Destination by Design team in conference room


Meet the Team

Destination by Design

Eric Woolridge

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

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

Jason Gaston, PE

Civil Engineer

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.

Matt Powell

Matt Powell

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.

Dylan Connell

Graphic Designer

Dylan is a graphic designer with local roots in the Appalachian Mountains. He holds a B.S. in Graphic Communications Management from Appalachian State University with a minor in Studio Art. He is passionate about understanding the intersection between creativity and commerce. In his free time, you will find Dylan searching for a new coffee shop, out on a trail with his camera, or on a backroad in his Jeep searching for another cool place to discover…

Matt Wagoner

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.

Tim Johnson

Tim Johnson

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 Hancock

Ron Hancock

Senior Planner

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

Caroline Stahlschmidt

Senior Project Manager

Caroline is an experienced project manager and strategic thinker. She is skilled at creating systems and structures to ensure projects are organized and successful. With 14 years of experience as a state and local government account manager with Esri, Caroline excels at making connections, asking powerful questions, and helping clients and communities achieve their goals. Caroline holds degrees from the University of Miami and the University of Western States. She and her husband are long-time residents of Boone and love calling the High Country home. When she’s not working, you can find Caroline hiking, mountain biking, teaching yoga, or cooking up delicious meals.

Sydnie Kroneberger

Sydnie Kroneberger, PLA

Landscape Architect

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 Massie

Keagan Massie

GIS Planner

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.

Zach Hoffman

Zach Hoffman

Graphic Designer/Business Development

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.

Jon Black

Director of Visual Content

Jon Black is a photographer & director with 15 years experience in the field. Curious about the wide-ranging human experience Jon is always learning from the communities and institutions he documents. Jon currently has his eye on innovation and sustainable development. From small organizations to enterprise scale operations, witnessing people work towards a common-good goal keeps him inspired. Jon loves jumping on the trampoline with his family, traveling abroad and learning to cook.

Nicole Higgins

Nicole Higgins


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.

Erin Welsh

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.

Jessie Schottanes

Landscape Designer

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.

Meredith Maiken

Planning Technician

Meredith holds a BS in Sustainable Development with a minor in Community and Regional Planning and GIS Certificate from Appalachian State University. Growing up in a small town in Western North Carolina she wants to see all communities, large or small, thrive and sees planning as a powerful tool to make that happen. In her free time she likes to do anything outside and break out her fiddle.

Ed McLean, PLA

Landscape Architect

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.

Taylor Ratcliffe

Content Producer

Taylor holds dual degrees in Film Production and Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont. When not in the office, he is out searching for his next adventure, enjoying the natural world, and can almost always be found with a camera in his hands. Taylor has lived in Vermont, Wyoming and now Boone, NC and is excited to call these mountains home. With numerous years of experience behind the lens of a camera in backcountry settings, Taylor has worked as a freelance photographer and cinematographer, ski patroller, and whitewater guide. He is inspired by the power of cameras to share stories that allow us to learn and grow.

Sunny Morgan

Sunny Morgon

Web Developer

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.

Case Neal, PLA

Senior Landscape Architect

Case Neal is a Landscape Architect with 20 years of experience designing and creating outdoor spaces. From working in multi-disciplinary firms to teaching at a community college and leading his own design-build practice, his experience includes designing residential landscapes, parks & recreation facilities, urban and commercial properties, and educational institutions. Influenced by his construction experience, Case seeks to create spaces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing; anchored by the belief that, in order for outdoor spaces to be successful, they must be dynamic –  designed to change and evolve with time. When he’s not designing, you can find Case looking for waterfalls with his wife and six daughters.

Ivan Vazquez

Landscape Designer

Ivan holds a Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. During his undergraduate studies, he was recognized as a 2023 Landscape Architecture Foundation Olmstead Scholar. Growing up in Western North Carolina inspired him to help transform rural communities through the practice of Landscape Architecture. When not in the office, Ivan likes to spend time outdoors and can be found fishing or kayaking in nearby lakes.

Pooja Bonde

Environmental Designer

Pooja began her journey in Industrial/product design after finishing her Bachelors in Architecture. She then pursued her Masters in Industrial design at one of the leading design institutes – NID, Ahmedabad, India. She has worked in multiple design firms gaining experience in a variety of design disciplines such as Wayfinding, Customer Experience, Furniture, Interior, retail and Research design. Outside of work she enjoys painting, dancing, and gardening. Pooja is a self proclaimed “plant lady” who wishes to have her own sanctuary one day.