To conserve natural resources and improve rural economies through community leadership and enhanced educational opportunities.

Meet the Team

Image of Susan McKinney, Executive Director.

Susan McKinney, Executive Director

Ms. McKinney has 30+ years of professional experience with over 15 of those working in the nonprofit sector. In her current position as Executive Director at ARCD, Susan oversees the daily operations of the organization and serves as project director for two of the organizations programs. Her work at ARCD includes development of rural and urban agricultural programs, sustainability of local food systems, economic development, youth environmental education, as well as conservation of farm lands and natural resources.  Susan has a Masters of Public Administration degree from East Tennessee State University in Nonprofit Management.  She serves as on the Steering Committee of NeTREP’s Outdoor Task Force, on the Advisory Committee for Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research, and is Treasurer for the Washington County Agricultural Partnership. 

Connect: 423-427-0560 / susan@arcd.org

Profile Image of Lexy Close, Project Director

Lexy Close, Beginning Farmer Services Director

Lexy is a native of Northeast Tennessee with a Masters from Clark University. After 7 months WWOOFing in Europe, Close returned home to apply her passion for sustainability by improving rural economies through sustainable agriculture. She co-founded the community organization “Build It Up East Tennessee”, which since 2012 has established three vibrant community gardens in low-income neighborhoods. Their growers cooperative produces thousands of pounds of food each year and Lexy is responsible for much of this coordination and coaching. She came onto the ARCD team as the Local Food Promotion Coordinator and grew to be a regional expert on local food markets and products. Now she is the director of the Field School, the beginning farmer training program & network that has been growing and succeeding in educating and preparing new farmers in 2015. The Appalachian Farmacy coalition is under her purview as well.

Connect: 423-427-0549 / alexis@arcd.org

Profile Image of Rachel Armor, Project Director

Rachel Armor, AppalCorps Program Director

Rachel is a native of Bristol, Tennessee, and first joined the ARC&D in 2015 as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Before that she was a local arts coop business owner in downtown Bristol, and for a decade she educated hundreds of tourists and locals as an environmental tour guide on the Nolichucky River. Through the ARCD, she has developed the TN FarmLink program, directed a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Project, and is the current AppalCorps Program Director. Her experience in program management, community leadership, event logistics, marketing and public communications, and agritourism development is put to good use connecting community members and partner organizations to the resources they need.

Connect: 423-427-0547 / rachel@arcd.org

Profile Image of Kayla Nichols, Marketing & Communications Director

Kayla Nichols, Marketing & Communications Director

Kayla joined ARCD in 2018. Prior to joining ARCD, she worked in the marketing industry in various roles since graduating from East Tennessee State University in 2014. Her previous roles include work on the Kingsport Carousel Project, Social Media Coordination at AccelNow, Digital Content Coordination at the Bristol Herald Courier, and most recently Marketing Project Coordination at Biltmore Estate. At ETSU she studied Marketing and Management and interned at Engage Kingsport and AccelNow (two non-profits in Kingsport). Those internships sparked a desire to help the economy of our region to continue to grow. At ARCD, Kayla is responsible for public and media relations, social media, external communications, and more. Essentially, she is responsible for telling our story. She grew up in Fall Branch, Tennessee, and now resides in Jonesborough.

Connect: 423-427-0546 / kayla@arcd.org

Profile Image of Aubrey Baker, Community Relations and Advancement Director

Aubrey Baker, Community Relations & Advancement Director

A native of Knoxville, TN, Aubrey is thrilled to have relocated to the beautiful Tri Cities area in 2020. Inspired by the dedication to economic development and positive impact on physical health outcomes, Aubrey recently joined the team at Appalachian RC&D Council. As the Manager of Community Relations & Advancement, Aubrey garners support and industry advocacy to leverage philanthropic giving and create sustainable funding streams. With over a decade of program development and implementation experience, Aubrey is passionate about engaging communities with initiatives that increase access to lifelong learning opportunities. Her work has largely focused on cultivating strategic cross sector partnerships, maximizing resources to better serve the community. Most recently, Aubrey directed regional community relations and public programming for Kentucky Opera. In addition, Aubrey has taught in higher education as an adjunct professor with Roane State Community College and Tusculum University. A classical musician by training, Aubrey received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and Master’s degree from the University of Kentucky

Connect:  aubrey@arcd.org

Profile Image of Rosie McVeigh with white AmeriCorps logo on the lower right corner

Rosie McVeigh, Sustainable Agriculture Program Coordinator

Rosie joined ARCD in 2020 through the AmeriCorps program, and was then hired on directly to continue her work with Build It Up and Field School. She graduated from ETSU in December of 2019 where she studied Anthropology, Spanish, and Public Health. Before joining the ARCD, she worked for the Town of Jonesborough managing the Ardinna Woods Arboretum. Rosie was born and raised in Northeast Tennessee and her family participated in many food co-ops growing up. Her family also utilized most of their property to grow all their own fruits and vegetables along with eggs. This self-sustained way of living inspired her to work in agricultural sustainability and food insecurity. She has a passion for this work, and is proud to be a part of the ARCD.

Connect:  rosie@arcd.org

Board of Directors

Roy Settle, Chair
Lynice Broyles, Vice-Chair
Linda Crouch-McCreadie
Heidi Davis
Wayne Davis
Ron Dawson
Lewis Haynie
Bonnie Macdonald
Steve Mallory
Alicia Phelps
Kenny Smith
Mark Stevans
Dana York

What Does “RC&D” Mean?

Resource Conservation & Development

The Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council is 501(c) (3) non-profit organization chartered in 1994. Our Board of Directors includes representation from across the region.

Our mission is to conserve natural resources and improve rural economies through community leadership and enhanced educational opportunities.

We work to preserve our heritage, promote local growers/producers and protect the lands of past generations so that future generations may be able to enjoy the natural wonders our region has to offer.


Farm Fresh Appalachia

Funded by an FMPP grant from the USDA, Farm Fresh Appalachia is a local cohort of organizations lead by ARCD with a goal of promoting and supporting local farmers markets.

Field School

Field School is a beginning farmer training program that is hosted by ARCD and Green Earth Connection, and is supported in large part by USDA and TDA in addition to many local organizations.

Build It Up East TN

Build It Up offers training, education, and resources for backyard gardening to families in Northeast Tennessee. The program has helped over 100 families learn to grow their own food, thereby mitigating the impact of food desserts.


ARCD’s work in conservation includes water quality restoration, land conservation, and wildfire risk mitigation. ARCD also facilitates Envirothon for Northeast Tennessee which teaches high school students about the environment.

Appalachian Quilt Trail

The Quilt Trail is a database of local barns that display a quilt block for the public to see and appreciate. The database is maintained by ARCD, but is not currently accepting new barns to be added to the trail.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits federally assigned programs from discriminating based on race, color or national origin. The Appalachian RC&D Council also requires that its services and programs be offered to all eligible persons regardless of race, color or national origin, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.