Wildacres Retreat 2024 Was a Success!

Memorable moments from the 2024 retreat

Wildacres Spring 2024 Retreat Dates: April 22 – 25, 2024

  • Enjoy 3 nights in a Blue Ridge Parkway Mountaintop Resort with 75 of your Senior Scholar friends!
  • Engaging lectures by NC Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls and Political Science Professor Chelsea Kaufman.
  • Waterfalls, hiking paths, fresh air, local entertainers, 8 home-style, all-you-can-eat meals!

All this for only $285/double occupancy. 

Reservations start January 19, 2024 and will fill up fast!


Dr. Chelsea Kaufman

Political Attitudes, Voting Behavior, and the 2024 Election
Click on image for bio

Justice Anita Earls

Gerrymandering and the Erosion of Democracy: Possible Paths Forward
Click on image for bio


2024 Cost for members includes lodging, meals and social hour. 

  • $285/double occupancy*
  • Scholarships are available

Senior Scholars would like for everyone who is interested in the Wildacres Retreat to be able to attend.  With the increase in prices all around, this may be a stretch for some. If you would like to have financial help covering the costs (25%, 50%, or 100%), please send your request to Joni MacDonald (jonimac2@me.com) or Jim Renger (jimrenger@gmail.com). Your request will be kept confidential. 

The Wildacres Scholarship Fund was set up several years ago with donations from members to ensure that all Senior Scholars can participate in the retreats. 

*Note:  Only double rooms are available this year.  If you would like help in finding a roommate, please indicate this on the registration form.

Your request for a special room assignment will be taken into consideration. Street access and handicap rooms due to physical requirements will be addressed.  Other requests will be considered only if there is availability after accommodating physical needs.      


1. Book. The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance by Frye Gaillard (a recent presenter at our Wildacres Retreat) and Cynthia Tucker (a longtime journalist with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), New South Books, 2022. A quote from the book by the late Congressman from Georgia, John Lewis: “Ordinarypeople with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.” (pp. 104-105).

2. Book. Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning by Liz Cheney (a former Congresswoman from Wyoming), Little,Brown, 2023. “There is a reason why people serving in our government take an oath to the Constitution. As our founding fathers recognized, democracy is fragile. People in positions of public trust are duty bound to defend it – to step forward when action is required.” (book jacket back cover).

3. Book. The Real Washington Consensus: Modernization Theory and the Delusions of American Strategy by Charles King (Professor at Georgetown University) in the November/December 2023 Foreign Affairs. “Affective polarization – the sense among voters and their leaders that the other side is not merely wrong but malicious – will present problems for the peaceful transition of power and the respect for national institutions, especially in what has effectively become a federation of one – party states. An electoral system blatantly corrupt by the standards of other established democracies, awash in private money and with weak mechanisms of internal reform, will embolden authoritarians who promise to destroy it all in one cleansing fire.” (p. 103).

4. Article (requires subscription to NYT): Rural Voters Republican Realignment

5. Book. Tyranny of the Minority by Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky.

6. Book. The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality. Chris Mooney (2012), John Wiley & Sons.

7. Pdf link. Anatomy of a NC Gerrymander

8. Pdf link. How Democracy Died in NC 2019

9. Pdf link. Vance County – The Roots of Gerrymandering in NC

10. Book. The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness and the Rise of Scott Walker by Katherine Cramer 

11. Book. Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America by John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Vavreck

12. Website, factors working for and against Trump. Perception Gap.

13. Article by Chelsea Kaufman, pdf link. Where are the Values Voters?

2024 Wildacres Retreat

Relaxing days of learning, reflection, fellowship, laughter, entertainment, solitude, sharing and hiking at this beautiful 1,400 acre wilderness retreat near the Blue Ridge Parkway in the spectacular mountains of western North Carolina.

Organized by Co-chairs:  Jim Gronquist and Jeanne Smith

Quick Links

Wildacres Photo Albums

Wildacres Spring 2022