Meet the Team
Destination by Design
Eric Woolridge, AICP
Director of Planning and Business Development
Eric has worked in planning and economic development for more than twenty years and during his career has assisted more than 150 local government jurisdictions in the fields of land use planning, place-based economic development, open space and greenway planning, downtown revitalization, and place-branding.
Alex Gotherman, PLA
Director of Design
Alex joined Destination by Design in 2013. As the Director of Design, Alex enjoys bringing our team’s best ideas into reality through the practice of Landscape Architecture. His ideal project employs the entire interdisciplinary team at DbD to discover and leverage a community’s unique assets. The cross-pollination of planning, design, engineering, and communication has led to innovative place-based designs throughout the southeast, including master plans, streetscape design, urban infill, parks, greenways, and one-of-a-kind signage + wayfinding packages. On a good day, Alex dreams big of creating exceptional places, and on a great day, he lives it – building a family farm in the summer, snowboarding in the winter, and as a devoted father year-round.
Jason Gaston, PE
Jason leads the Destination by Design Engineering team and has more than fifteen years of experience as a civil engineer. He has worked extensively in both the public and private realms, including site engineering for downtown streetscapes, greenways, public parks and an array of private development throughout the southeast.
Director of Communications & Place Branding
Matt leads Destination by Design’s community branding and marketing-related projects, shoots & directs multimedia and web campaigns, and develops targeted brand strategies that promote quality of life and economic development. With a Masters degree in Communications and an undergraduate in Commercial Recreation & Tourism Management, Matt is passionate about helping communities uncover their true essence and communicate a shared vision.
Place Brand Strategist / Sr. Designer
Joshua Thurman is a design veteran with over 20 years experience – Having worked with brands of all sizes and across industries including major companies like Wendy’s Restaurants and Wrangler Jeans. Drawing on these and other experiences he strives to create compelling design that is clean and timeless rather than trendy. His skills cover multiple design disciplines including brand identity creation, web and print design, photography, video production, music performance, writing and public speaking. Above all, Josh is passionate about people and loves to share in the joys of life with his wife and three daughters.
Art Director / Graphic Designer
Matt has been a designer for 15+ years, and has built brands for communities, non-profit organizations and startups big and small. He especially loves taking communities through a discovery process, the branding journey, and helping them uncover the unique attributes that will make them stand out. Matt is a graduate of University of South Carolina with a Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design. His favorite activities include long walks on the beach, camping with the fam, and mountain biking- just don’t ask him to ride a skinny.
Director of Outdoor Recreation Planning
With over 20 years of experience in the parks and recreation field, Tim has led recreational planning and programming efforts for outdoor recreation infrastructure improvements and collaborated with a diverse range of partners and private stakeholders on developing local and regional recreational opportunities. Tim has a passion for trails and greenways that provide a variety of experiences for users with a focus on long-term sustainability and natural resource conservation. A user and educator of trails, Tim is an avid trail runner and also enjoys sharing the science of sustainable trail design, construction, and management with others. Tim holds degrees in Forest Management, Parks and Recreation Management, and Geography.
Ron brings a wide variety of practical experience to Destination by Design, including multiple aspects of land use, environmental, and local government planning. With more than twenty years of
experience working as a Planner in western North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, Ron has a thorough understanding of the various planning and development issues in the region. Prior to becoming a Planner, Ron served the public interest as a Geographer and GIS Specialist. He has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from Western Carolina University, a Master of Arts in Geography from Appalachian State University and has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners since 2008. Originally from Georgia, Ron has lived in the NC mountains with his wife and family since 1991. Outdoors he loves camping, hiking, boating, and motorcycling, and indoors, listening to scratchy records
With roots in a small Colorado mountain town, Sydnie’s love of art and the outdoors has been nurtured through education and travel. Her skills build from transforming broad ideas and large scope concepts through attention to the subtlest details. She is passionate about the power of design to not only shape the spaces in which we live but also, its power to shape human connection within those spaces.
Keagan brings Geographic Information System (GIS) skills and field experience in safety and environmental compliance to the DbD team. As a GIS Specialist, Keagan strives to use the power of geospatial technology to help envision and develop a greater connection between people and their natural and built environments. Keagan holds a B.S. in Geography from Appalachian State University. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, backpacking, reading, and running.
Director of Visual Content / Photographer
Jon Black is a photographer & director with 15 years of experience in the field. Curious about the human experience, Jon is always learning from the communities he works within. Jon currently has his eye on innovation and sustainable development. From small communities to enterprise-scale organizations, witnessing people work towards a common-good goal keeps him inspired. When not slinging cameras, Jon loves jumping on the trampoline with his family, traveling abroad, and learning to cook.
Graphic Designer / Multimedia Producer
Zach is a graphic designer, professional photographer, and multimedia content creator with more than 10 years of experience. He has had the privilege of traveling the globe, living internationally in Moldova, as well as visiting many states in the US. In all his travels he has learned there is beauty everywhere just waiting to be witnessed. Zach lives in downtown Boone, NC with his wife and two children. He is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill where he studied Photojournalism. He also holds a Masters in Divinity from Columbia International University.
Web Developer / Designer
We call him our resident magician, but in reality Sunny is a web developer, graphic designer, programmer, and photographer with more than 15 years of experience. Sunny develops custom interactive websites to promote public engagement and assists with marketing place-based assets for DbD clients.The field of urban planning, design, and place branding provides a perfect conduit for Sunny to use his technical and creative skills to enhance quality of life. If you meet Sunny, prepare to ponder what just might be possible.
Nicole brings field accounting and office management experience to the DbD team. She keeps things flowing and organized! Nicole and her husband, Robert, spent 18 months in service to the community and people of Haiti.
Senior Marketing Manager
Erin Welsh is an experienced marketing professional, content developer, and grammar nerd and serves as the social media storyteller of DbD. Driven by a passion for a good plot line, Erin takes pride in creating authentic growth through engaging content and well-written social media posts, blog entries, and newsletters. Additionally, Erin supports the work of the executive team with event coordination, recruitment, and the development of agency partnerships within both the design and economic development industries. Erin graduated from Elon University and is a longtime resident of the High Country. When she’s not working, you can find her buried in a book, lost on a trail, or exploring new places with friends and family.
Jess began her career in the Yestermorrow Design/Build program at the University of Massachusetts. She became the second student to be rewarded a dual master’s degree in Geography and Regional Planning at UMass Amherst. Artist, adventurer, educator, environmental geoscientist, park ranger… these are just a few of the words that could be used to describe her. When Jess isn’t in the office, she can be found hiking local trails, snowboarding, or in the library researching contested landscapes, mountain and trailside communities, or lost resorts.
A recent graduate of Mississippi State University with a master’s in landscape architecture, Ben enjoys the opportunity that Landscape Architecture allows him to explore the natural and built environment in a creative way. Ben is excited to work on projects that encourage people to reconnect with their communities and the outdoors. Outside of work Ben enjoys running, mountain biking, tennis, pickleball and reading.
Ed McLean, PLA
Ed joined Destination by Design after leaving a career working within the Triangle region of North Carolina. He has worked on a wide range of public and private projects including urban infill, mixed-use, multi-family residential, adaptive reuse, master planning, multimodal transportation, greenways, and parks. Ed enjoys projects that create a sense of place and community pride.