Full Bios

Nancy Cable

UNC Asheville’s eighth Chancellor, Dr. Nancy J. Cable, is a nationally recognized leader in higher education, educational access, financial aid and affordability, and liberal arts and sciences curricula. She has a B.A. from Marietta College, an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Virginia. Prior to serving as the President of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations in Jacksonville, Florida, Dr. Cable served as Interim President and Vice President for Enrollment and External Affairs at Bates College; Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs, and Vice President for Development and Associate Dean for Institutional Advancement in the School of Engineering and Applied at the University of Virginia; and, for thirteen years held increasing roles of responsibility at Davidson College, concluding her work there as Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid.

She brings to the university a depth and breadth of experiences in leadership roles at liberal arts institutions, in generating external resources for the enhancement of the university, and in facilitating the implementation of an ambitious strategic plan. Cable is also currently involved with Ballantine Consulting Partners, a firm which services both colleges and independent schools.

William (Bill) A.V. Cecil, Jr.

William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, Jr. is the President and CEO of The Biltmore Company, which owns and operates Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. He has served in many capacities across the estate, including project coordinator for the construction of Biltmore’s winery, winery manager, and president of the Biltmore Wine Company.  He has served as assistant vice president of operations, vice president and senior vice president of The Biltmore Company.  He is a member of The Biltmore Company Executive Committee and its Board of Directors.

Community relations is an important focus for Cecil. He has served on the Western North Carolina Regional Advisory Board for Wells Fargo since 2007, the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Center Board of Advisors since 2012, and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce Board since 2013; as well as on the board of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (1997-2009), including the office of chairman (2007/2008), and is currently serving on its Community Betterment Foundation (2006-present). Cecil served on the Southeast Tourism Society Board of Directors (2005-2008) and the Manna Food Bank Board of Directors (2000-2006), including holding the office of President (2005).

A graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Cecil earned a degree in environmental conservation. He completed Harvard Business School/Young Presidents’ annual weeklong intensive program (2009-present), Leadership Asheville 8, the Young Executive Institute at the University of North Carolina, Bell Leadership Institute’s Leader’s Roundtable program, and has been a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization/World Presidents’ Organization since 1998. Cecil was awarded an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) by Lenoir-Rhyne University in May 2016.  He and his wife have three children/four grandchildren and reside in Asheville, North Carolina.

Jack F.A.V Cecil

Mr. Cecil has served as President and CEO of Biltmore Farms, LLC, since 1992. Established in 1897, Biltmore Farms has focused its efforts on community building, through developing an extensive portfolio of real estate projects including a regional shopping mall, a mixed-use urban village, master planned communities, corporate offices, hotels, apartments, medical office buildings and over 1,000 homes. 

Mr. Cecil serves as a Trustee of The Duke Endowment; Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, Dogwood Health Trust; Director, N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation; Chair of the National Advisory Board of the Institute for Emerging Issues; Director, The Research Triangle Foundation of N.C.; Member, MyFutureNC Commission; Director, Barron Collier Management, LLC; Chair, WNC Regional Advisory Board of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.; and Governor, Urban Land Institute Foundation. 

Mr. Cecil received his M.I.M. from The American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird) and his B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill. 

He has been happily married to Sarah Mettler Cecil since 1993, and they have four wonderful sons, Thomas, Hugh, John, and Owen. 

Pete Upham

Pete has been Executive Director of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) since 2007. TABS is the voice for college prep boarding schools, with  approximately 250 member and subscriber institutions in the United States, Canada, and around the globe. The Association leads a domestic and international effort to promote awareness and understanding of boarding schools and to expand the applicant pool for the sector. TABS is the go-to resource for boarding school leaders and educators seeking professional development. The Association also delivers original research on the advantages and life-long impact of a residential academic experience for students, and on the evolving educational landscape and operating environment for schools.

Earlier in his career, Pete spent thirteen years in boarding school administration and teaching, six as Assistant Head of School at Asheville School in North Carolina. Before his appointment at TABS, Pete was the owner and principal of CWJ Consulting, a firm assisting schools, educational organizations, and non-profits in the areas of strategy, advancement, and planning. His current professional and scholarly interests include educational leadership, school strategy, institutional risk management, workplace learning, organizational culture and change, analytics, and total resource development. He is a frequent speaker and presenter at education conferences, board meetings, and school ceremonies. Pete is former Board President for Hanger Hall, an independent school for girls, and former Vice-President of the Board for the Diocese of Charlotte Schools, a regional Catholic school system. He is also a poet; his work has appeared in a number of national and international journals. Pete was educated at Hotchkiss School. He did his undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar, and earned his M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently completing his doctoral dissertation. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.

Jennifer Pharr Davis

National Geographic Adventurer of the Year

Jennifer Pharr Davis is a hiker, author, speaker, and entrepreneur who loves long trails and good stories. She has covered more than 14,000 miles of long distance trails on six different continents and in 2011 she set the overall (male or female) fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail by hiking a remarkable 47 miles a day for 46 straight days. For this she was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, one of Men’s Journal’s 25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years and she received North Carolina’s Laurel Wreath Award, her home state’s highest honor for athletic achievement.

Jennifer has given talks throughout the US, Canada and Europe to Fortune 500 companies, conferences and schools. She is a prolific writer who has eight titles to her name, as well as articles for the New York Times, Outside magazine, Backpacker, and Blue Ridge Outdoors. 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of her acclaimed trail memoir Becoming Odyssa, which is being re-released this spring. Jennifer is the founder and owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company, a guiding service that strives “to make the wilderness accessible and enjoyable” for hikers of all ages, genders, and ability levels. She has served on the board of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and is an ambassador for the American Hiking Society. Jennifer lives in Asheville with her husband Brew and their daughter Charley and their son Gus.