Speakers & Artists | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Speakers & Artists

Lisa Abbott is Organizing and Leadership Development Director with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. She began work with KFTC in 1992 as a community organizer in Floyd, Pike, and Lawrence counties. She received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy with an emphasis in Leadership Development from the University of Maryland in 2001. She lives in Berea with her husband Justin and two boys, Myles and Hollis.

Lauren Adams is a work-study student at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. She is a gifted visual artist, actress, and producer. Since coming to Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College, she has directed a two-act high school play with students at Harlan County High School, been a leader on a team of students and community members who created large-scale tile mosaic public art works, been one of the student leaders on six Crawdad student arts festivals, acted in the Higher Ground community dramas, designed exceptionally good t-shirts and posters for Crawdad, designed a website and maintained Facebook pages for Crawdad, curated and mounted several student art exhibits, and participated in the Southeast Community Choir. She has spoken on behalf of the college’s cultural work at the Appalachian Teaching Project, and was interviewed by Appalshop filmmaker Tom Hansell for his film about the future of coal mining. She has taken multiple Appalachian Studies classes, and Honors seminars in the arts. She is articulate about the issues facing the region, and in particular its young people.

Alexa Arnold has a BA in Geography and Political Science from the University of Kentucky.  She is an Organizer for Community Farm Alliance, working to develop policies and programs that support Kentucky's small-scale farmers and local food consumers. Alexa focuses on supporting market development for farmers and also facilitates the Eastern Kentucky Food Systems Collaborative, a food systems information sharing and advocacy network. She previously spent two years managing the Lexington Farmers Market.

Jason Bailey is Director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and Research and Policy Director of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development. Since 1998 he has worked as a researcher addressing economic development and economic security issues in the Commonwealth, and is the former Co-Director of the Democracy Resource Center. Jason is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Rural Policy Research Institute. He has a master’s in public administration with a specialization in public finance from New York University and a bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman College.

Patricia Beaver is Director of the Center for Appalachian Studies and Professor of Anthropology at Appalachian State University.   Beaver helped arrange the exchange of Welsh miners and Dr. Francis to the US in 1979, and with Helen Lewis, developed ASU’s Summer Study Abroad seminar in Wales in 2001. She is author of numerous books and articles on Appalachia.

Regina Becknell is Enterprise Development Project Specialist with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development. She staffs MACED's eastern Kentucky office in Paintsville. She most recently served as the president of the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce in Prestonsburg, KY. In addition to her position with the Chamber, Regina worked part-time for the Morehead State University Small Business Development Center. Regina is a graduate of Berea College and is committed to the development of locally owned businesses.

Tim Belcher graduated from Alice Lloyd College in 1987 and went on to attend Law School at Salmon P. Chase College of Law. Admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1990, he has practiced in Northern Kentucky and been an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney in Pike County before returning to his hometown of Elkhorn City where he is practicing at present. Tim limits his practice to representing people never corporations or insurance companies. Tim is very involved in civic activities in Pike County and Elkhorn City. He is the President of the Elkhorn City Area Heritage Council, Vice Chair of the Elkhorn City Main Street Renaissance and a past member of the Pike County, Pikeville and Elkhorn City Planning and Zoning Board. He also has served in the past on the Board of Directors for the Pine Mountain Trail Conference. You can read his ramblings on his blog “Life in a Small Town Law Office” at http://timbelcher.wordpress.com/

Whitney Blackburn-Lynch is a PhD student at the University if Kentucky focusing in stream restoration in mined lands. Prior to her returning to school for a PhD, Whitney spent several years working for the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources in the Mine Permitting Division and several years working for a consulting company as senior engineer in hydrology and watershed modeling relating to coal mining issues. She has worked on projects to develop models for minimizing stream impacts due to hollowfill construction as well as projects to reduce runoff and flooding from active mine sites.

Ted Boettner is the co-founding Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. Ted brings a wealth of experience and understanding of state fiscal issues. In addition to running the Center, he is the author of numerous reports on state tax and budget issues, economic development, and family economic security, including the annual “State of Working West Virginia.” Ted frequently presents analyses of policy proposals to the West Virginia Legislature and testifies before committees. He also regularly addresses statewide civic groups on state tax, budget and economic policies and is frequently quoted in news stories on those topics. In 2013, Ted was appointed to a three year term as a primary member to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), an advisory committee within the Department of Interior. In 2011, The State Journal named Ted “one of the most influential businesses leaders” in West Virginia. Ted also serves on the board of directors of Cabin Creek Health Systems and Mountain State Justice and he is an adjunct instructor at West Virginia University Institute of Technology. Ted holds a B.S. in journalism from West Virginia University and a M.A. in political science from the University of New Hampshire.

Ivy Brashear joined the staff of MACED in February 2013 as a communications associate. Before joining MACED, she was the chief blogger at The Rural Blog, which is a product of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky. She has been a reporter at The Hazard Herald in Hazard, Kentucky, a filmmaker for the Appalachian Media Institute, a staff assistant with the Kentucky RIVERKEEPER, and has been involved with several nonprofit organizations that focus primarily on Kentucky and Central Appalachia. She is currently attending graduate school at the University of Kentucky in the Community and Leadership Development program, from which she hopes to gain her Master's degree in May 2013. She enjoys hiking, traveling, writing poetry, spending time with her family and getting muddy with Poppyseed, her five-year-old German shepherd mix.

Teresa Brown is a graduate of Morehead State University with a Bachelors of Business Administration and Masters of Business Administration Degree.  She is a certified Entrepreneurial Coach and helps small and rural businesses to start or grow their business.  As a business owner herself with over 30 years experience in retail sales, management, business ownership, and non-profit management, Teresa understands the challenges business and charitable organizations face in an economically disadvantaged area.  She is the recipient of the 2012 Northeast Kentucky Small Business Women and Minority Advocate Award for her efforts in supporting small business.  Currently, Teresa is employed as the office manager for Craig’s Auto Sales, Inc. in Olive Hill, KY.  A business she operates along with her husband Craig.  They have one daughter, Kristin.  Teresa is an active community volunteer and is a member of the Olive Hill Main Street Renaissance Program, the Council for Planning and Restoration, the Carter County Library Board of Trustees, and is a member of the Olive Hill and Grayson Chambers of Commerce.  She resides with her family in Olive Hill.

Carrie Brunk lives on Clear Creek in Rockcastle County, Kentucky and works as an organizer, facilitator and writer.  She is committed to changing the world for the better and collaborates with people and organizations that share a social change purpose.  Carrie supported KFTC in developing the program for Appalachia’s Bright Future and is excited to participate in this critical conversation.

Dee Davis is the founder and president of the Center for Rural Strategies. Dee has helped design and lead national public information campaigns on topics as diverse as commercial television programming and federal banking policy. He began his media career in 1973 as a trainee at Appalshop, an arts and cultural center devoted to exploring Appalachian life and social issues in Whitesburg, Kentucky. As Appalshop's executive producer, the organization created more than 50 public TV documentaries, established a media training program for Appalachian youth, and launched initiatives that use media as a strategic tool in organization and development.  Dee is the chair of the National Rural Assembly steering committee; he is a member of the Rural Advisory Committee of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the boards of directors of Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Fund for Innovative Television, and Feral Arts of Brisbane, Australia. He is also a member of the Institute for Rural Journalism’s national advisory board as well as the advisory board of the Rural Policy Research Institute.

Margaret Hensley Dunn, P.G., C.P.G., is the President of Stream Restoration Inc., a non-profit that focuses on developing public-private partnerships with all stakeholders interested in working together to implement sustainable solutions to mine drainage issues.  Efforts include the recovery and use of metal-bearing material (sludge) from passive treatment systems to provide funding for small watershed groups and the development and maintenance of www.datashed.org to provide watershed groups with the means to upload water monitoring data, etc. about their passive treatment systems.  As a professional geologist and President of BioMost, Inc., Margaret, as co-inventor, has been issued four US Patents relating to passive mine drainage technology.  Working with Tim Danehy, Shaun Busler, Cliff Denholm, Bryan Page, Buck Neely, and Ryan Mahony, a micro-hydropower project that generates electricity from treated mine water has been recently completed for the Babb Creek Watershed Assn.

Noah Enelow is an Economist for Ecotrust's Knowledge Systems team. His areas of focus include ecological economics, social-ecological resilience, regional impact analysis and mixed-methods field research. His work with Ecotrust has consisted of identifying and developing promising agendas for research and action, measuring the community economic impact of investments, and assisting in communicating the vision and mission of the company through writing and social media. Noah’s graduate training is in development economics, with a focus on rural institutions including cooperatives, agrarian supply chains, and farm labor arrangements. He spent eleven months researching fair trade supply chains and their impacts on coffee farmers in Peru, on a Fulbright fellowship during the 2006-7 academic year. Noah also brings three years of experience teaching development economics, international trade, and economic history at the college level. He holds a B.A. in Literature from Yale University and a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Bill Estep grew up in Pulaski County, where his family had a small farm. He’s a graduate of Pulaski County High School and Western Kentucky University, and has been a reporter for 30 years as of March 2013. His first job was at the Tri-City News in Cumberland, when it was owned by Tom and Pat Gish. He worked at the Somerset Commonwealth-Journal before moving to the Lexington Herald-Leader in August 1985. At the H-L, he has been, variously, a bureau reporter covering Southern and Eastern Kentucky; a projects reporter; head of the state capitol bureau; and a general assignment reporter. His office is in Somerset and he has primary responsibility for covering Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

Tanner Filyaw is Forestry Program Associate for Rural Action, a nonprofit based in southeastern Ohio. He attended Ohio University from 2001 to 2005, earning a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Geography and a minor in Environmental and Plant Biology. Since 2005, first as an Americorp VISTA and now as a staff member, Tanner has worked with Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry program conducting landowner education and outreach around sustainable forestry, land stewardship, and non-timber forest products. Tanner serves as the organization’s Non-Timber Forest Products Specialist. He has conducted workshops, presentations, and other educational programs for Appalachian landowners to help develop sustainable income strategies from forest lands. In his spare time, Tanner experiments with producing forest-grown mushrooms, maple syrup, American ginseng, and a variety of other edible and medicinal forest plants.

Anthony Flaccavento is an organic farmer near Abingdon, Virginia, in the heart of Appalachian Virginia. He has worked for community environmental and economic development in central Appalachia for the past 28 years. In 1995, he founded Appalachian Sustainable Development, which became a regional and national leader in sustainable economic development. Anthony left ASD in December, 2009 to found SCALE, Inc, a private consulting business dedicated to catalyzing and supporting ecologically healthy regional economies and food systems. He has written and spoken about sustainable development, ecology and economics, food systems, and Appalachian issues extensively and continues to do so today. In 2012 he ran for Congress in Virginia’s ninth district with a platform focused on building a thriving local economy. Anthony has a BS degree in Agriculture and Environmental Science from the University of Kentucky and a Masters degree in Economic and Social Development from the University of Pittsburgh. He is married with three children.

Hywel Francis is Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon, Wales.  Raised in a coal mining family, Francis is Professor Emeritus at Swansea University where he was the founder of the South Wales Miners' Library (1973), the Valleys Initiative for Adult Education (1987) and the Community University of the Valleys (1993), and a prime mover in the creation of the Richard Burton Archives (2010).

Mair Francis is president of the DOVE Workshop, a women's training centre in the Dulais valley of Wales. During the 1984-85 miners' strike she was actively involved in the woman’s support group for the miners.  Her experiences with the strike lead her to found the DOVE workshops.  She has participated in international exchanges with women's organizations from coalmining areas throughout Europe.  Mair is currently the Senior Parliamentary Assistant for Hywel Francis.

Lesa Gierienger is an entrepreneur with over 10 years experiences as a working artist in both retail and wholesale pottery sales.  She received recognition from the Kentucky Small Business Development industry for Powdermill Pottery business success in 2011. Lesa now resides in Jackson county where she has her wholesale production operation but consults with artisans and teaches youth throughout southeast Kentucky.

Robert Gipe is the director of the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky. He is one of the executive producers of the Higher Ground series of community dramas. He is the former director of Marketing and Educational Services at Appalshop, a media arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. He grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Heather Lee Gross is a Location Coordinator for Sharing With Appalachian People (SWAP) and the secretary for Holy Trinity's after school tutoring center in Harlan, KY. Although she lived most of her life as a military dependent, she is a native Harlan countian and has resided in Loyall, KY since 2006. Since returning to her hometown, she has involved herself in many local community organizations and projects including the Artists' Attic, Christ's Hands, Higher Ground, Kudzu Killers and SKCTC Community Choir.

Nathan Hall is a native of Allen, KY and now lives in neighboring Knott County where he raises a sizable garden, some of which is sold through local farmers markets. He is the Reforestation Coordinator for Green Forests Work, a non-profit dedicated to restoring the native forests on lands affected by surface mining throughout Appalachia. Past projects include design and fabrication of biodiesel production systems, consulting on various renewable energy installations, and start up and management of community bike repair programs.

Ethan Hamblin was raised on Gays Creek, KY in southeast Kentucky. He is currently enrolled at Berea College where he is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Appalachian Studies. His future plans are to receive a graduate degree in philanthropy and nonprofit leadership. Ethan serves as the student intern for the Brushy Fork Institute and is also an active member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Bereans for Fairness, and Appalachian Emerging Leaders Network. He is currently serving as a steering committee member for the National Rural Youth Assembly, Interfaith Appalachia and Stay Together Appalachian Youth (STAY). During the summers of 2011 and 2012, he served as the student intern for the Foundation of Appalachian Kentucky. In his spare time, Ethan co-authors Dispatches from the Down Home Divas, a newspaper column/blog focusing on the convergence of Appalachian and queer identity. He enjoys cooking, front porch sitting, and sweet tea.

 Tom Hansell is a documentary filmmaker who teaches at Appalachian State University.  Hansell has twenty years experience at the Appalshop Media Arts Center working with coalfield residents to create media about their communities.  His documentary work has been broadcast nationally on public television and has screened at international film festivals. His most recent documentary project, The Electricity Fairy, premièred at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010.

Kelli Haywood (34) and Deladis Haywood (7) are a mother and daughter living on a farm in Knott County, Kentucky.  The Haywood family of 5 (1 dad, 1 mom, and 3 daughters) is submersed in the radical homemaking lifestyle.  Both parents are self-employed and the children are homeschooled. The Haywoods are working toward a sustainable and creative lifestyle that utilizes their individual talents to best serve their community.

Peter Hille is the Executive Vice President of MACED (Mountain Association for Community Economic Development). Previously, he was director of the Brushy Fork Institute of Berea College. For more than twenty years he has conducted local, regional, national and international leadership and community development programs. Currently he works with MACED's programs in energy, forestry, and enterprise development. He lives with his wife in a passive solar home they designed and built in the midst of fifty acres of forest near Berea, Kentucky.

 Holly Hopkins is the Executive Director of the Rockcastle County Industrial Development Authority and is instrumental in local economic development in her county. She has been a key player in supporting local leaders and entrepreneurs to develop place-based strategies that leverage their local assets from the community.

Todd Howard is a farmer in the small community of Hippo in Floyd County. Todd manages the Floyd County Farmers Market and is one of the leading forces behind its recent growth. He is a farmer-mentor for the Grow Appalachia Project in Floyd County and serves on the board of Community Farm Alliance. Besides producing greenhouse plant starts for the public, he farms on several plots of land producing a variety of vegetables for the Farmers’ Market and other markets. Todd lives with his wife Vylinda and two young children.

Wahleah Johns is a member of the Navajo (Dine) tribe and the community of Forest Lake, which is one of several communities atop Black Mesa, Arizona. Wahleah's work with the Black Mesa Water Coalition and Navajo Green Economy Coalition has led to groundbreaking legislative victories for groundwater protection, green jobs and environmental justice. As vice chair of the Navajo Green Economy Commission, she is developing green economic opportunities in clean energy and traditional economic practices.

One of nine children, Gwenda Huff Johnson grew up in Eastern Kentucky on a small family farm just off a dirt road. She enjoyed exploring the outdoors, wading creeks, wandering through the woods, watching wildlife and playing in the barn. Nothing changed as she became an adult and a professional. As County extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Elliott County, she teaches about the streams, forests, and works to preserve family farms. Gwenda’s goal is to create a self sustaining healthy community. She strives to present educational programs that encourage healthy lifestyles, community development through local leadership, and environmental stewardship. She believes the environment and the arts are the most valuable teaching tools in her tool box. She says her greatest successes are her two sons Joshua and Kevin.

Torin Kexel is Building Performance Director at Green Opportunities in Asheville, North Carolina. In 2008 Torin helped create the GO Energy Team, a social enterprise branch of Green Opportunities. The goal of the GO Energy Team is to promote environmental justice by giving people with barriers to employment a chance to earn employment in the building performance industry. Torin has worked at all levels of the business from air-sealing in attics to performing trainings to writing grants in the office.  He is a certified HERS Rater, BPI Building Analyst, Envelope Professional, and Accessible Areas Air Leakage Control Installer. His greatest aspiration in this position is to help Appalachia move towards a greener more equitable economy so that all communities can reap the benefits of the jobs created by better building performance.

Amelia Kirby is the communications and development coordinator at the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center, a non-profit law firm providing free legal work for people impacted by the extraction industries of the Appalachian coalfields.  In addition to her work at ACLC, she is the co-owner of Summit City Lounge, a restaurant/bar/music venue in Whitesburg, KY. Amelia has been involved in Appalachian community change work as a media artist, small-business owner, cultural worker and activist.

Burt Lauderdale is the Executive Director of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.  He is a graduate of Auburn University and has been with KFTC since 1983.  His responsibilities include leadership identification and development, campaign development, organizer training, strategy development and fundraising. He lives in London, Kentucky.

Helen Lewis has taught, organized, conducted research, and published numerous books and articles in Appalachia since the 1950s, and has conducted research and made films in Welsh coalfield communities during the 1970s. As Director of Highlander Center in New Market, Tennessee, she organized exchanges involving U.S. and Welsh coal miners.  She is currently retired and lives in Abingdon, VA. 

Tom Manning-Beavin has worked in the affordable housing field for more than 20 years. He is currently Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation’s (KHIC) Director of Housing. KHIC is a regional Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) focused on supporting entrepreneurship, business growth, community development and housing. KHIC operates several housing programs including a mutual self-help program, an initiative to build near-zero energy homes using passive house design standards and photovoltaic power generation systems, and an initiative to create energy efficient modular units using surplus manufacturing capacity in collaboration with the University of Kentucky College of Design and a local houseboat manufacturer. He also serves as the President of Southern Tier Housing Corporation and the Executive Director of McCreary County Community Housing Development Corporation. Tom began his career with the Appalachia Service Project in Lee County, Virginia, where he coordinated single-family new construction and owner-occupied rehabilitation, and handled housing counseling and loan origination duties. Tom holds a BA from Earlham College, and currently serves on the board of the National Rural Housing Coalition and the Steering Committee of the National Rural Self-Help Housing Association.

Bob Martin is an actor, director, teaching artist and cultural activist who lives on Clear Creek in Rockcastle County, KY.  He creates and collaborates in performance and art that is rooted in the needs, memories, and possibilities of the community from which it is born. His work ranges from original community story-based theater to filmmaking and digital storytelling to creating community-driven art events and festivals. Bob also uses theater and story to facilitate trainings and professional development sessions with artists, teachers, and cultural organizers.  As a KFTC member and past director of Harlan Co.’s community story play, Higher Ground 3: Talkin’ Dirt, he is excited to be part of the conversation about Appalachia’s Bright Future.

Bennie Massey worked for 30 years as an underground coal miner with US Steel and Arch Coal. He’s lived in the community of Lynch, Kentucky all his life. He has served as a deacon at the Mount Sinai Church since 1972, and as a volunteer with the local fire department for at least 30 years. Bennie has been elected 17 times to the City Council in Lynch, where he continues to serve today. He’s quick to point out that he is not alone in any of these efforts, and appreciates his many friends and colleagues who work together for the needs of their community.

Josh May is a 24 year old native of Magoffin County, Kentucky. He recently relocated to Whitesburg and works with Appalshop's youth media training program, the Appalachian Media Institute. Josh interned at the Highlander Research and Education Center, near Knoxville, Tennessee, where he worked on multi-issue youth organizing across the region. Josh is currently involved with the Stay Together Appalachian Youth Project, as well as South Magoffin Community Activists and Highlander's Seeds of Fire intergenerational leadership development program.

Justin Maxson is President of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development. He first came to MACED in 1995 as director of community development for the Letcher County Action Team, a grassroots sustainable development organization in eastern Kentucky. Justin's work focused on leadership development, program development and community-based problem solving. From 1998 to early 2002, Justin was executive director of the Progressive Technology Project, a national grant making and technical assistance organization working to strengthen grassroots social change efforts through the strategic use of technology. Justin returned to MACED in February of 2002 as vice-president and was named president in November 2002. Justin brings many years of nonprofit experience focused on capacity building, program development, organizational development and social change. He has a master's in anthropology from Boston University.

Rutland Melton is a former underground mine shuttle car operator from Lynch, KY. He’s a Higher Ground cast member, and an advocate for justice and a better quality of life for all people. He provides leadership through the ARH Hospital Board, East KY Social Club, Mount Sinai Spirituals, Honor Guard and KFTC.

Pam Oldfield Meade has worked as a visual artist and a community art advocate for nearly 30 years.  Living and working on her 5th generation family farm in Morgan County in eastern Kentucky her art draws from tradition, personal experience and issues facing people and land in eastern Kentucky.  She has worked with area art organizations including West Liberty Area Arts Council, Epicentre Arts and Whitesburg Artwalk to create exhibit opportunities for visual artists.

Theresa Osborne has lived in Harlan County for nearly 17 years. She works with the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and is a writer, performer and organizer with Higher Ground.

Chris Owen was born and raised in Calloway County, KY and received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2007. There, and since then, contemporary artists (Keith Haring, Matthew Barney and Peter Halley), and folk artists alike (Gee’s Bend Quilters, Monica Pipia, Bruce New) have all become influences on his art, process and philosophies.  His paintings and drawings focus on the oldness and newness – the history and past in objects, individuals, communities, landscapes and eras; and how those two opposing moments come together to create a present. As a member of the southern artist/activist collective—Alternate Roots---he is learning how to transform his traditional artistic skills toward community service and social justice ends. He currently resides in Baltimore, MD where he works and is currently creating a community for young/emerging artists.

Bryan J. Page is a 2009 Slippery Rock University graduate with degrees in Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Science.  Bryan has been working with Stream Restoration Inc. and BioMost, Inc. to assist watershed groups on various abandoned mine drainage restoration projects throughout Pennsylvania.  Projects include working with the Babb Creek Watershed Association on the design and installation of the Antrim Micro-Hydropower Plant, the Montour Run Watershed Association on the installation of a trompe at the North Fork Passive Treatment System, the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition on the recovery and use of metal-bearing material from passive treatment systems, the Cowanshannock Creek Watershed Association on rehabilitating the Vertical Flow Pond at the NuMine Passive Treatment System, and many others.

Natasha Painter is a Harlan County native and performer with the Higher Ground Project.  She is currently studying at EKU and plans to graduate with a degree in Social Work later this year.

Sara Pennington joined KFTC's staff in April 2009 as a New Power Campaign Organizer, working to engage Kentucky's rural electric cooperatives and support their move toward more energy efficiency and clean energy. Originally from West Virginia, she now lives in Berea. Sara holds a Ph.D. in creative writing from Florida State University and is working on publishing her first book of poetry.

Mimi Pickering is an award-winning filmmaker and director of Appalshop’s Community Media Initiative. As CMI director, Pickering is collaborating with WMMT-FM on Making Connections: Diversifying Our Future, a media storybank sharing news, ideas, & information for building a healthy and just future in Appalachia (www.makingconnectionsnews.org). She lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Shawn Poynter was born in Kentucky and now lives in Tennessee. Between leaving home and the slight southern migration, he studied photojournalism at Western Kentucky University and shot pictures for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Mexico, and Illinois. Now in Knoxville, he divides his time between freelance editorial and portraiture work and a full-time job at the Center for Rural Strategies, a nonprofit organization that uses media to improve life in small communities across the country. He is also the photo editor at the Daily Yonder, a news site that covers national rural issues.

Carrie Ray is Research and Policy Associate with MACED, with a focus on sustainable agriculture, forestry and biomass. A Kentucky native, Carrie received her Master’s degree in International Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, and moved back home as soon as possible. Prior to joining MACED, she coordinated grassroots organizations throughout the South for a nonprofit energy network. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, baking, reading and spending time outdoors with her husband and their three dogs.

Martin Richards is Executive Director for Community Farm Alliance. For years Martin farmed his family’s land in Woodford County. He is a graduate of UK’s College of Architecture was a partner in Prajna Design/Construction, Inc. He also worked with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth as an organizer focused on energy and sustainability issues. Martin has been an active member of Community Farm Alliance for nearly two decades, serving as the CFA’s board president in 1998. He was a CFA Fellow during the effort to pass HB 611 through the state legislature, a bill that created the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.

Anna Roberts-Gevalt is a fiddler, folklorist & artist based in southwest Virginia. A Vermont native who moved to the mountains to immerse herself in Appalachian music, she has apprenticed with the masters of the Kentucky fiddle tradition: Brue Greene, John Harrod and Paul David Smith, as well as banjo players Lee Sexton and Earl Thomas. She was a fellowship recipient at Berea College to do research into the lives of female fiddlers in Kentucky, and is in the process of filming a documentary about the Kentucky Clodhoppers, an Estill & Clark County string band. She recently produced a compilation album of young traditional musicians The New Young Fogies, with Joseph DeJarnette; has taught at fiddle camps throughout the southeast, and is currently faculty coordinator of the Cowan Music School in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Gerry Roll is the executive director of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, a community foundation committed to establishing an endowment in southeastern Kentucky based on the principles of rural development philanthropy.  The Foundation was created in 2006 by Hazard Perry County Community Ministries, where Gerry served as executive director for 18 years.  Her work in eastern Kentucky has been focused on equity in housing, early childhood education, and health care.  In addition to the community foundation, under her leadership Hazard and Perry County established a regional Community Housing Development Organization, a federally qualified health center; a quality rated early care and education system and a full continuum of other support services for working families.  She is recognized locally, regionally, statewide and nationally as an advocate for rural development and community philanthropy.  Gerry lives in Busy Kentucky with her husband Dan who is an architect.

Kevin Rowe is Business Development Manager with WoodRight, a project of Appalachian Sustainable Development based in Abigndon, Virginia. He graduated from Emory and Henry College with degrees in Business Management and Political Science. Prior to joining WoodRight, Kevin worked with Dominion Truss, Sterling Building Systems, and STOCK Building Supply. Kevin not only loves the beauty that our region's hardwoods can add to a building, but also the flavor they can add when smoking locally-raised grass-fed briskets on the KCBS competition barbeque circuit. When Kevin is not peddling local wood wares, he is often pedaling his Specialized Roubaix road bike through the rural back roads of Central Appalachia.

Austin Rutherford is from Benham, KY and joined Higher Ground in early 2011 during his senior year at Harlan County High School.  He has been working on the project ever since as an actor, stage manager, visual artist, and assistant director.

Sylvia Ryerson is a radio journalist and the director of public affairs programming for WMMT 88.7 Mountain Community Radio at the Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY.  Some of Sylvia's current production projects include Making Connections News, a multimedia series highlighting the possibilities and obstacles for a healthy economic transition in the Appalachian region, and a radio documentary that investigates the impacts of prison growth in the mountains of Central Appalachia. Sylvia also teaches fiddle in the Letcher County elementary schools as a part of Appalshop’s traditional music program, and has served as a youth media trainer for Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute. Her work appears regularly on Kentucky Public Radio and on West Virginia Public Radio's Inside Appalachia.

Elizabeth Sanders was raised in eastern Kentucky. She is committed to building stronger and healthier communities so young people in the region have the option to stay and make good lives in the places they call home. She is a member of the STAY (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) Network and provides leadership and service through WMMT 88.7 FM, Central Appalachian Prisoner Support Network, and KFTC.

Tom Sexton graduated from Morehead State University, where he was the sports editor for MSU’s award-winning campus newspaper The Trailblazer. He was Video Coordinator for Morehead State’s Men’s Basketball Team from 2010-2011. During that time Morehead won an Ohio Valley Conference Championship and participated in the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament where they upset nationally ranked Louisville in the first round. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for the Clinton Foundation, where he co-coordinated, in conjunction with NPR’s Story Corps, the Clinton Presidential Center’s Oral History project and served as a host to special guests including prominent lawmakers, business people, and even members of President Clinton’s own family.  He is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared online at Daily Yonder and Counterkicks, and in The Source magazine. He is a Leo with Aquarius rising, from Whitesburg, KY, where he serves on the city council and lives with his two cats.

Carl Shoupe was born and raised in Lynch, Kentucky. He’s a 3rd generation coal miner, a former US Marine and Vietnam War veteran, and a former UMWA organizer. He is Papaw to eight wonderful grandchildren and one marvelous great grandchild. He’s a proud member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, and his Christian faith is his cornerstone that keeps him going and working for a brighter future in Appalachia.

Scott Shouse is a forester with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development. He joined MACED's staff in January 2008 after several months of consulting work with the Forest Opportunities Initiative. Scott's responsibilities are focused on the carbon credits program but also include other sustainable forestry work. He has diverse forestry experience including tropical agro-forestry, urban forestry, forestry research and social/environmental certification. He is also experienced in database design and implementation as well as Geographic Information Systems. Scott holds a Masters of Science degree in forestry from the University of Kentucky.

Roy Silver, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. He is the chairperson of the Local Control of Assets sub-committee for the Central Appalachian Regional Network. He first testified on creating a Futures Fund using coal severance tax dollars to stimulate economic diversity in eastern Kentucky in the early 1990s for KFTC.

Ada Smith is from Whitesburg, KY.  She graduated from Hampshire College and has been rooted at home ever since. She is currently an Interim Co-Director for Appalshop's Appalachian Media Institute, which trains young people from eastern Kentucky on how to use media to address the critical issues in their communities. Ada is a founding member of The STAY Project- a youth-run, multi-issue central Appalachian regional network, and is coordinating their activities this year.

Al Smith is a veteran journalist and a prominent advocate on many public issues affecting eastern Kentucky and the commonwealth as a whole. From 1974 to 2007 he hosted Comment on Kentucky, a weekly public affairs program on Kentucky Educational Television. Earlier in his career he was a newspaper publisher at a number of small town papers, including in Russellville and London, Kentucky. He served as the Director of the Appalachian Regional Commission during the Carter and Reagan administrations. He is also one of the founders of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of several books, including his latest memoir, Kentucky Cured: Fifty Years in Kentucky Journalism.

Brendan Smith is an ocean farmer and co-founder of Labor Network for Sustainability. Called a “visionary” by Barton Seaver, Director of Harvard’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Program, Bren has pioneered the development of sustainable ocean 3-D farming – the vertical cultivation of seaweed and shellfish in local waters. Bren’s farm is designed to restore ocean ecosystems, mitigate climate change, grow bio-fuels and create blue-green jobs for local fishing communities — while ensuring healthy, local food for communities.  Over the years, Bren has worked a wide array of jobs in the commercial fisheries, ranging from long-lining for McDonald’s on the Bering Sea and “sliming” in the canneries of Bristol Bay, Alaska to lobstering in Lynn, Massachusetts and salmon farming in Newfoundland, Canada. His farm has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and elsewhere and his commentary has appeared in National Geographic, The Atlantic, and CBS News.com. Brendan worked previously for Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as a senior legislative aide, staff on the U.S. House Banking Committee and campaign director. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School.

Clair Stines is a graduate of Harlan Independent High School. She took a bookkeeping course out of high school and got a job with Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. Eighteen months later she became project director. It was her job to connect people seeking work with job training and employment opportunities. Clair left eastern Kentucky in 1983 to become an RN in Knoxville, TN. Several decades later she returned to take care of her elderly parents and has been here ever since. She has two daughters and four grandchildren in elementary, middle and high schools in Harlan County.

Suzanne (Sue) Tallichet is Chairperson of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and a Professor of Sociology at Morehead State University. Since 2004, she has served in a variety of positions with the Rowan County KFTC Chapter including Chapter Chair and Steering Committee Chapter Representative. She is also a long-standing member of KFTC’s Land Reform and Litigation committees. At Morehead State, she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in rural and environmental sociology and seminars in Appalachian studies. In her classes, she examines the economic, political and socio-cultural future of coal-impacted communities with students from the region, while emphasizing the need for more civic engagement toward making democracy work. Some of her research interests have resulted in numerous articles and a book about women in underground coal mining. In 2006 she published "Daughters of the Mountain: Women Coal Miners in Central Appalachia." Currently, she is working on two research projects: one examining the use of science in discourse about the health effects of mountaintop removal and the other highlighting the importance of KFTC's citizen water testing program. She lives on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rowan County.

Kathlyn Terry is the Executive Director for Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), a regionally-focused nonprofit that supports the creation of sustainable local economies in southwest VA and northeast TN. Kathlyn has a bachelor’s in business administration and over 20 years in the for-profit sector where she worked in medium-sized ($500M) companies where she held leadership positions in operations and project management. Prior to becoming the Executive Director Kathlyn served as the Business Operations Manager at ASD, with the responsibility of managing ASD’s two social enterprises. Her current passion is learning how to make the nonprofits that operate social enterprises sustainable themselves.

Tanya Turner is an EKU graduate from Bell County, Kentucky. She has been organizing with KFTC since 2010 with our Perry, Harlan, and Letcher counties, as well as supporting an emerging chapter in Knox County at Union College.  She serves on the Advisory Committee for Highlander's  'Seeds of Fire' inter-generational organizing program.  Tanya is a volunteer DJ with WMMT in Whitesburg and beginning quilter with about 12 under her needle.

Joseph B. Uehlein is the founding President and Executive Director of the Labor Network for Sustainability, and Voices for a Sustainable Future. Joe is the former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Department and former director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns. He spent over 30 years doing organizing, bargaining, and strategic campaign work in the labor movement. He also served as the Secretary to the North American Coordinating Committee of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, and Mine Workers unions (ICEM). He is a founding board member of Ceres, a member of the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and served as a senior strategic advisor to the Blue Green Alliance for five years. Joe just completed a fellowship with Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. He also served on the United Nations commission on global warming in the 1990’s. He also serves on the advisory board of the Future of Music Coalition. In the early 1970’s he worked in an aluminum mill as a member of the United Steelworkers of America, and on heavy and highway construction projects as a member of the Laborer’s International Union of North America.  Joe is a musician and a member of the American Federation of Musicians.

Elandria Williams is on the Education Team at Highlander Research and Education Center. She coordinates youth and intergenerational organizing for the Seeds of Fire program and does much of the work around economics and alternative economies. She has been involved in youth activism and organizing and works in popular education and community organizing around anti-oppression, anti-racism, nonviolence, education reform, and intergenerational education with various organizations. She is also on the coordinating committee of the Solidarity Economy Network, Southern Grassroots Economies Project and the Black Immigration Network and is on the board of the Pedagogy of the Theater of the Oppressed.

Randy Wilson is the folk arts director at the Hindman Settlement School where he has worked for the last quarter of a century bringing music, dance, and story telling to the eastern Kentucky community. He has been a member of KFTC for the same period, bringing the banjo to rallies in Frankfort, KY and Washington, DC., and at the United Nations in New York City. He has been a part of many cultural exchanges across this country, including visits with Latino communities in the Bronx, New York and in San Antonio, Texas; Native communities in Alaska; and Arab communities in Dearborn, Michigan. He has also participated in international cultural exchanges in Rome, Italy and mining communities in Colombia in South America. You may hear his Kid’s Radio streaming live from WMMT FM with songs and stories, plus special interviews on subjects ranging from wild salad greens to the history of the mountain dulcimer.

Chris Woolery joined MACED in the summer of 2011 as the residential energy specialist for How$martKY. As a former ENERGY STAR® builder and energy efficiency contractor, Chris has been a pioneer in energy efficient construction and remodeling in central Kentucky for over a decade. Having built 21 ENERGY STAR homes and implemented energy upgrades to over 600 households, Chris has learned which energy improvements are good investments. In working with How$martKY, Chris helps to design and install efficiency upgrades that are paid for out of savings on utility bills. When he is not being an energy nerd, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, especially his two children.

Paul Wright is the Enterprise Development Director for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development. He is responsible for MACED’s Enterprise Development programs throughout the Appalachian service region. Prior to joining MACED in August 2011, Paul was Senior Program Officer at Local Initiatives Support Corporation where he developed a nationally recognized comprehensive community development initiative. With over ten years experience consulting small businesses (including his own), Paul brings a wealth of knowledge to the MACED and east Kentucky entrepreneurs. Paul holds a BS in Business Administration from Birmingham-Southern College and an MBA in Community Economic Development from Eastern College. He resides in Berea with his wife and four kids.

Please check this site often, as we will be adding more information about other invited guests as it comes in.