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Nature center director praised
by James Swift
June 27, 2014 12:20 PM | 2426 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In January, Chris Nelson took over the reins as executive director of the Chattahoochee Nature Center. He follows in the footsteps of Ann Bergstrom, who served as the center’s executive director for 15 years.

Longtime center board member Bob Hagan said the organization is excited to have Nelson aboard. He said he believes Nelson’s vibrant personality will take the center to the next level.

“He’s community-driven and wants to be involved in the community,” Hagan said. “He knows a lot of big foundations … he has vast experiences in this type of organization.”

Center Finance Director Karen Ewing said Nelson brings a fresh perspective to the center, and has helped introduce the organization to new business contacts and potential supporters.

“I feel that Chris’ strength and experience lie in operations, event management and facilities management,” she said.

Center board president Maureen Cowie, said Nelson had the “absolute skillset” the organization desired.

“He just checked off all the boxes of what we needed for a director,” she said. “His years at Piedmont Park Conservancy gave him a background in a lot of what we need.”

Nelson worked at the Atlanta conservancy for 14 years, serving as Piedmont’s chief of operations and executive vice president. A center search committee scouted potential executive directors for six months before Nelson was selected.

Hagan said Nelson met with several elected officials and is reviewing suggestions from board members and staffers.

“He hasn’t made any changes yet, and that’s what’s good,” Hagan said. “He’s just sitting back, taking it all in. He’s met with all of the board members individually, wanting to know their concerns and what they can do, or what he can do, to make things better.”

Cowie said Nelson has spent the last six months learning the ins and outs of the organization’s programming and day-to-day operations.

“He hit the ground running,” she said. “He’s been meeting with major donors and he’s trying to partner with other environmental groups in the Atlanta area.”

Nelson has already won the respect and admiration of his staff, Cowie said. “There’s a really great energy on the ground and in the offices when you’re there,” she said. “I attribute that to him and his ability to build the team.”

Ewing said Nelson is personable and easy-going. “He is very knowledgeable and passionate about the environmental issues that affect the Chattahoochee River, its watershed and the local community,” she said. “All of these things in aggregate make him an excellent fit for the Chattahoochee Nature Center.” More information can be found at

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