Faculty and Staff 2018-01-05T10:31:24+00:00

Program Staff

Tiffany Beachy – Manager of Science Literacy & Research

Tiffany was born and raised in Roanoke, VA.  She earned her BS in Wildlife Science from Virginia Tech in 2003 and her MS in Wildlife Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2008, where she studied Cerulean Warblers.  She lived the life of a bio bum for a while and has participated in avian research in Tennessee, Canada, Mexico, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, Venezuela, and Missouri.  Her hobbies include bird-watching, hiking, backpacking, traveling, star-gazing, running, biking, listening to live music, dancing, cooking, drawing, reading, writing, spending quality time with close friends and family, learning, worshipping God, and just being outside.

Caleb Carlton – Manager for Innovation & Assessment

Caleb holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Applications from Michigan State University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree from Mississippi State University in Environmental Geosciences with a focus in STEM Education Design and Delivery. Caleb directs the Smokies to Schoolyards Initiative for Tremont, which aims to expand the capacity of communities and schools in East Tennessee to provide rich experiential learning opportunities for all ages. Caleb also manages program assessment and organizational innovation, and continues to teach in a variety of Tremont’s programs. In his free time, Caleb operates a small produce farm, enjoys backpacking, writing kayaking, making music, traveling to Michigan, and spending time with his wife, son, and dog.

Elizabeth Davis – Teacher Naturalist

Elizabeth is a native East Tennessean who grew up backpacking and playing in the Smokies. She received a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology from Middlebury College (in the Champlain Valley of Vermont) in 2012. After college she continued to explore the east coast, working at John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, the Ashokan Center in the Catskills, and thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. She loves woodworking, exploring wild places, contra dancing, good books, dogs, spending time with family and friends, and dabbling in blacksmithing.

Kelly Lecko – Teacher Naturalist

Kelly grew up in Southern California, but has found her heart-home in Appalachia. Even before graduating from the University of Redlands, she was exploring the east coast with summer environmental education jobs ranging from Pennsylvania to Maine and Vermont. After receiving her B.S. in Environmental Science, she kept backpacking, canoeing, and leading outdoor educational experiences and flying home only for the winter holidays. Kelly’s passion for sustainable and mindful living lead her to Virginia for two years with the Allegheny Mountain Institute to learn about community building, homesteading, and local food systems. She returns to the outdoor education world at Tremont, bringing enthusiasm to build connections between individual hearts, our home planet, and the broader human community

Jeremy Lloyd – Manager of Field Programs & Collegiate Studies

Jeremy began working at Tremont in 1996. A native of Western Pennsylvania, he received a B.A. from Calvin College and an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He directs Tremont’s summer camps, hiking programs, college consortiums and family camps, and teaches several courses in the Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certification Program. He is the author of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Pocket Guide & Journal and A Home In Walker Valley: The Story of Tremont. Books, wilderness, fly-fishing, hunting, good food and good conversation number among his many loves. And of course his wife, Elan, who he married in 2006.

Jennie McGuigan – Manager of School Partnerships & Teacher Development

Jennie was born in Jacksonville, FL and spent most of her childhood mucking about the North Florida/South Georgia marshlands and waterways. In 1999, she received a BS in Recreation Management with a concentration in Outdoor Experiential Education from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. After that she spent 3 years, gaining experience working on educational farms, teaching at nature centers and leading backcountry travel expeditions throughout the US including being a Teacher/Naturalist at Tremont (2000-2001). Later, she attended Western Washington University, and graduated in 2004 with a Masters of Education in Natural Science/Science Education with a certificate in Non-Profit Administration and Leadership.

Jennie met her husband at North Cascades National Park where she worked as a Wildland Firefighter, and together they purchased a small farm and had two beautiful daughters (Olivia & Morgan). She continued to work part-time for a variety of EE organizations in the community, until working full-time as Program Supervisor for an Early Learning Center. Personally, Jennie enjoys gardening, saving heirloom seeds, watercolor painting, fishing, cooking, and martial arts. She also enjoys singing, music, laughing with friends, and spending time with my family.

Logan Rosenberg – Youth Programs Manager

Although he was born and raised on the eastern shore of Maryland, some of Logan’s favorite childhood memories were spent on vacation in the Smoky Mountains. He’s excited to have a job where he can help people make their own memories in such a special place. Logan has
undergraduate degrees in English Literature and French Language from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and a M.A. in Environmental Education from Prescott College. He has spent a few years teaching in schools and outside, most notably doing farm and wilderness education on a farm in Northern California. When not on the job he enjoys planning his future homestead with his wife, coming up with new nicknames for their cats and trying unsuccessfully to keep their beagle out of trouble. His favorite food is pad thai. Logan is a Level III Tracker certified by CyberTracker International and a certified Hidden Villa Naturalist.

Emily Stein – Youth Programs Coordinator

Emily grew up just outside St. Louis, MO, and earned her B.A. at Washington University in St. Louis. After spending her first summer after college as an Environmental Education Intern at Tremont, she taught in Minnesota Bluff Country and the Blue Ridge Mountains before returning to Tremont full-time. Emily is a Certified Interpretive Guide and Wilderness First Responder and holds a Teaching Certificate in Environmental Education from Hamline University. When not teaching, she enjoys cycling, cooking, reading, and doting on her pet tarantulas.

Gar Secrist – Teacher Naturalist

Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Gar first experienced Tremont with his school in 4th grade and couldn’t stop coming back. He has since worked here as a citizen science volunteer, intern, and Citizen Science Educator before taking on the role of Teacher Naturalist. Gar holds a B.A. in Biology from Maryville College, an M.S. in Marine Science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and a Wilderness First Responder certification. He has also worked in the middle school classroom through a GK-12 graduate teaching fellowship, taught outdoors at the McDowell Environmental Center in Alabama, and sailed on a research vessel guiding college students in oceanography studies through the Sea Education Association. Gar enjoys hiking, ultimate frisbee, playing music, citizen science research projects, and spending time with
family and friends.

Chris Wandell – Teacher Naturalist

Chris is originally from Central New York State, where he graduated SUNY ESF with a B.S. in Conservation Biology. After spending time as a Naturalist in New York, he moved to Tennessee for the first time to work at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. From there, he made his way all the way out to Washington state, then the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and the Bluff Country of Minnesota before landing once more in Tennessee. In his spare time, Chris enjoys reading, hiking, swing dancing, cooking, and entomology.

Tyler Gonzales – Teacher Naturalist

Tyler is native to Mansfield, Texas.  He received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Texas Tech University.  Before coming to Tremont, he taught 6th graders at Foothill Horizons Outdoor School in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  Tyler has also worked as an educator at a science museum, wildlife rehabilitation center, and various summer programs.  Tyler enjoys backpacking, birding, fishing, ice hockey, and reading.

Matthew Herron – Teacher Naturalist

Matthew grew up in Southeast Louisiana and graduated from LSU with B.A. in English and German where he studied creative writing and poetry. After spending two years at the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center, he received his M.S. in Biology from University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he studied forest ecology and restoration. Matthew is passionate about biodiversity, place-based education and [re]connecting people with the land that sustains us.

Lauren Anderson – Teacher Naturalist

Office and Support Staff

Julie Brown – Registrar/Assistant Office Manager

Julie has been in love with the Smoky Mountains from the time she began visiting the National Park on camping trips. She’s lived in Indiana, Ohio, Florida and Asheville, North Carolina. Julie says, “There is something about these mountains that I can’t explain to people who don’t feel it. I feel at home in these mountains. And at peace.” Julie says when it comes to learning about the flowers, trees, birds, and history of the Park, she can never get enough. She has a growing collection of old postcards, brochures, maps and books about the Smokies.

Tonya Campbell – Director of Finance & Administration

Tonya grew up froggin’ and fishin’ in the Great Lakes of the upper penisula of Michigan. Love for the outdoors was instilled at an early age. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from Lake Superior State University and most recently, a Masters in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Capella. She enjoys camping, hiking, biking, running and reading. But most of all, she enjoys being still in the mountains, engulfed in its beauty.

John DiDiego – Education Director

John grew up catching snakes and turtles in the creeks of upstate South Carolina, and he has never lost his love of wild things and wild places. He has a BA in English Literature from Notre Dame and an MS in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  In over 15 years experience in environmental education, he has worked in places as far-flung as New England, Georgia, Yosemite NP, and far eastern Russia; but there is no place he’d rather be than the southern Appalachians.  He enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, turning over logs, and playing/singing folk tunes.

Jennifer Jones, PhD – President & CEO

Dr. Jennifer Jones is an educator, practitioner, and academic who focuses on the relationships between people and nature, including conservation, global food sustainability, and environmental governance. She currently serves as the President & CEO of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Previously, she was a Program Director for the International Honors Program, part of World Learning, where she managed comparative college-level study abroad program on five continents and she has also served as a Visiting Professor at Williams College. She spent five years in South Africa studying the relationship between protected areas and neighboring communities and has taught, researched, and traveled in more than 30 countries. Additionally, Dr. Jones served in the Unites States Army Military Police Corp for five years. She received a Ph.D. and an MS in Environment and Society from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and a B.S. from the University of Florida.  She currently holds positions as an Adjunct Professor at Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Jen enjoys flatwater kayaking, veggie gardening, and playing with the critters.

Iris Hammond – Development Manager 

Iris Hammond is a Gatlinburg native and Pi Beta Phi alumna. Iris grew up exploring the Smokies and attended Tremont Institute as a student. Her love of nature and the mountains of East Tennessee followed her to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she obtained a B.S. in Marketing and Psychology and an M.S. in Education and Administration. Iris took these skills to Nashville and began working in development for a conservation organization, but her desire to be in the mountains led her back to Knoxville. Before beginning her next career, Iris completed a thru-hike from Mexico to Canada along the spine of the country, the Continental Divide Trail.  She brings her love of the outdoors and experience in development to Tremont Institute.  Iris enjoys hiking, reading, knitting, and playing in the river.

Laura Beth Denton – Marketing & Technology Coordinator

Laura Beth was raised in a small town west of Atlanta and received her B.S. in Art Marketing from the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia. After spending four years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Laura Beth fell in love with the mountains and moved to Tennessee. For the past two years, Laura Beth worked in marketing and development for a historic arts and crafts school in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She brings her skills in social media marketing and graphic design to Tremont Institute. Laura Beth enjoys hiking, weaving, camping and exploring the Smokies.

Greeting you in our store and welcome center:

Celeste Elias – Office Manager

Celeste grew up on a horse farm known as Lazy J Ranch in Kingston, TN. By five, she was a member of the P.O.A (Ponies of America) Horse Club and was traveling throughout the North and Southeast showing in Western pleasure, English and Trail classes. Each summer, Celeste and her family visited Townsend for vacation and visit with other horse riding enthusiasts. At the age of ten, Celeste made her first visit to Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont on a school field trip. Celeste graduated from Tusculum College with a Bachelor’s in Organizational Management and a focus in Human Resources. She is also a certified accounting specialist awarded from Pellissippi State. In 2017, Celeste and her family moved to Townsend and made the Smokies their home. 

Gail Amatangelo- Sales Associate
Lisa Conner – Sales Associate

Food Service and Grounds/Facilities Staff

Charice Davis – Chef Manager Food Services

In the kitchen keeping participants well-fed and happy:

Renee Bartilemeo
Chelsea Jennings
Julie Hatcher
Sherry Presley

Phillip M. Johnson (a.k.a. Doc) – Grounds and Facilities Manager

Doc was born and raised in the foothills of East TN. He has traveled enjoying adventures of all sorts and seeing the beauty that this world has to offer. Doc left East TN several times but has always been drawn back by its unique beauty and mountain magic. As the old saying goes “You can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man”. He has attended several community colleges for various subjects and enjoys learning new things. Doc is a TN State certified level III Firefighter, a EMT IV Therapy, High Angle Rope Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, a PADI Dive Master, Dive Equipment Specialist, NSS Cave Diver, USUA Pilot, USHGA Pilot and some other stuff too.  Some of his favorite hobbies are hang gliding, motorcycles, scuba diving, cave diving, ultra light flying, camping, hiking, spelunking, reading “The Good Book” and various other activities. Although time does not allow him to do all of these things as much as he desires, since he started a family, he still tries to balance a few . . . especially The Good Book.

Dalton Read – Grounds and Facilities

Born and raised in South Knoxville, TN, the Smoky Mountains and the Little River have always been home to Dalton. Growing up, hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, and going off-road were his favorite things to do besides playing drums and guitar. After graduating from South-Doyle High School, Dalton spent some time in a band touring all over the south eastern United States. After finding out the musician’s life wasn’t for him, he headed back home to the banks of the Middle Prong. After a bit of soul searching, he realized he wanted to work in the national park and shortly after joined Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Since then, “it has been the greatest thing that has ever happened” to Dalton.