Smokies Life

Chief Executive Officer

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Smokies Life seeks a strategic, transformative leader who will deepen its impact and ensure its interpretive mission, retail services, publishing, and partnerships continue to grow and thrive. 

Smokies Life seeks a visionary leader to drive the organization forward in its mission to support Great Smoky Mountains. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will be responsible for overseeing strategy development and execution, management, and the success of Smokies Life’s interpretive partnerships, programs, and products.

The CEO must be a strategic, collaborative leader who understands governmental and business partnerships. The ideal candidate has the skills and experience to sustain the organization’s success as an industry leader in interpretive retail and publishing. 

About Smokies Life

Since its inception in 1953, Smokies Life (formerly Great Smoky Mountains Association) has supported the preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) by promoting greater public understanding and appreciation of the park’s resources through education, interpretation, and research, providing retail, wholesale, and membership programs that enrich the visitor experience. The proceeds from these programs fund the organization’s operations and allow it to give cash and in-kind donations to the park that, combined, exceed $2.8 million annually. Smokies Life’s cumulative financial assistance to GSMNP exceeded $50 million in 2023. 

While the mission and operating model of Smokies Life are common to many nonprofit park partners, the organization’s size and sophistication make it unique. Smokies Life operates eleven stores in and around GSMNP and a growing online store. It currently publishes more than 100 offerings including books, trail guides, maps, videos, audiobooks, and podcasts, as well as a regular newspaper column, “Word from the Smokies,” the Smokies LIVE blog, and the award-winning Smokies Life Journal. Many of these items form part of the inventory sold in its stores and are distributed wholesale to businesses throughout East Tennessee and Western North Carolina; others provide the foundational content for a robust social media presence on a variety of platforms. The organization engages over 28,000 individual and 150 business members to support its work. It also holds a competitively-bid concession contract to sell visitor safety and convenience items in the park. In 2022, the organization’s gross receipts exceeded $14 million. Smokies Life uses this revenue to support programs, park publications, and facilities throughout the park and to provide in-kind visitor services.


The CEO is a full-time, exempt, benefit-eligible position. The anticipated annual salary is $130,000–$170,000, commensurate with experience. A comprehensive benefits package includes medical, vision, and dental insurance, employer-sponsored flexible spending, a 403b plan, and generous paid time off.


The Chief Executive Officer will work from the Smokies Life offices near park headquarters in Gatlinburg, TN. Regular travel throughout the park is expected. 

Start Date

Summer 2024

To Apply

Click "Apply Here" below. Applications should include a resume and a cover letter describing your qualifications that match the position criteria and what you will bring to the role.

Additional Information

More information on Smokies Life can be found at For additional information regarding this opportunity, please contact Cleveland Justis, Founder and Principal, at

Download the Full Position Specification: 
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