Staff

Red Mountain Park is owned and administered by the Red Mountain Greenway and Recreational Area Commission.  In 2007, the Alabama legislature declared the Commission a state agency, giving it exclusive control over the park site.  The Commission has oversight of every aspect of the planning and development of Red Mountain Park.  Each of the 15 commissioners is selected by one of eight appointing bodies (the Governor of Alabama, the Mayor of Birmingham, the Jefferson County Commission, the Jefferson County Mayors Association, USS Real Estate, the Freshwater Land Trust and the Jefferson County legislative delegation, which appoints one member from the county’s Alabama House delegation and one from the state Senate).

The Park’s operations are led by the Executive Director, David Dionne, and supported by the Park Staff. In addition, the Park is supported by an active and growing volunteer organization, the Friends of Red Mountain Park.  With more than 6,000 people connected by email and social media, this group provides support for various activities related to development of the park.  Members of the organization assist with park tours, provide labor for the ongoing cleanups and preparation of trails and natural areas, and take opportunities to promote the park in their neighborhoods and various community venues.

Meet Red Mountain Park's Dedicated Staff

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David Dionne

Executive Director

Ddionne@redmountainpark.org

David’s long and successful experience with parks and trails makes him the ideal person to lead the startup of Red Mountain Park. A native of Maryland, his career as a park director began in 1987, when he became the first superintendent of the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail Park, where he spearheaded innovations in various aspects of park procedures and operations. As chief of trails and natural areas for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, David led development of a trail system recognized nationally and internationally as a model for operation and safety.  From 2001 to 2005, he chaired the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a nonprofit organization with the mission of linking local trails from Maine to Florida in a continuous 2,900-mile route.

David holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wild Lands Administration from West Virginia University. He also attended the Maryland Park Service Warden School and Maryland Forest, Park, and Wildlife Ranger School. He has hiked, mountain-climbed, and kayaked wilderness throughout the United States and has completed four professional development courses at Outward Bound schools in North Carolina and Maine. 

A national leader in his field, David has long been a popular speaker at park and trail conferences throughout the country. Throughout his career, he has received national and international recognition for his ongoing work in developing trail operation policies and procedures, community-building programs and volunteer initiatives—all of which are critical components in the development plan for Red Mountain Park.  Most recently, David was selected as one of 25 recipients for the 2011 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions Award.  The award was established to commemorate the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's 25th anniversary by honoring a select group of individuals who have helped nurture and advance the rail-trail movement through their work, volunteerism, and support. 


One of the reasons Red Mountain Park has such potential is that people around the Birmingham region—citizens, businesses, philanthropic groups—have embraced it with such enthusiasm.  Everyone seems to see that this park can become a catalyst for dealing with a whole range of issues, from transportation to community development to public health.  I’m very hopeful we can have that kind of role in the community.

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Eric McFerrin

Park Ranger

Emcferrin@redmountainpark.org

Eric’s involvement with Red Mountain Park was sparked by his interest in the rich history of Birmingham and Red Mountain.  A proponent of historic preservation and a confirmed “urban adventurer,” Eric was familiar with much of the park site long before becoming its first Park Ranger, and his knowledge of both the site and the history of the iron and steel industry in Birmingham has been invaluable to the process of identifying and documenting historic places and structures within the park’s confines.

Prior to joining Red Mountain Park, Eric was Director of Aircraft for Birmingham-based BE&K.   He also is an active member of the Society of Industrial Archeology, a nonprofit, international organization dedicated to preserving industrial and technological heritage.  Eric is a native of Florida.


I believe Red Mountain Park can be a unifying presence for Birmingham.  Our park tells the story of 100 years of mining, railroads and ironmaking.  My goal is to help educate the public about that history, and to memorialize and celebrate the people who made it.

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Cynthia Tarver

Office Manager / Human Resources

Ctarver@redmountainpark.org

Cynthia Tarver was born and raised in Birmingham in a neighboring community called Wenonah. She attended Jacksonville State University majoring in Business Finance and also attended Herzing Institute. She is the youngest of six and she has a niece and a nephew that is a sister and a brother by God. Her hobbies include spending time with her family and enjoying her nieces and nephews, event planning and decorating, reading, shopping and listening to gospel and jazz music.


I am so excited about the project on so many wonderful levels and so amazed that I grew up around what I call a treasure for the future. I am so excited to be apart of something great for the city of Birmingham.

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Katie Sullivan Bradford

Public Relations Coordinator

Katie@redmountainpark.org

Katie's focus at Red Mountain Park includes the areas of public relations and community outreach.  She also manages park projects; one of her major projects is the Oral History Project, which also happens to be one of her favorite.  Katie also directs the park's service projects with scouting and youth organizations.
 
Katie received her bachelor and masters degrees in Communication from the University of South Alabama.  Prior to joining Red Mountain Park, she worked for two non-profit organizations in the areas of public relations and marketing.  She volunteers often with youth programs and recently served as a Junior Board Member for Camp Smile-A-Mile.

Recreation in such a beautiful and significantly historic place will energize and enrich our community and region.  The mountain that made so much possible for our city will once again hold a meaningful purpose.

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Leigh Laser Collins

Director of Development

Lcollins@redmountainpark.org

A Birmingham resident for 30 years and an Alabama native, Leigh’s career history is rich in diversity, having served for ten years as the Vice President of Financial Development for the Birmingham YMCA Association as well as having worked as Marketing Director for the nation’s third-largest book retailer. 

Leigh combines a genuine appreciation for community collaboration with fundraising expertise, supporting volunteers, donors and staff in bringing vision to fruition. Leigh is married to Kevin and has four beautiful stepchildren. She also embraces her roles as flutist and vocalist with the Advent Five O’clock Band and as a licensed Zumba instructor. 


To see our community embracing the benefits of walking, hiking, and biking trails in my lifetime is exciting. To have the privilege of being intimately involved in this movement is extraordinary!

Red Mountain Park already provides “Green Space” at its dynamic best, bringing individuals, families and friends together in an environment that naturally fosters diversity and health. My vision is simply one I share with others who love Birmingham as much as I do: To see our region celebrate – on a grand scale – the physical, economical, spiritual and unifying benefits that outdoor recreational areas provide.

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Rebecca Rodamar

Adventure Manager

Rrodamar@redmountainpark.org

Rebecca grew up amid the woods, water, and hills of Traverse City Michigan.  Putting on her first pair of skis at age five, she has enjoyed all things outdoors ever since.  Intrigued with the natural world, Rebecca persued a degree in Geology, followed by graduate coursework in Landscape Architecture.  Since her [school] days, Rebecca has received her Master Gardener Certificate and her Professional Nurseryman's license.  Ready for a break from the world of Garden Design, Rebecca turned her time to community building and raising her family.  Now, heading up the Red Ore Zip Tour, Rebecca puts her organizaional skills and love of adventure to work, assuring visitors to Red Mountain Park an experience they won't forget.


I want Red Ore Zip Tour to be on everyone's list of things to do, and once you're here, I want Red Ore Zip Tour to be everything you'd expected it to be, and more! A beautiful Canopy Course has you flying through the trees; bridge, swing, zips...it's all here. The guides are wonderful. All are trained and experienced and with great personalities, they will ensure you have a great time.

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Jeff Newman

Maintenance

Jnewman@redmountainpark.org

Jeff's involvement with Red Mountain Park has existed since his childhood- he grew up on the side of Red Mountain and explored it every Saturday.  In addition, the old Birmingham Mineral Railroad, the Valley View mine, and the Greensprings mine were all just feet from his back door.  His love for industrial history developed through the years and though he selected a career with Bellsouth, he spent his extra time hiking the mountain and reading about its history.

Jeff stayed with Bellsouth for 30 years before retiring in 2006.  After he retired, he began to spend more time on Red Mountain revisiting his favorite locations.  One day he was hiking the ridge between Songo and the No. 13 mine when he ran into a bulldozer operator.  He was clearing a road, and Jeff jokingly told him how great it would be if he could clear some other routes for hiking.  The operator told him that his wish would come true in the form of Red Mountain Park and Jeff immediately knew he had to be involved with the project.  He began to research the park project and was soon one of the Friends of Red Mountain Park.  He continued with his interests in clearing trails, and soon became Director of Land Stewardship on the Friends of Red Mountain Park Board.  When it came time for the park to begin looking for candidates to handle trail and park maintainance, Jeff was a natural fit.  He is thrilled at the amount of time he now gets to spend at the park each and every day.


Red Mountain is a place that brought together men with vision, determination, and great passion to succeed. As a result, Birmingham was born and out of the minerals red soil grew one of the greatest cities in the South. It grew so quickly that many said it must be a magic city. Today this great mountain of red is once again in a position to bring the magic back to Birmingham. I believe it is our responsibility to teach our great past and to provide a place to inspire the next generations to see our city's great future. We do this by sharing the history of the mountain, the richness of the diverse surrounding communities, and the life stories of individuals that made this magic come to be. The park setting will allow families, friends, and communities to gather together for recreation and relaxation for years to come.

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Tony Harper

Park Ranger

Tharper@redmountainpark.org

Tony is a Birmingham native who enjoys the history of Birmingham and Red Mountain. His favorite book is the Bible and his favorite teacher is Jesus. 

Tony received an Associate Degree in Fire Science at Jeff State and a Paramedic License through UAB. He has been involved with EMS since 1997 and has worked as a firefighter since 1999.

Tony enjoys outdoor activities, which include hiking, sea kayaking/canoeing, mountain biking and camping. He also enjoys wildlife, traveling, making memories with his family and meeting people.

I hope Red Mountain Park can play role in giving back and uniting the citizens throughout the Greater Metro area.

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Becky Rogers

Financial Development Associate

Brogers@redmountainpark.org

Becky joins the team as our Financial Development Associate. At an early age Becky was wandering trails and exploring the great outdoors. Red Mountain Park allows her to meld this passion for the natural world with her schooling in Conservation Sciences at the College of Santa Fe.

Prior to coming to Red Mountain Park, Becky worked with a Birmingham-based consulting company that helped nonprofit/for profit organizations function at a higher level. Additionally she helped develop ways to integrate sustainability practices into work culture and create opportunities to work collaboratively on sustainability issues through public-private partnerships. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Paul, and their dog, Deltron, being outside and using travel as an excuse to eat new foods.

As someone who didn’t grow up in Birmingham, I found the history of this mountain and promise of the Red Mountain Park development to be something that could help me connect and understand this city. I cannot yet think of one reason why someone would not be interested in learning more about this project or want to come out and explore. It’s extraordinary that Birmingham has this chance to restore a bit of history that might have otherwise been lost and find their own connection to the land. And when I travel I get to say, ‘Birmingham is a huge part of the national green space movement—you need to see it for yourselves’.

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Cheryl Dawley

Archaeology Department

Cdawley@redmountainpark.org

Cheryl began volunteering at Red Mountain Park as a student archaeologist three years ago. She has worked both as a field crew member and lab director and has assisted with artifact documentation, conservation and historic research. She now holds a part-time position in Red Mountain Park’s Archaeology Department where she is currently focused on designing the park’s educational outreach program.

Cheryl received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is currently working towards her Masters in Anthropology degree.  She is a member of the Alabama Archaeological Society and the Society of Industrial Archaeology.

There is a remarkable connection between Red Mountain and its surrounding communities. Its mining operations spurred the birth of the South’s first industrial city and helped write America’s future. Red Mountain ore may have laid the foundations for the city of Birmingham, but it was Red Mountain’s mining families that breathed life into it. These pioneers created a rich cultural heritage which has become the heart of Birmingham. The leadership and staff at Red Mountain Park are dedicated to protecting and preserving this mountain’s heritage. I am honored to be a part of this team and I believe Red Mountain Park will be a valuable asset to this community.

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Katherine Miles

Public Relations Associate

Kmiles@redmountainpark.org

A native of Homewood, Alabama, Katherine is a 2007 graduate of John Carroll Catholic High School. She attended the University of Alabama where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. While at Alabama she served as Chair for ADPi’s Philanthropy, the Ronald McDonald House. Katherine is active in the Birmingham Chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charity as well as Susan G. Komen for the Cure-supporting Breast Cancer Research. Currently, she is finishing her degree in Public Relations at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Katherine joined the Red Mountain Park staff in January 2012, as an intern for the Public Relations Coordinator.


I feel honored to be associated with the Red Mountain Park name. This is a project that will be beneficial to the city of Birmingham, as it will serve as a great destination to visitors of our city and state, as well as to the citizens of Birmingham and its surrounding communities. I look forward to educating younger generations on the historical significance of Red Mountain Park while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

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Will Collins

Programs Coordinator

Will Collins was born in Birmingham and attended Jacksonville State University; where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation Administration.  While in college, Will spent his summers in Black Mountain, North Carolina as a water ski and wake board instructor.  After college Will became the Recreation Services Director at Beverly Healthcare in Foley, Alabama.  He then spent two years as the Athletics Coordinator for Alexander City and later five years with the City of Orange Beach.  Before being hired as the Programs Coordinator at Red Mountain Park, Will spent nine months as the Parks and Recreations Director for the City of Clay.

He enjoys outdoor recreation and chose to make the move from athletics to outdoor recreation. Will and his wife Lorelle have a six year old daughter, Whitney.  In his free time Will enjoys scuba diving, boating, hiking and camping.      

Will’s vision for Red Mountain Park is to bring in large groups and special events into this urban green space.

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Reed Matte

Park Ranger

Reed, a Birmingham native, attended John Carroll Catholic High School and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. While at UAB he majored in Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology, and minored in Criminal Justice and Environmental Studies. Reed played soccer for the Blazers all four years of his college career and proudly states that UAB’s soccer program is consistently recognized as a Top-25 team in Division 1 athletics. In 2013 Reed was drafted as the 46th overall pick in the Major League Soccer (MLS) draft to the Columbus Crew. He has also played semi-pro for the Portland Timbers in Portland, Oregon.

Reed Joined the Red Mountain Park team in 2011 as an environmental science intern studying the return of Long Leaf Pines to the area. He enjoys freshwater fishing, deep sea fishing, camping, and skeet shooting, hiking and boating.

Red Mountain Park is an awesome project! When people visit this great place they are able to escape City life; they can relax and unwind in a beautiful setting. This Park is the backyard of Birmingham.

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Michael Davis

Park Ranger

A local to the Birmingham area, Michael Davis describes himself as laid back, with a “love life attitude.” He resides in Pleasant Grove with his wife of 14 years and their two children. Michael is a former Military man, having spent 12 years in the Navy. Aside from being a Park Ranger, Michael enjoys his career as a Field Trainer for the University of Alabama-Birmingham Police Department. His interests include cars, the Auburn Tigers and the Green Bay Packers. Michael has a passion for writing and is an aspiring author. He writes fictional horror stories and currently has four poems published.

I think Red Mountain Park is a positive extra to the City and I hope to see it maintain its wonderful allure.

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Ian Hazelhoff

Natural Resource Specialist

Ian Hazelhoff is a recent graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South (B.S. Biology), and brings a comprehensive skillset in forestry management and ecology.

Having developed and practiced extensive research in regional issues of forest health, Ian will evaluate the property of Red Mountain Park from a landscape scale down to the particular areas most affected by invasive plant species. Using mapping software, invasive "priority" zones will be established to better utilize park maintenance staff efforts. As these plots are targeted and remediated, novel habitats will be designed and integrated to reestablish native plant communities.

A Birmingham native that attended the Altamont School, Ian believes that effective landscape design and use brings the inherent value of the land to the forefront. Fostering interconnected environments and green space can increase the economic value of their surroundings while providing ecosystem services for communities in need. He hopes to be progressive in his approach to the rich natural and historic resources at Red Mountain Park.

What architect so noble...as he who, with far-reaching conception of beauty, in designing power, sketches the outlines, writes the colors, becomes the builder and directs the shadows of a picture so great that Nature shall be employed upon it for generations, before the work he arranged for her shall realize his intentions.

- Frederick Law Olmsted