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Former GSMA Executive Director Named 'Smokies' Hero'

Posted by | 08.09.2017

Discover Life in America has named former Great Smoky Mountains Association Executive Director Terry Maddox its Smokies Hero honoree for 2017. Accomplishments leading to Maddox's designation will be featured during DLIA's upcoming Great Smoky Mountains Salamander Ball. 

Maddox at the 2009 groundbreaking for
Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

"DLIA is proud to honor Terry during our Salamander Ball as one of our Smokies’ Heroes for his career of great work to help this wonderful park we all love so dearly," said Todd Witcher, DLIA executive director.

In an announcement naming this year's honoree, Witcher listed a few of Maddox's achievements during his 26 years at GSMA:

  • Published the first volume in the natural history handbook series, "Birds of the Smokies," in 1991
  • Launched Townsend Visitor Center store in 1992 and Gatlinburg Welcome Center store in 1993
  • Published "Hiking Trails of the Smokies" in 1994
  • 1st award-winning park-themed T-shirt “A Wondrous Diversity of Life” in 1997
  • Hosted Public Lands Alliance convention in Gatlinburg in 1998
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center expansion in 1999
  • Expanded GSMA's creative staff and publishing efforts in 2001
  • Supported park's 75th anniversary celebration activities in 2008-09
  • Started Kephart publications program in 2009
  • Opened Clingmans Dome Information Center in 2010 and Oconaluftee Visitor Center in 2011
  • Publishing "Mountains for the Masses: A History of Management Issues in GSMNP" in 2014
  • Opened Swain County Visitor Center store in 2014
  • Implemented employee compensation plan in 1991
  • Renovated GSMA headquarters and purchased central warehouse in 1992
  • Installed a Point-of-Sale/inventory management system in 1995
Lisa Horstman, left, signing copies of
The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander
 for attendees.

Maddox will be recognized at DLIA’s Salamander Ball Sunday, September 24, at Zoo Knoxville, a long-running event in support of DLIA’s mission is to discover and understand America’s species through science and education for conservation. DLIA’s flagship project, the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, is a joint effort with the National Park Service to identify and record every single species within the park. To date DLIA has assisted in adding over 9,000 new species to the park’s records and 986 new to science.

This marks the second year DLIA has named a Smokies' Hero, the first being Don Barger of the National Parks Conservation Association in 2016.

The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball is a family-friendly event open to the public. Its highlights include:

  • Plenty of food and drink, including wine, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Zoo Scavenger Hunt
  • Fantastic Kids’ Activities
  • Zoo admission included
  • Hits from yesteryear to today performed by The Vibraslaps
  • A silent auction
  • Special appearance by “Big Red,” the giant salamander

All members of your family are invited to dress up as their favorite Smoky Mountain critter. During the event, everyone will receive an autographed copy of “The Great Smoky Mountains Salamander Ball,” a Great Smoky Mountains Association publication written and illustrated by Lisa Horstman.

For details about this event and ticket information, please visit or contact Todd Witcher at 865-430-4757 and via email at