Meet the Staff
Christine K. Rolka – Executive Director
Christine K. Rolka is the Executive Director of the Hitchcock Woods Foundation. An outdoor enthusiast, she was delighted to discover the Woods after moving to Aiken in 1991. She and her husband decided to settle in Aiken after purchasing a lot and building a home across the street from the Woods. Rolka earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland and her Master of Arts Degree in Natural Sciences from the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the Hitchcock Woods Foundation in March 2015, Christine served as the Director of Education for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) -a national nonprofit wildlife conservation organization - where she was responsible for the development, management and expansion of the NWTF’s Winchester Museum and National Education Programs. Prior to her work with the NWTF, she served as a teacher and guidance counselor for Aiken County Public Schools. Christine and her family (husband Tom, children Lance and Heidi, and dog Scout) enjoy spending time in the Woods and the outdoors.
Joanne C. Gunnell – Administrative and Communications Assistant
Originally from New Jersey, Joanne has lived in Michigan and Illinois working as a consultant in Educational Services for Deloitte and in Development for Elgin Academy. As a volunteer at a major hospital in Illinois, she has chaired many fundraisers including galas, golf outings, and fashion shows. At the hospital she also served on the volunteer board as the Community Outreach Director, Treasurer and President.
Joanne and her husband were transferred to Aiken in January 2010. She worked as the Director of Development for Aiken Preparatory School and retired in 2012.
She is currently an Eucharistic Minister at St. Mary Help of Christian Church. She is an avid golfer, photographer, enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking and spending time at the beach with her husband Dennis and their dog Anna Sabrina.
W. Bennett Tucker – Woods Superintendent
Bennett Tucker grew up in Aiken and spent much of his youth exploring and enjoying the Hitchcock Woods. He volunteered with the Axe Club and enjoyed riding and showing horses at the Fulmer International Stables (now The Stable on the Woods). He worked with the Foundation’s former forester as a summer intern for three years while in high school and college, and volunteered to help with prescribed burns and the Aiken Horse Show. He joined the Foundation’s staff as Woods Superintendent in 2006. While in college, he became a volunteer firefighter with the Due West Fire Department and later joined Aiken Public Safety as a volunteer firefighter. Bennett has many first responder certifications, many structural and wildland firefighting certifications, and is a South Carolina certified prescribed fire manager. He has remained an active volunteer firefighter with Aiken Public Safety (winning Volunteer Firefighter of the Year in 2009) and serves on the board of directors of the Aiken Land Conservancy. Bennett graduated from Aiken Preparatory School and then from Christ School in Arden, North Carolina. He is a graduate of Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, with a degree in business administration.
Jacob N. Derrick – Woods Resource Steward
Jacob Derrick joined the Foundation staff as Woods Resource Steward in January 2017.
Christine M. Reichel – Financial Administrator
Chris Reichel was raised on Long Island, New York. She graduated from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, with a degree in computer science. She and her husband have resided in the area since 1990 and raised their three children in the Aiken community. Her involvement as a volunteer for several local organizations led to her position with the Hitchcock Woods Foundation and she was hired as Administrator in 2001. Since 2014, she has served as a part time Financial Administrator and is enjoying the flexibility to pursue other interests.
Susan M. Kilgo – Administrative Assistant
Suzi Kilgo has worked in the Hitchcock Woods Foundation office on a seasonal basis since 2007 and continuously since 2014. She grew up in Athens, GA, attended the University of Georgia, and received a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Florida. A 20-year resident of Aiken, she has served her church and the community in various volunteer capacities. Her daughter Caroline is a long-time participant in the Aiken Horse Show, and her husband John, a wildlife biologist, advises the Foundation on various wildlife issues. Suzi enjoys camping and walking in Hitchcock Woods with John, Caroline, and dogs Rosie and Clay.