The 15th Annual Hiwassee Watershed Gala took place at Young Harris College on Thursday, March 30, 2023. We enjoyed an evening of laughter, fun, and camaraderie… and we honored the winner of this year’s Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award! 

Charity Auction

Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2023 auction! 

The Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award

North Carolina water quality giant is namesake for the annual award.


Bill Holman was born and raised in North Carolina, graduating magna cum laude from NC State University in 1978 with a degree in Biology. He worked as executive director of the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund from 2001 to 2006. The NC General Assembly established the CWMTF in 1996 to help finance acquisition and restoration of buffers and wetlands, wastewater improvements, stormwater controls, greenways, and other water quality investments.

Holman served as Governor Jim Hunt’s Secretary of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources from 1999–2000 and as an Assistant Secretary from 1998–1999. Prior to service in these capacities, Holman is credited with helping to pass the Clean Water Responsibility Act of 1997, the Brownfields Cleanup Act of 1997, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Act of 1996, the Watershed Protection Act of 1989, and numerous other environmental bills as a lobbyist for state and national environmental and conservation groups.

Legislators, lobbyists and news reporters ranked him as one of the top 10 most-effective lobbyists in the NC General Assembly from 1985-1997. Before beginning his career, he hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1975. Holman directed Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions state policy program from 2007-2012.

Currently, he is the North Carolina State Director of The Conservation Fund. His current projects include supporting North Carolina’s conservation trust funds in the state legislature, protecting Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway, establishing Headwaters State Forest in Transylvania County, and working with utility companies to increase protection of water supplies. Holman has received several awards throughout his career. Most recently, the Water Environment Federation presented its Outstanding Contributions to the Water Environment for Non-Members Award to Holman in 2014. In 2000, Governor Hunt awarded him one of the state’s highest civilian honors, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Other awards include 1999 Conservationist of the Year by the NC Wildlife Federation.

Bill lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife, Stephanie Bass, a writer and consultant.

Past Holman Award Winners

2023 – Mayor Andrea Gibby & the City of Young Harris, GA
2022 – Jason Chambers
2021 – David Liden
2020 – Brenda “BK” Hull
2019 – Dave Hering

2018 – Gilbert Nicolson
2017 – Bill Kendall & Barbara Mathis
2016 – Nancy Troxler
2015 – Tom Bennett
2014 – David Wood

2013 – Bonner Leaders & Nathan Hughues
2012 – Lucy Cole Gratton
2011 – Silas Allen
2010 – Lamar Paris
2009 – Jim Dobson

About the Holman Award Trophy

David Goldhagen of Hayesville, NC, was commissioned to create the Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award. Goldhagen’s unique painterly approach to art glass marries bold colors to brilliant, clear crystal in a clean, modern style.

Of the piece Goldhagen created for this occasion, former HRWC member and volunteer, the late Tom Bennett wrote: “The torso shape suggests the strength of the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition and the power of water. The glass represents the fragile ecosystem of streams and rivers – the color of the living things in it that must be protected.”

Goldhagen’s work may be found in the permanent collections of numerous corporations, museums and foundations. More at