Aldon Knight to assume Executive Director role this spring

February 13th, 2024
By Andrea Cooper

I'm writing today to share some important news about the future of our organization. After nearly nine rewarding and impactful years serving as Upstate Forever's Executive Director, I have decided to step into a new role at UF.

I am pleased to announce that Aldon Knight — who has worked in his role as Director of Development and Community Relations since 2015 — will assume the position of Executive Director effective this spring. 

Following my decision to step down, the UF Board of Directors formed a transition committee and worked with a consultant to determine the skillset needed to guide our organization in its next phase. With more than three decades of proven experience in administration, leadership, and fund development roles, Aldon received unanimous support from the board in a vote this past November.

Since joining UF, Aldon has established the Wyche Society major gift programstrategically cultivated planned giving, and orchestrated the successful $8 million “Crossroads” capital campaign. He is native to the Upstate, grew up playing in its great outdoors, and is incredibly passionate about our work to protect the region's critical lands, abundant waters, and unique character.

While I will remain at UF in a new position focusing on strategy, donor relations, and special projects, you may rest assured that Aldon, a successful and visionary internal leader, is taking the reins.

Here's to a greener future for the Upstate — For all of us. For generations to come. Forever.


Andrea Cooper
Upstate Forever

More information about the upcoming leadership transition

Andrea joined UF in 2015, becoming the first Executive Director to follow in the footsteps of founder Brad Wyche (pictured above with Andrea and Aldon).

Accomplishments under her leadership include:

  • Growing the organization from 17 to 26 employees
  • Protecting an additional 17,000+ acres of Upstate land through easements and partner projects
  • Successful efforts to secure millions of new dollars in funding for land protection
  • Preventing an unnecessary transmission line that would have sliced through the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Establishing a $1.5 million water quality fund in Anderson County using settlement funds from a lawsuit over the Kinder Morgan petroleum spill
  • Helping to spearhead the transformational Saluda Grade Trail project

“The UF board has driven each step of this process and is fully supportive of this plan,” says Board Chair John Keith. “We are very fortunate to have an internal leader like Aldon who is well-equipped, energized, and perfectly poised to take on the Executive Director role. It allows us to capitalize on our momentum and demonstrates that we’re a mature, thriving organization with the ability to promote from within. Andrea has done so much for Upstate Forever, and we’re thankful that she will remain engaged and continue to support its critical work.”

This news has been shared with staff, major donors, conservation partners, and other primary stakeholders, who have also been fully supportive of the plan.

If you have any questions about this transition and the future of Upstate Forever, please don't hesitate to contact us by emailing

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