Our People


Katie Hess

Katie Hess

Director of South Mountain Partnership

Director of Pennsylvania Landscape Conservation

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

P.O. Box 122
Boiling Springs, PA 17007


Program ManagerJulia Chain

Julia Chain

Program Manager of the South Mountain Partnership

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

P.O. Box 122
Boiling Springs, PA 17007


DCNR Internal LeadTyler Semder

Tyler Semder

DCNR Internal Lead

Recreation and Conservation Program Specialist

PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry, Recreation Section

Phone: 717.772.4762


The South Mountain Partnership Leadership Committee

The Leadership Committee operates to provide strategic direction and oversight of the South Mountain Partnership. The Leadership Committee was convened in 2011 to ensure direct partner engagement in the Partnership’s work; the Committee represents the diversity of partners and interest areas of the broader South Mountain Partnership, and also reflects the region’s geography.

The Leadership Committee is currently comprised of the following individuals:

Holly Smith

Project Manager

Center for Land Use and Sustainability, Shippensburg University

Sarah Merritt

Director of Pennsylvania Creative Communities & the Creative Economy

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

Brendan Salyards

Manager, Economic Initiatives

York County Economic Alliance

Stephanie Williams

Senior Planning Manager

Cumberland County Planning Department

Elizabeth Grant, AICP

Planning Specialist

Cumberland County Planning Department

Roy Brubaker

District Forester – Michaux State Forest

DCNR-Bureau of Forestry

Steve Thomas

Planning Director

Franklin County Planning Department

Rob Thaeler

Principal Planner

Adams County Office of Planning and Development

Sarah Kipp

Conservation Director

Land Conservancy of Adams County

Patti Nitterhouse

Vice President

White Rock Inc.

Anne Walko

Senior Planner

York County Planning Commission

About Our Committees

The South Mountain Partnership operates through support of diverse and active committees that move the organization forward through programming, communications, and organizational development.

We are currently looking for new committee members and need great people like YOU!

If you strive to be a good communicator and a “doer” who takes action and gets things done, you may be a great fit! This opportunity is especially great for young professionals, those wishing to build their resumes and professional networks, and retired individuals. Each committee member contributes based on their own interests and strengths.

Contact Katie at khess@appalachiantrail.org or Julia at jchain@appalachiantrail.org, any current committee member to learn more or to submit a letter of interest and/or resume.

Communications Committee

Janet Pollard , Melodie Anderson Smith, Courtney Gotham, Kristen Rowe, Jared Abell, Andrew Gehman

Produces collateral and materials like flyers, brochures, newsletters and updates website. Facilitates improved communications that foster awareness and development of our goals, mission, strategies, and programs through print and electronic media, upholding and refining standards for the SMP brand, publicizing programs and initiatives, overseeing website content, and maximizing the use of resources for media and public relations.

Program Committee

Elizabeth Grant , Patricia Nitterhouse, Rob Thaeler, Onnolee Jansen, Frank Grumbine, Brendan Salyards, Sarah Merritt, Denise Tushingham

Guides and contributes to planning and running programs like the Spring and Fall Meetings and the Mini-Grants and Speakers Series programs. Develops, prioritizes, implements and evaluates partnership programs for consistency with our organizational mission and goals. The committee will focus on a thematic priority under the guidance of the Leadership Committee.

Research Corps Committee

Joe Baker, Aura Stauffer, Maria Bruno, Larry Klotz, Suzanne Hartley, Holly Smith

Guides the work of the South Mountain Research Corps and Science Summit.

Fundraising Action Team

Mike Eschenmann, Dan Brannen, Janet Pollard, Sarah Merritt, Mary Ann Leidigh, Caitlin Lucas, Sarah Kipp

Works with the Friends of the South Mountain Partnership and the sponsor program, attends events, and widens our circle.