Lisa Raleigh, RiverLink Executive Director; photo by Michael Oppenheim

RiverLink received its first CFWNC grant in 1994. In the intervening years, it has received $828,000 in competitive grants and $854,000 in designated or donor advised grants.

RiverLink was founded three-and-a-half decades ago, with the mission of promoting the environmental and economic vitality of the French Broad River and watershed. At that time, the River corridor was neglected, dilapidated, polluted and disconnected from the City of Asheville. Karen Cragnolin, our founder, was a visionary and tireless advocate for transformation, and much of what we enjoy in the River Arts District today is the result of her efforts, generous supporters and creative partnerships.

I joined RiverLink just over two years ago and love the historical and current role RiverLink plays in the region. Partnership is at the heart of our work – from the Southside Community stormwater project to Woodfin Greenway Blueway (WGB) to Karen Cragnolin Park. We routinely work with municipal, county and regional partners and funders. WGB is a great example of a small community believing in a very ambitious project. Thanks to phenomenal leadership, citizen advocacy and funding, this $32 million project, including five miles of new greenways, two river parks and an in-river kayak wave, is coming to fruition. Projects like this can only happen with the commitment and collaboration of many.

RiverLink greatly appreciates our 360-degree partnership with CFWNC. Whether we are applying for a competitive grant, receiving contributions from our supporters via your donor advised funds, or working with you on our endowed investments, CFWNC is a true partner in our success. We have tremendous confidence in CFWNC’s endowment model and are grateful for the decades of collaboration.

For all the progress that has been made, we still face extraordinary challenges given the River’s enormous economic impact on the region and ongoing fragility today due to too much sediment loading and subsequent impairments. RiverLink remains a champion of creating climate resilient riverparks, greenways and public access and to our three programmatic areas – water resource management, youth education and land conservation.

I love being part of RiverLink’s impactful legacy and carrying Karen’s vision forward with the talented staff, board and many generous supporters and funders. WNC is a special place, and RiverLink’s work attracts extraordinary human beings who care about the environment and generously invest their time, wisdom and philanthropy in the work.

Lisa Raleigh
RiverLink Executive Director