Dogwood Alliance is so very excited to finally announce our new Advancement Director, Holly Paar.
Holly comes to us with 20 years of experience in marketing and fundraising and a passion for our forests.
She first arrived in Western North Carolina when she was 17 as a transplant from Texas and never left. An excellent tennis player in high school, Holly was offered a dual academic/sport scholarship from WNC. She didn’t see the area until her parents dropped her off at the WNC campus, and it was love at first sight. Holly succintly explains,
“Home is here.”
Holly’s nonprofit career began with Mountain Youth Resources (now Children’s Hope Alliance), working at a group home for boys in Macon county. Holly describes the experience, “It ended up being some of the best learning of my life.”
At Mountain Youth Resources, Holly quickly advanced through the ranks, taking on projects of video and music recording with the kids (you can look at some of those videos here), an environmental awareness program that looked at biodiversity and stream monitoring, fostering community involvement in efforts to protect the Little Tennessee Watershed, establishing connections with Duke, leveraging some corporation sponsorships and creating a new project working with adoption, promotion and support in 11 counties.
When a Program Director position at Under One Sky opened up, it wasn’t long before Holly was offered the job. Holly loved that job and all the responsibility and freedom to make her dreams a reality. Eventually, however, the money ran out.
That was the first time Holly saw firsthand the effects of not having a strong fundraising infrastructure.
Despite the strain of extra work, Holly played a big part in keeping the organization open for another year.
Around that same time, Holly was asked to lead Blue Ridge Pride as a volunteer. Holly says of the superhuman amounts of work she did that year, “It almost killed me.” But Holly isn’t one to shy away from doing the work she loves. Luckily, she didn’t die, but using the hard lesson she learned at Under One Sky, she instilled the importance of fundraising in Blue Ridge Pride.
Eventually, Holly ended up in a fundraising position at March of Dimes where she honed her fundraising skills. She developed a passion for the mission by talking with families and learning about their human experiences.
She loved working with March of Dimes, but when a position opened up at Dogwood, she knew it was meant for her, “The mission of Dogwood is something I never had to be sold on because when I moved here 24 years ago, the forests fed my soul.” When Holly was interviewing for the position, she said,
“Just give me the opportunity to save my home.”
In her free time, Holly is an abstract painter (you can see some of her work here); she got her love of painting from her mother who is an artist. Holly has had shows in Asheville over the last couple of years. Holly enjoys composing classical music on the guitar. She also studied Wilderness Education under Paul Wolf. Finally, Holly teaches a series of workshops in Asheville, NC geared towards cultivating your creativity.