2022 4 Under 40 Awards finalists - Non-Profit Professional

Posted By: David Jackson Chamber News,

Meet the finalists for the 2022 Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 4 Under 40 Non-Profit Professional award.

They will be honored along with finalists from the Business Owner, Education Professional, and Rising Star categories at the 2022 4 Under 40 Awards ceremony. The event takes place Thursday, April 28, 2022, from 5:30-7:30pm, at The Mill at Rock Creek.

Alex Fish has never been far from his home of Valle Crucis. He attended school at Valle Crucis Elementary School and started a career in the hospitality industry at 14-years old, when he rode his bike to wash dishes at The Columbine Restaurant in the Valle. At age 16 he served on the kitchen staff at Valle Crucis Conference Center and continued to work there part-time into his 20's. Alex worked with Gadabouts Catering while attending Caldwell Community College and Appalachian State University, where he earned a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree from the Walker College of Business. Upon graduation he served as Catering Manager at Bandana's BBQ before being hired as Banquet Manager at The Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock.  Drawn back home, Alex returned to Gadabouts as Catering Operations Manager for several years before reuniting with the Valle Crucis Conference Center team, where he currently serves as Food Service Manager. 

Sarah Grady is originally from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and moved to Boone in 2012. A career that started in Affordable Housing with AmeriCorps in Oak Ridge motivated her to seek further educational opportunities within the industry. Growing up she vacationed in Blowing Rock each summer with her family and used that connection to select Appalachian State University as her destination for a Master’s Degree in Building Sciences. Upon completing her degree in 2013, Sarah turned down more lucrative career opportunities off the mountain to stay in the place where she could have positive impacts on the community. She has found a professional home with Watauga County Habitat for Humanity, where she serves as the first Construction Manager in the organization's history. 

For over 15 years, Tom Henry has facilitated climbing and backcountry programs in a variety of terrain all over the United States and abroad. Working for organizations such as Outward Bound and NOLS helped shape his vision early on for excellence in adventure-based programming. Tom has a particular passion for crafting custom programs which promote stewardship and a model of leadership rooted in service. He has a B.A. in Parks and Protected Area Management from Clemson University and an M.A. in Educational Ministries from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 2014, Tom founded the non-profit Appalachian Mountain Leadership (AML), where he currently serves as the Executive Director. The AML  mission remains to foster and inspire servant leadership both in its program participants and its staff. Tom is a certified Single Pitch Instructor through the AMGA and holds a Wilderness First Responder Certification. Tom also teaches as an Adjunct Instructor for Appalachian State University's Recreation Management and Physical Education departments.

Caroline Poteat was born and raised in Drexel, North Carolina. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in
Political Science from American University in Washington, DC, she moved to Boone in 2006 to pursue
her graduate studies at Appalachian State University. She holds Master’s Degrees in Appalachian Studies and Geography. Since 2018, Caroline has served as Director of Development for Blue Ridge Conservancy.
Prior to joining the Conservancy, she served as Executive Director of Valle Crucis Community Park for
nearly a decade. Caroline is passionate about philanthropy and community service, particularly related to the environment and women’s issues. Her past board and committee memberships include the High Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Girls on the Run of the High Country, the Blue Ridge Conservancy Land Protection & Stewardship Committees, High Country Local First, and the Town of Boone Planning Commission and Affordable Housing Task Force. She is a member of the Boone Sunrise Rotary Club and serves as Vice Chair of the board of directors of the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge. In 2021, Caroline was honored as a Trailblazer by Business North Carolina magazine, recognizing professionals under the age of 40 who work in North Carolina cities and towns of fewer than 100,000 residents.