Staff

Staff

Garrett Artz | Executive Director

828.252.8474 ext 16 | garrett@riverlink.org

garrettartz

Garrett is the Executive Director of RiverLink. He is a native of a rural town in Pennsylvania and brings a diverse set of experiences to RiverLink. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Navy Flight Training as a designated Naval Aviator, he served 10 years on active duty and gained valuable experience as a senior manager, instructor pilot, and helicopter aircraft commander.

In 2008 after graduating from Law School, he moved with his family to Asheville and began his legal career at Pisgah Legal Services and later worked as corporate counsel for a local military contractor. In 2014 he co-founded a walking and biking advocacy group, Connect Enka, in Enka-Candler working to make the area along Hominy Creek and Enka Commerce Center friendly to people who want to bike or walk safely.

He continues to be active in the community and is a member of the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers, the Buncombe County Land Conservation Advisory Board, and is a League Cycling Instructor. In his free time, he likes to bike, hike, canoe, and camp in the local WNC Mountains with his family.

Suzanne Moore | Development Manager

828.252.8474 ext 12 | suzanne@riverlink.org

Suzanne is a native of Winston-Salem where she grew up exploring creeks and enjoying other outdoor adventures.  Her love for exploring prompted her to take some extended time away from college to travel.  During this time, she lived in Dillon, Colorado, backpacked through the mountains of Alaska, and ultimately moved to Morgantown, West Virginia.

Suzanne finds her true passion is in the nonprofit sector.  After finalizing her degree in Fine Art and Political Science, she returned to the nonprofit sector.  She has extensive experience in the Development field having worked for the Alzheimer’s Association, WV Chapter, directing the efforts of Friends of Deckers Creek in Morgantown, WV, and serving on the Development Committee for a small organization that promotes biking for all ages.  She gladly returned to her home state to work with RiverLink.  Her passion for environmental stewardship, water resources, and the arts make RiverLink the perfect organization for her to share her expertise in development and passion for conservation.

In her spare time, she enjoys adventures with two children and dog Toby, making pottery and enjoying the outdoors.

RJ Taylor | Land Protection Manager

828.252.8474 ext 11 | rj@riverlink.org

RJ grew up in northern Indiana but has always considered the South as his true home.  Much of his early years were spent exploring in the woods or playing in the streams and wetlands of his Indiana home and his family lands in Kentucky.   A scientist at heart, he could be found running barefoot through the woods and climbing trees, playing with his chemistry set or dissecting earthworms in the garage.  He has always had a bond to the land and to the natural features in the landscape.

After graduating with a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of South Carolina, RJ spent many years as a geologist in the oil/gas business along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas.  When the cyclic nature of that industry resulting in a layoff on EarthDay, RJ saw it as a sign from the heavens and left that industry for a change in his career path to environmental sciences.  Since then, he has worked for several environmental consultants in Texas and for a county agency that managed the bayous and other waterways in Houston, Texas.

After the experiences of volunteering with a number of non-profit land and water conservation groups,  he was offered the position of Conservation and Stewardship Director of a land trust protecting urban and rural lands in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.  He has recently moved here to Asheville area to follow his bliss and be a part of the culture and outdoor attributes of western North Carolina.  His passions include the study of native plants, natural habitats and work on river systems.  With previous certifications in wetland sciences and environmental studies, RJ feels that his role as a steward of the natural ecosystems and the landscape is an important calling in his life.

RJ enjoys hiking, camping, biking, and kayaking, along with travel and the study of nature.  Like when he was a boy, he still enjoys getting outside and exploring our amazing natural world.  Many years of experience in working with land and water have taught him that protection and conservation of our surface and groundwater water resources is an important objective for all landowners and our communities.

Renee Fortner | Watershed Resources Manager 

828.252.8474 ext 14 | renee@riverlink.org

reneefortner

Renee grew up along the New River in Ashe County, N.C. where she spent most of her childhood exploring the woods and creek near her home. Her childhood experiences instilled an unwavering love of the outdoors and passion for conservation. Renee’s interests eventually led her to Asheville where she pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from UNC-Asheville and later an M.S. in Biology from East Carolina University.
Renee holds professional certificates in Stormwater BMP Inspection & Maintenance and Residential Rain Garden Design from N.C. State University. She is also a Board of Trustee for the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway.
While living in Asheville, Renee has been drawn to the surrounding rivers, whether it was canoeing the French Broad, swimming in the Swannanoa, or rafting the Nolichucky where she and her husband Dave were married. As the Watershed Resources Manager, Renee is excited to apply her skills to the conservation of the surrounding rivers, which are vital both ecologically and economically to this area in which we live.

Justin Young | Program Manager

828.252.8474 ext 13 | justin@riverlink.org

Justin originally served for two years as an AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator at RiverLink. After creating a strong bond with the communities and ecosystems of the French Broad River he was brought on full time to manage RiverLink’s volunteer and education programs. A true native of North Carolina, Justin was born and raised in Raleigh and attended school at Appalachian State University where he studied Sustainable Development. Between college and RiverLink he studied glacial retreat in the Peruvian Andes and served with the Maryland State Park Service.

Justin has a particular expertise in graphic design, outreach, environmental education, event management and invasive control methods. Now that he has settled in Asheville he’s excited to bring his experience and passion for aquatic ecosystems to the people of the watershed. He hopes to inspire, teach and encourage new groups of people to appreciate and protect their natural surroundings. If you need to find Justin he’ll likely be floating down a river, hiking up a mountain, playing with art supplies or enjoying a nice cold beer.

Katy Palombi | Office Manager

828.252.8474 ext 10 | katy@riverlink.org