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. We all share deep respect for Sandburg’s history and pride in his family’s home at Connemara.


“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
Programming Support

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:

  • Carl Sandburg Music Festival (Memorial Day weekend)
  • Christmas at Connemara
  • Sandburg Sing-Alongs (Summer)
  • Writing or Poetry Workshops (Monthly)
  • Fresh Kids
  • Funds to support the goat herd at Connemara Farms
  • Education Intern
  • Volunteer Recognition

Our Board of Directors

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

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.

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 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 led the Sandburg Demonstration Garden Team from 2019 to early 2021, 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

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. 


Tony Robles is a poet and writer living in Hendersonville, NC.  Originally from San Francisco, he is the author of two  collections of poetry/short stories, Cool Don’t Live Here No More–A Letter to San Francisco and Fingerprints of a Hunger Strike. He was a shortlist nominee for Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2017 and was named Carl Sandburg Home Writer in Residence in 2020.  He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and Individual Literary Artist Grant recipient of the San Francisco Art Commission. He is currently an MFA candidate at Vermont College’s creative writing program.  For more information, tonyrobles.wordpress.com


Kristy put down roots in Western North Carolina after living and receiving her education in places ranging from Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania to India, Switzerland and Mexico. She has 25 years of experience as an attorney specializing in criminal defense and all types of family law. Kristy has given back to her communities by founding a non-profit charitable organization that supports victims of child abuse, and providing pro-bono legal representation to children in high conflict divorce cases and instances of domestic violence. Locally, she has volunteered at the Medical Loan Closet in Hendersonville and now is delighted to be involved with the Friends of Carl Sandburg.


The beauty of the mountains and its rich history drew Elizabeth and her husband, David, to move permanently to Flat Rock in 2015. Prior to setting down roots in Flat Rock, six years were spent teaching students in South Korea and Lithuania. She loved teaching in all three geographic regions of North Carolina and most recently retired from East Henderson High School as a biology teacher. Elizabeth continues to tutor in the school system, volunteer at church, and spend time with her grandchildren. As a member of our board, she is excited to play a role in fostering educational opportunities to visitors of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.


Mike (Mick) and his wife Dori became Flat Rock settlers after falling deeply in love with the foliage and fountains of Western Carolina mountains.  Professionally, Mike has directed and managed the marketing and sales efforts of several leading transportation equipment manufacturers.  He has served as secretary and board member of the New Bern North Carolina Historic District Resident’s Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historical integrity of North Carolina’s original capital.  When not trekking Big Glassy Mountain, you’ll find Mike hard “at work” composing music in his digital home studio, busking at one of the downtown Hendersonville intersections, performing at local and regional breweries or simply playing and singing tunes with friends and family.  Mick considers paying tribute to One of America’s Greatest Sons by serving on the FOCS board his greatest honor.