Who We Are

The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. (FOCS) was established more than 30 years ago to support the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. FOCS is an all-volunteer organization with a Board of Directors composed of members with diverse careers, varied interests, and assorted talents to offer. We all share deep respect for Sandburg’s history and pride in his family’s home at Connemara.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT
“. . .to support and promote directly the historical, scientific, literary, educational, and interpretive activities of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.”

We welcome anyone who wants to be involved in this local treasure.

Many FOCS board members volunteer elsewhere at the park as house docents, barn and goat caretakers, and gardeners. If you have interest in volunteering in one of those areas, please contact the Park Headquarters at 828-693-1478 as these areas are not part of FOCS’ activities.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Ranger Trevor Thomas
What We Do

The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. helps to:

  • PROMOTE vital education initiatives and free children’s programming, plus enhanced Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site visitor services, family friendly special events, as well as unique historical, literary and cultural education programs and traveling resource materials for teachers, students and the visiting public.
  • PROTECT the Park’s unique cultural and literary artifacts, landscapes, and trails for all to access, share and for future generations to enjoy.
  • PRESERVE the beautiful land, buildings, goat herd breeding program, botanical and horticultural assets of the Park for all to enjoy and for future generations.
Friends of Carl Sandburg spending graph
Program

Funds raised each year by The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. supports free programming for all ages at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. Some of our more popular programs include:

  • Folk Music Festival
  • Christmas at Connemara
  • Fresh Kids
  • Funds to support the goats and acquire new goats for the herd
  • Writer-in-Residence
  • Education Intern
  • Volunteer Recognition

Our Board of Directors

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board member Annette Dubrouillet

ANNETTE DUBROUILLET
Annette’s love for the work of Carl Sandburg started as a young girl in elementary school in Saint Louis where his poems were regularly read and discussed. She joined The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board in March 2017 and has been President since April of 2018. Her background includes thirteen years in leadership positions with the U.S. Department of the Army. After leaving her position there, Annette opened her own consulting and training business which worked with organizations and individuals on decision-making and problem solving. She is the author of “Make No Mistake: How to make the best decision the first time.” Annette resides in Hendersonville with husband, Charlie Faure, and yellow lab, Kyra. Charlie is a frequent hiker at CSNHS.The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc.

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board member CC Blackburn

CC BLACKBURN 
After 40 years in NYC, CC retired from a (short) career  in theatre and a (long) career in tour and hospitality management. A life-long volunteer and community activist, she now spends her time between Blue Ridge Humane Society, the Flat Rock Backpack program and The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc.  Otherwise, she can be found acting in community theaters and (these days) sewing masks!

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board member Dallas Owens

DALLAS OWENS

Dr. Owens was born in McDowell County, N.C. and now lives in Henderson County. He is a National Park Service volunteer for 19 years, including three years on the Friends Board, six years at the Carl Sandburg Barn, and ten years with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of Colonel after 27 years of service; his last assignment was as faculty for the U.S. Army War College. His military education culminated at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and Harvard University as a National Security Fellow. He holds Sociology degrees from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte (B.A.), Utah State University (M.S.), and the University of Tennessee (Ph.D.), and served on the faculty of Clemson University, North Carolina State University, University of Virginia – Wise, and University of Colorado.  He held management positions on a FERC application team for an Alaskan hydroelectric project and Montana’s EIS Team.

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board member Ellen Sugarman

ELLEN SUGARMAN 
A NC resident since August of 2017, a Connemara Goat Barn Volunteer since September of that year, and an The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. Board Member since 2019, Ellen moved to Flat Rock from Bainbridge Island, Washington,  a commuter island located directly across from Seattle in the Puget Sound.  Ellen retired from GE Healthcare in 2016 after a 32 year career in Healthcare Information Technology.  Her most recent position was in direct customer support of GE’s electronic medical record product line.  Over the years she served as VP of Strategic Account Management for the western US for 3 organizations, President and Founder of a software company specializing in contract management for hospitals and as founding board member for a spiritual organization in Seattle, The Seattle Insight Meditation Society.   As a hospice respite care volunteer in Washington State as well as Santa Fe, New Mexico she became certified as a Grief Counselor while attending Southwestern College.

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board member Ginger Brown

GINGER BROWN
Ginger moved to Flat Rock from New Hampshire in 2006.  She was delighted to find the one of her favorite American writers once lived in her new hometown and that his home is now a National Park with scenic views, hiking trails, gardens, and adorable baby goats.  Now retired engineer, Ginger spends much of her time in community service.  She feels honored that she was asked to join The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. and help them in their mission of supporting the Park Service to maintain the park for all to enjoy.

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board member John Berglin

JOHN BERGLIN
John started as a Sandburg Garden Volunteer in Spring of 2017, shortly after retirement and a move to the Hendersonville area. A native of Illinois, he grew up 60 miles southeast of Galesburg and eventually lived and worked in Des Moines, Iowa, for 35 years. His prior professional experiences include being a High School Art Instructor, working for a large Medical Insurance Company, and then managing a Billing Office for a Multi-Specialty Medical Clinic. An avid gardener, he completed the NC Master Gardener Certification Program in 2018. John has led the Sandburg Demonstration Garden Team since 2019 and has been on The Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. Board since August of 2018. He find the growing things in the vast assortments of “NC soil” a very interesting and rewarding challenge. 

Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. board member Keith Kennedy

KEITH KENNEDY
Before becoming full time Flat Rock residents in 2010, Keith and his wife Joan had a second home in Saluda. He retired from NextEra Energy, Inc. (formerly Florida Power & Light Co.) after 18 years as Director of Risk Management. Previously, Keith  was a senior attorney for Standard Oil of Ohio (later, British Petroleum) focusing on major commercial transactions both domestic and international, and managing the tort litigation and claims group. While in OH and FL, he was active in church, local Boy Scouts and in youth sports coaching. In Flat Rock, Keith has been a member of the East Flat Rock Community Planning committee and served on the Highland Lake Homeowners Association Board, including two years as president. He has an undergrad degree is from West Virginia University; and a Juris Doctorate is from Duquesne University. 

MARK ZEDELLA

Drawn to all that Western North Carolina has to offer, Mark and his wife, Loretta, relocated from Ohio in 2019 after visiting the area for many years. Ready for a new challenge after a successful career in various roles with major corporations including AT&T and Nationwide Insurance, Mark spent a year in Boulder, Colorado, attending culinary school. Upon completion, he operated his own business offering private chef services and culinary instruction, and managed a wellness-through-food program for a non-profit organization. Mark joined our board in early 2021, and he is delighted to be a part of the organization.