SUSAN MILLS, Ph.D.
In a world where most everyone seems to live in the moment, Susan Mills wants to hang onto some valuable things from the past. As Executive Director of FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Inc., she works with government officials, land conservation groups and volunteers to preserve the physical and spiritual beauty of Appalachian heritage.
For her, that heritage is embodied in the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile, two-lane highway designed to provide a cinematic driving experience with a compelling view around each turn. A 1930s federal government project intended to provide jobs and promote tourism, the Parkway’s photogenic 360-degree views became a symbol of American’s rural heart. Susan has made it her passion to see that those views are preserved.
A Hillsville native, she counts among her close relatives some of the original settlers of Carroll County and recalls the glorious days she spent there as a child. Her grandfather owned a cabin and a farm right off the Parkway at Fancy Gap. She said she has incredible memories as a child. One day she picked berries on one hillside while a bear fed on the opposite hill. It was not fearful then to see a bear; it was just a natural part of life.
These kinds of memories are part of what it means to have a treasure like the Blue Ridge Parkway. You carry these experiences and visual memories with you through life. They become a part of your heart and you share them with other people in order to preserve them. The Parkway is part of her roots, a part of her identity.
Hanging onto valuable memories is also part of her life away from work. She lives in Salem with her husband, Bob, where she still makes pies from scratch and enjoys rock sitting while her husband fly fishes. The landscaping at her home used boxwood clippings from shrubs that were 35 years old that her mother started from her grandfather’s boxwoods.
Contact Susan at email@example.com.
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AND OUTREACH
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
MEMBERSHIP & DONOR SERVICES