Early in August members should have received an e-mail from the Nominating Committee soliciting names of potential candidates for the NCHPTA Board of Directors. Nominations are now closed. We have five seats open on the Board, and five names to be placed in nomination. The list of nominees will be voted on during our annual membership meeting at 10:00 am Saturday, September 30, 2023 at the Restaurant Lounge at Mount Mitchell State Park.  You may still write-in names of qualified persons, (i.e., members in good standing), directly on the ballot on the day of the elections.

The nominees are: 

Buzz Kaas

Joe Lappin (incumbent)

Diane Schramm

Susan Weller (incumbent)

Sandy Whitehouse


Later this month you will receive an email with all the details of the annual meeting.  We are excited to have special guest speaker Kevin Cox who will present photos and other information about the history of the park.

Remember, membership renewals are due this month and you must be current in your membership to vote at the meeting. 

We are excited about all that is happening at NCHPTA and look forward to seeing you at the annual meeting.  Come and join us as we share what we’ve accomplished in 2023, and the exciting plans we have for 2024!


Thank you,

NCHPTA Nominating Committee

Dennis Smith, chair

Robert (Bob) Widman

John Whitehouse


Short biographies of the candidates are below:

Buzz Kaas

I made my home in Barnardsville over 10 years ago, mainly because of the beauty of the Black Mountains and the Great Craggy Mountains that I see out my window each day.  NCHP came into focus during a hike on the Big Butt Trail when I noticed an NCHP sign.  The condition of the trail was exceptional, and it inspired me to find out more about the organization.  I met the Monday Crew on their lunch break at Walker Knob soon after, and they gave me information about joining up.  I retired in 2021 and started working with the Monday Crew then.  It gives me great pleasure to participate in the maintenance of the local trails and give back to the hiking community. I look forward to representing NCHP as a board member in the near future to expand my participation in the organization.

Joe Lappin

I have been a member of the NC High Peaks Trail Association and a regular member of the CMC/High Peaks Monday Crew for trail maintenance since 2012, when my wife and I moved to Burnsville.  Since that time, work on the Monday Crew and miscellaneous contributions to High Peaks’ efforts in support of the local environment, people, and community have been a major part of my life in Western North Carolina.  For me and many others, High Peaks offers rewarding opportunities to serve both the environment and community. 

Following a Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1966, my professional career involved research and teaching in the Psychology Dept at Vanderbilt University, from 1968 – 2005.  After retiring from the active faculty in 2005, I have had an appointment as Research Professor as well as Professor Emeritus at Vanderbilt.  Continuing collaborations with colleagues at Vanderbilt and elsewhere have enabled continuing involvement in research.  My wife and I lived in Sarasota, FL from 2005 to 2012, where I volunteered in several roles at the Mote Marine Aquarium and Research Laboratory.

Diane Schramm

Hi everyone!  My name is Diane Schramm and I have lived here in this area for the past 4 years.  My husband, Joe, and I came here to work at Black Mountain Campground for the season as hosts.  We took our job, having never been in this area.  When we arrived we felt like we won the lottery.  We fell in love with this forest and the people who come to hike, explore and live here.  A camper shared her love of hiking with ME and took me out on one of the trails.  She is now one of my closest friends and for the past 4 years I have hiked almost every day in these mountains. 

We, here at Black Mountain Campground, and,  me personally, so appreciate the work of High Peaks.  You all inspire me and encourage me to give it forward.  I am flattered that someone thought to ask me to be on your board and if selected, I will do my very best. 

Susan Weller

I have been hiking and backpacking in the Black Mountains with my husband Worth since the late 1960’s. In 2011, I retired from a career in K-12 education in Indiana, and we moved permanently to the Cattail Creek community. We had been reading about NC High Peaks in the Yancey paper and on Facebook and couldn’t wait to start participating.

I filled a vacant board position in 2012 and soon after began serving as Treasurer of the organization. I also help to update information on the website and Facebook and send out announcements to members via email. I look forward to continuing to support the work of High Peaks.

Sandy Whitehouse

My husband and I bought land in the Pensacola Area in 1998 and built a home that has views of the Black Mountain Range on the property and moved up here full time in 2005.  My background work wise was about 20 years in the travel industry, as a Travel Agent, first in Australia where we lived for 5 years, then, I became a Manager of a Travel Agency in Connecticut, followed by being the Director of a Travel School, then, I worked for American Airlines.  Later, we moved to South Carolina where we purchased an Antebellum Plantation House, which we converted to a Bed and Breakfast and we welcomed guests from around the country and overseas and also catered parties, receptions, wedding, etc.  After we sold the that house, I became a REALTOR and worked in South Carolina for 2 years and then obtained my North Carolina Real Estate License and began working in Yancey/Mitchell County.  I was voted REALTOR OF THE YEAR twice, and was the President for the Yancey/Mitchell Board of Realtors. I retired in 2018.

Since John was one of the founding members of High Peaks, (established 2010) I’ve been involved with the group since inception.  John and I had found and joined Carolina Mountain Club right after we moved here full time, so we were/are involved in their hikes and  trail work.  When High Peaks was formed, I worked with John helping out and continued to participate in hikes, trail work, fund raising events, etc.  Although I don’t join the  trail crews regularly now, I do try to provide “refreshments” for the workers, and go out with John when he needs me and do things behind the scenes.  I do join in High Peaks' moderate hikes and enjoy them greatly.  

High Peaks is so much a part of our lives, I don’t remember when we weren’t doing “stuff” for High Peaks.  

I would be very honored to be a Board Member and help continue this fantastic organization.