Greg Walker-Wilson is stepping down as chief executive officer of Mountain BizWorks, an Asheville-based nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs develop businesses and find financial support. He plans to move his family to South America later this year to enrich their life experience and extend his service work.
Walker-Wilson, his wife, Susanne, and their two children, 11-year-old Caleb and 8-year-old Asher, plan to tackle a three-year volunteer assignment with the Mennonite Central Committee in Colombia. He announced his decision Jan. 15; the resignation takes effect June 1.
Walker-Wilson and his wife have long dreamed of taking on such an assignment, he told Xpress. “This is an extension of my values and my worldview of service and giving back,” he said, noting that he lived in Costa Rica and Colombia for two years as a child while his parents worked as missionaries.
Walker-Wilson also did a summer graduate internship in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with the Mennonite Central Committee, a peace-building organization affiliated with the Mennonite Church. In addition, he and his wife spent a summer in Guatemala studying Spanish in the mid-1990s.
The current opportunity arose after the MCC said it wanted Susanne to train trainers who can help people heal from trauma. Violence in Colombia has forced thousands of rural residents to seek refuge in cities, and the organization wanted to take advantage of Susanne’s social-work background. When the group learned more about her husband’s work empowering people through entrepreneurship, he says they felt they could use that expertise as well.
Walker-Wilson says he and his family plan to return to Asheville after the overseas assignment. Mountain BizWorks, however, is strong, he reports, serving 1,000 people last year (up from 750 the year before).
Board member John Mark Stroud has been appointed to lead the Executive Search Committee, according to board Chair Sallie Broach. “Greg cannot be replaced, but with change comes new possibilities, and the board is excited to move forward,” Broach notes.