Staff Members

Betty M. Mitchell, Executive Director

Betty Mitchell has served as Executive Director of The Highland Center since it was established in 1998.  Betty has extensive background in non-profit management, having worked for Saint Paul’s College and the Mental Health Association of Virginia before moving to Highland, as well as experience in business planning, marketing and community development.  Betty’s community involvement includes current and past board positions with the Highland County Economic Development Authority, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Highland County Sheep and Wool Producers Association, and the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center Steering Committee.  She is a founding member and past president of the Virginia Business Incubation Association.  Betty is also the founder of the Blue Grass Book Bank in Blue Grass, Virginia, where she and her husband Brian live and operate a small sheep farm.

Lorraine McCune, Community Park Coordinator

DSCN1298Lorraine was raised in a small town in Oklahoma, and then went on to high school in Chicago. As a child, she always found a way to be outside, from playing in the tall grass prairies near her house in Oklahoma, to hiking or bike riding in the forest preserves around Chicago.  Her love of the outdoors led to a degree in Forestry from Southern Illinois University and a 32-year career with the USDA Forest Service in Illinois, Colorado, and Alaska.  She worked in a variety of positions including forester, special-use permit administrator, environmental document writer, and recreation planner. Her final posting in 2004 was as a recreation program manager on the George Washington National Forest in Hot Springs, Virginia, from which she retired in 2013.

In Virginia, an overabundance of pumpkins and later on other vegetables, led Lorraine to become a vendor at the Bath County Farmers’ Market. She enjoys sharing her healthy produce, telling people about veggies that are new and unique, and the camaraderie of the market.  In 2014, Lorraine joined the volunteer management team for the Bath County Farmers’ Market and continues to assist with that market. She has been the Highland County Farmer’s Market Manager and has now shifted her focus to the Community Park development.

Lorraine lives in Millboro, Virginia, with husband, Cleveland, and has a daughter in Montana, a son in Seattle, and a step-daughter and step-son in Bath County.

 Joshua Umar, Youth and Community Outreach Coordinator

Josh_UmarOriginally from Oklahoma, Josh came to Highland County after 8 years in the Washington, D.C. metro area. In addition to his focus on resource development, he manages the Center’s Youth Employment Program, business incubation efforts, and attracting new entrepreneurial residents project. He has previously worked in grassroots organizing, health policy research, and wildlife habitat improvement.

Josh earned his degree in philosophy from the University of Central Oklahoma, and went on to study philosophy and economics at Syracuse University. He and his wife have purchased land in the county, where in addition to his work for the Center they will run a small livestock farm.

Claire Sax, Resource Development Coordinator

clairesaxClaire has great experience with development work for Galapagos Conservancy and with George Mason University; on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant, and most recently as a small business owner of Crowning Moments Doula. Many of us have purchased her wonderful scones from the Farmers’ Market. Claire and her husband Erik live in Monterey with their two children. 

Gregg Morse, Business Manager

Cornelia Granbery, Local Foods Coordinator

Cornelia grew up running down the aisles of her family’s grocery stores in Nashville, Tennessee. Following graduation from the University of Virginia, she spent several years living far away from home in Argentina and California pursuing a career in the wine industry. Her experiences from a young age with her family’s business, as well as exposure to the food industry in Northern California, pushed her to become invested in sustainable food. Cornelia worked as the Customer Service and Logistics Manager for a grass-fed beef brand based in Petaluma, California, until deciding making the jump to live in Bath County, Virginia with her fiance, a native to the area. They live just south of Bolar on Spring Hollow Farm with their hound dog, Hooch.

Cornelia joined the Highland Center team in 2017 as Local Foods Coordinator. Her role will support two food programs, including Alleghany Meats and the Highland FarmersMarket.

Cornelia has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Virginia in Economics and Dance. She is enthusiastic about her work at the Highland Center, in connecting with farmers and consumers alike to promote a vibrant local food industry in the area.

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