership on developing the riverside park in Bryson City
  • Longtime supporter of all MountainTrue’s various programs
  • High engagement point earner for submitting many action alerts, attending multiple events and volunteering

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.