Susan McKinney has been announced as the new Executive Director for the Appalachian RC&D Council, based out of Johnson City.

For 25 years the Appalachian RC&D Council has united regional cooperation on environmental conservation and agricultural sustainability in Carter, Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties. Some of the organization’s most visible projects center around agricultural development, including the Quilt Trail agritourism initiative of northeast Tennessee, the Field School beginning farmer training program, and Farm Link, a matching service between landowners and those seeking land for starting a new farm.

McKinney comes to the Appalachian RC&D with a wealth of experience in nonprofit, project, and cultural-sector management. From 2014-18 she served as the Administrative Director for Tennesseans for the Arts, the statewide organization that advocates for bi-partisan support for funding of the arts at the state level, where she was responsible for organizational operations.  During that time, McKinney increased the organization’s earned income by over 50% and nearly doubled the number of grassroots members.  In addition, she has coordinated the past four years of Arts Advocacy Day on the Hill in Nashville and steadily increased new-audience engagement. McKinney holds a Master of Public Administration degree from East Tennessee State University with a concentration in nonprofit management.  Additionally, she holds a Master of Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design from East Tennessee State University.

Susan is a native of Washington County, Tennessee, where she grew up on a family farm that raised beef cattle, fruits and vegetables, and had a small apple orchard. In recent years, after going through the Field School Susan has put a portion of the farm into market production, growing chemical-free fruits and vegetables.

Appalachian RC&D’s current Executive Director Emily Bidgood will be leaving the organization at the end of June to move with her family to Europe, where her spouse, Dr. Lee Bidgood of East Tennessee State University, has accepted a year-long Fulbright Scholar research and teaching sabbatical.

“Emily has been exemplary in her leadership of conservation and sustainability through Appalachian RC&D. She will be missed by everyone who knows her, especially the local ag community,” said McKinney.