Dedicated Staff

Red Mountain Park is owned and administered by the Red Mountain Greenway and Recreational Area Commission. In 2007, the Alabama legislature declared the Commission a state agency, giving it exclusive control over the Park site. The Commission has oversight of every aspect of the planning and development of Red Mountain Park. Each of the 15 commissioners is selected by one of eight appointing bodies (the Governor of Alabama, the Mayor of Birmingham, the Jefferson County Commission, the Jefferson County Mayors Association, USS Real Estate, the Freshwater Land Trust and the Jefferson County legislative delegation, which appoints one member from the county’s Alabama House delegation and one from the state Senate).

The Park’s daily operations are managed by the Park Staff. In addition, the Park is supported by an active and growing volunteer organization. Park volunteers assist with Park tours, provide labor for the ongoing cleanups and preparation of trails and natural areas, and take opportunities to promote the Park in their neighborhoods and various community venues.

Al Folcher

Interim Executive Director


Al has worked in many capacities of business and organizational development and is also the retired CEO of SCA Planning & Construction Management Company; he is currently working with Red Mountain Park for the Interim as he enjoys the outdoors and has always supported similar Birmingham and community projects.  He was the former Associate Executive Director of Business Services for UAB, and also directed Planning & Economic Development for the City of Vestavia Hills.  Additionally he served our country as a US Army Colonel.

Al has been married for over 60 years to his wife, Sally and has two children and seven grandchildren.

Leigh Laser Collins

Director of Philanthropy


A Birmingham resident for 30 years and an Alabama native, Leigh’s career history is rich in diversity, having served for 10 years as the Vice President of Financial Development for the Birmingham YMCA Association as well as having worked as Marketing Director for the nation’s third-largest book retailer.

Leigh combines a genuine appreciation for community collaboration with fundraising expertise, supporting volunteers, donors and staff in bringing vision to fruition. Leigh is married to Kevin and has four beautiful stepchildren. She also embraces her roles as flutist and vocalist with the Advent Five O’clock Band and as a licensed Zumba instructor.

“To see our community embracing the benefits of walking, hiking and biking trails in my lifetime is exciting. To have the privilege of being intimately involved in this movement is extraordinary! Red Mountain Park already provides ‘Green Space’ at its dynamic best, bringing individuals, families and friends together in an environment that naturally fosters diversity and health. My vision is simply one I share with others who love Birmingham as much as I do: To see our region celebrate—on a grand scale—the physical, economical, spiritual and unifying benefits that outdoor recreational areas provide.”

Katie Bradford

Director of Community and Public Relations


Katie’s focus at Red Mountain Park includes the areas of public relations and community outreach. She also manages park projects; one of her major projects is the Oral History Project, which also happens to be one of her favorite. Katie also directs the park’s service projects with scouting and youth organizations.

Katie received her bachelor and master’s degrees in Communication from the University of South Alabama. Prior to joining Red Mountain Park, she worked for two nonprofit organizations in the areas of public relations and marketing. She volunteers often with youth programs and recently served as a Junior Board Member for Camp Smile-A-Mile.

“Recreation in such a beautiful and significantly historic place will energize and enrich our community and region. The mountain that made so much possible for our city will once again hold a meaningful purpose.”

Kasey Moore

Director of Marketing


Before she became our Marketing guru, Kasey was an awesome Adventure Guide at the Park. 

“I love being a part of the Red Mountain Park project. It is something bigger that impacts our community in such a positive way and will build connectivity for generations to come.”

Monica Romano

Internal Operations


Monica joined the team as Philanthropy Associate in the winter of 2013. After 16 years of work in the non-profit sector throughout the country, Monica was excited to bring her passion for community connectivity and philanthropy back to Birmingham, her hometown. As a member of Red Mountain Park’s Office of Philanthropy, Monica works to inspire community engagement with the city’s only non-profit Signature Urban Park.

When not at Red Mountain Park, Monica enjoys traveling with her family and serving as a volunteer with Camp McDowell, Trinity Commons Episcopal Student Center and leading a weekly poetry class for the Desert Island Supply Co. According to unverified reports, her ukulele skills are slowly improving.

“There are countless captivating facets to the Red Mountain Park project, but what excites me most is knowing that the Park’s Guests, Volunteers and Staff are working together within a model of SUSTAINABILITY. It is a privilege to be a part of a project that is not only uncovering and sharing almost-forgotten pieces of Birmingham’s history, but is following a plan to ensure the Park will grow and evolve for countless years to come.”

Claire Heard

Director of Programs



Rachel Ahrnsen

Natural Resources Specialist

(205) 202-6043

Rachel Ahrnsen graduated from the University of Alabama cum laude. She received her experience teaching children about the wonders of the natural world through three summers working for the Hamilton County Park District’s Educational Farm. Rachel also works with the Pepper Place Farmer’s Market, managing volunteers and answering market-goers’ questions. In addition, she loves her role as the caretaker of the Sim’s Ecoscape, a certified wildlife habitat and community garden located in Homewood. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys watching films for the Sidewalk Film Festival Screening Committee, hiking, and enjoying all the beautiful city of Birmingham has to offer!

Shelby Cole



Shelby discovered the Park first as an Adventure Guide.

“I love teaching future generations of Birmingham residents to appreciate what helped make their city what it is.”

Art Powell

Adventure Maintenance


“The Adventures at Red Mountain Park are the most fun way we get to connect with our community and I always enjoy people taking on an Adventure experience for the very first time.”

Mark Beggs

Maintenance Supervisor


Mark was born in Pennsylvania and spent four years in the Marines as a network technician. He first became involved with the Park as a volunteer with the Friends of Red Mountain Park. In addition to keeping the trails in tip-top shape, Mark also handles the office IT work. He enjoys outdoor activities, trail running and is the caretaker for Abby the Park mascot.

“I am excited to be a part of Red Mountain Park as it develops into a signature Park for Birmingham.”

David Commer


“Red Mountain Park has something for everyone and I enjoy being part of the effort that supports that.”

Jeff Newman

Historian, Park Maintenance


Jeff’s involvement with Red Mountain Park has existed since his childhood—he grew up on the side of Red Mountain and explored it every Saturday. In addition, the old Birmingham Mineral Railroad, the Valley View mine and the Greensprings mine were all just feet from his back door. His love for industrial history developed through the years and though he selected a career with BellSouth, he spent his extra time hiking the mountain and reading about its history.

Jeff stayed with BellSouth for 30 years before retiring in 2006. After he retired, he began to spend more time on Red Mountain, revisiting his favorite locations. One day, he was hiking the ridge between Songo and the No. 13 mine when he ran into a bulldozer operator. He was clearing a road, and Jeff jokingly told him how great it would be if he could clear some other routes for hiking. The operator told him that his wish would come true in the form of Red Mountain Park, and Jeff immediately knew he had to be involved with the project. He began to research the park project and was soon one of the Friends of Red Mountain Park. He continued with his interests in clearing trails, and soon became Director of Land Stewardship on the Friends of Red Mountain Park Board. When it came time for the park to begin looking for candidates to handle trail and park maintenance, Jeff was a natural fit. He is thrilled at the amount of time he now gets tospend at the Park each and every day.

“Red Mountain is a place that brought together men with vision, determination, and great passion to succeed. As a result, Birmingham was born, and out of the minerals red soil grew one of the greatest cities in the South. It grew so quickly that many said it must be a magic city. Today this great mountain of red is once again in a position to bring the magic back to Birmingham. I believe it is our responsibility to teach our great past and to provide a place to inspire the next generations to see our city’s great future. We do this by sharing the history of the mountain, the richness of the diverse surrounding communities, and the life stories of individuals that made this magic come to be. The park setting will allow families, friends and communities to gather together for recreation and relaxation for years to come.”

Noel Watters

Chief Park Ranger


Noel got his start in the outdoor industry in the early 90’s at Oak Mountain State Park working at the Fishing Center and Park Entrance. From there he moved to the Assistant Manager of the Campground. With a passion for whitewater, Noel became a river guide on the Ocoee for High Country Outfitters and spent ten years on the river as a kayak instructor, swift water rescue instructor, river manager and guide. After finishing his BS in Criminal Justice Noel moved on to Glenwood Inc. where he ran a wilderness program for teenage boys. Noel has also worked in the retail world as the GM of Mountain High Out fitters and the District Manager of Alabama Outdoors.

Michael Davis

Park Ranger


A local to the Birmingham area, Michael Davis describes himself as laid-back, with a “love life attitude.” He resides in Pleasant Grove with his wife of 14 years and their two children. Michael is a former military man, having spent 12 years in the Navy. Aside from being a Park Ranger, Michael enjoys his career as a Field Trainer for the University of Alabama-Birmingham Police Department. His interests include cars, the Auburn Tigers and the Green Bay Packers. Michael has a passion for writing and is an aspiring author. He writes fictional horror stories and currently has four poems published.

“I think Red Mountain Park is a positive extra to the city and I hope to see it maintain its wonderful allure.”

Tony Harper

Park Ranger


Tony is a Birmingham native who enjoys the history of Birmingham and Red Mountain. His favorite book is the Bible and his favorite teacher is Jesus.

Tony received an Associate Degree in Fire Science at Jefferson State and a Paramedic License through UAB. He has been involved with EMS since 1997 and has worked as a firefighter since 1999. Tony enjoys outdoor activities, which include hiking, sea kayaking/canoeing, mountain biking and camping. He also enjoys wildlife, traveling, making memories with his family and meeting people.

“I hope Red Mountain Park can play role in giving back and uniting the citizens throughout the Greater Metro area.”