Southeast Regional Office: Meet Our Staff

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Don Barger – Senior Regional Director  - Southeast Regional Office

Before joining NPCA, Don worked as a community organizer for Save Our Cumberland Mountains, a highly respected citizens’ organization in the coalfields of Tennessee, and directed the Citizens Mining Project for the Environmental Policy Institute/Friends of the Earth. He also holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tennessee. 

Don Barger founded NPCA’s Southeast Regional Office in 1992. His work in the region since that time has resulted in a groundswell of public attention to the issue of air pollution at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Don shepherded a joint petition by NPCA and the City of Middlesboro, KY that resulted in protection of the Fern Lake watershed adjacent to Cumberland Gap NHP.  In another watershed nearby, Don was instrumental in stopping a proposal for a water supply dam upstream of the Obed Wild and Scenic River, forcing local utility districts into regional planning, and creating an ongoing Eastern Steams program that has set important precedents at the Buffalo National River and elsewhere.

Don was recognized by the National Park Service for his role in assuring the renovation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.  In addition, he was commended on the Congressional Record by Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) for his efforts to preserve two-thirds of the remaining private land to the Cumberland Island National Seashore.


Emily Jones, Senior Program Manager
Emily Jones came to NPCA after working for the Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Emily has a BA from the University of Tennessee and attended graduate school at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Social Work. Emily's work in non-profit development and education has honed a deep appreciation for diversity in people and cultures.  Her background includes promoting and implementing employee directed workplace giving programs, bilingual curriculum development, electronic books, biological inventories, as well as supporting just and sustainable rural community development.

Emily’s work at NPCA focuses on building momentum within local communities in conjunction with garnering congressional support in the southeast to ensure our National Parks become a national priority as we move toward celebrating the Centennial of America's National Parks in 2016.


Tracy Kramer, Senior Outreach Coordinator
Tracy is proud to bring twenty years of experience in non-profit marketing and development to her work at NPCA. “Leaving our national treasures unimpaired for future generations is important work and I’m excited to be a part of it and just love my job!”

Her passion for preserving history and protecting the environment stems from her journey growing up as an Air Force ‘brat’; experiencing the natural beauty and cultural heritage across the United States and in Panama. “My best childhood memories are of climbing trees, building forts in the jungle, chasing crayfish in the creek and spending time exploring in a small dugout canoe.”  She recalls her first national park visit as a third-grader on a field trip to the U.S.S. Arizona monument in Pearl Harbor – “Then it seemed like an oversized aquarium, now as an adult, the significance of that watery grave has grown.”

She studied biology as a pre-Med student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, ultimately changing majors and earning a B.S. degree in Marketing.  She lives in a 1930’s ‘work in progress’ bungalow in North Knoxville with her three cats and spends her free time gardening, camping, relaxing at the lake and taking in local music and art shows.


Chris Watson, Senior Program Manager
Chris Watson joined NPCA’s staff in February of 2010. Chris was born and raised in north-central Ohio where he grew up camping with his family in and around the Mohican state forest. Chris received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Ohio State University, followed by a move to Georgia where he pursued a master’s degree in ecological anthropology and an eventual doctorate in geography at the University of Georgia (UGA). Prior to joining NPCA, Chris spent several years on the staff of the UGA Honors Interdisciplinary Field Program, leading undergraduate students on an exploration of the anthropology, ecology, and geology of the western National Parks. Afterwards, he worked as a research geographer at UGA’s Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science on a number of projects mapping the plant communities of the National Parks of the southeast. Chris lives with his wife, son, daughter, dog, and cat in Knoxville. He enjoys camping, hiking, and canoeing with his family.


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