Meet Our Team

Staff  |  Board of Directors  |  Interns

Ashton JohnstonAshton Johnston – NC GIS Intern

Ashton is a student at Appalachian State where she is studying Geographic Information Science with a minor in Anthropology. Growing up in rural North Carolina she was exposed and encouraged to love and value the outdoors. Almost all her free time is spent outside, typically hiking with her dog Khaleesi. As a lover of the snow, she is happy to now call Boone her home. In the future, she hopes to utilize Geographic Information Science to help manage natural resources as well as expose environmental injustice issues.

sowers_calebCaleb Sowers – Central Appalachian Assistant

Caleb lives among the apple orchards of Fruitland, NC, and graduated from Asheville High School. He is now a sophomore at Emory University, where he is pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.S. in Quantitative Science and Statistics. He is a member of the Emory University Committee on the Environment and leads several sustainability-focused campus organizations. He hopes to pursue a career in either climate science or clean energy economics. Caleb analyzes many types of ecological and geographical data to predict what waters are most threatened by pollution. He is an avid mountain biker and can be found in DuPont or Pisgah on most clear days.

hayes_carrieCarrie Hayes – Graphics Assistant

Carrie Hayes is a senior at Appalachian State University where she is studying Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology with a minor in General Business. She was born and raised in Boone, N.C. and has always loved the outdoors. During her free time, she enjoys hiking and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains. Carrie also has a passion for landscape photography. She hopes to use her artistic skills to inspire people to get out and find the beauty in our world and to have a positive impact on our community.

gentry_chrisChris Gentry – Energy Savings Research Assistant

Chris is a junior at Appalachian State University where he is studying political science with a concentration in international comparative politics. He grew up all over the place, but spent the few years before college in Waynesville, North Carolina. He is a member of the Town of Boone’s Board of Energy Economics and Sustainability and is working to switch Boone to renewable energy. In his free time he plays quidditch and soccer, and he runs a podcast on the Syrian Civil War. He loves the outdoors, and any clear night can be found on some trail in the Grandfather Mountain system.

cory-hanesCory Hanes – Economic Diversification Assistant

Cory is a graduate student in the Environmental Policy and Policy Analysis Master of Arts program at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. He graduated in May 2016 with a B.S. in political science and Spanish from ASU. After moving to Boone, he developed a love for the outdoors through rock climbing and fly fishing. Cory has recent experience as a campaign organizer with the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group working on environmental and social justice issues. His professional interests include environmental economics, public policy, legislative affairs and research as well as renewable energy development.

kirk_davidoff_isaacIsaac Kirk-Davidoff – Central Appalachian Assistant

Isaac Kirk-Davidoff grew up in a suburb in Maryland called Columbia. His attempts to escape that suburb led him to long hikes throughout Appalachia, where he developed a respect for the space and landscape. He is excited to be working with an organization that fights for environmental and economic justice for the region. Isaac is currently working towards a B.A. in Anthropology from Yale University, where he studies communities’ connections to landscape and history and the changes in those connections as those landscapes are gentrified, mined and fertilized. In his spare time, he hikes, reads, hunts for mushrooms and listens to R.E.M. bootlegs.

espitia_jonathanJonathan Espitia – Stanback New Economy Assistant

Jonathan Espitia is a graduate student at Duke University, pursuing a Masters degree in environmental management at the Nicholas School. He received his master of arts in anthropology at UNC Chapel Hill. He received his bachelor’s in economics from Yale University and also holds a certificate in culinary arts. Jonathan is from New York and lived in New York City for several years before moving to North Carolina for graduate school. When Jonathan isn’t working or studying, he enjoys playing soccer, coding, and cooking at home. Jonathan joined the Appalachian Voices intern team to use his experience to help diversify economic opportunities for people in the Appalachian region.

lewis_lenaLena Lewis – Virginia Assistant

Born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Lena became enamored with the Appalachian Mountains through summer camps in the Hendersonville, N.C. area. After earning a BA in biology at Swarthmore College, she taught science and math in Peru. Lena moved to Charlottesville, VA in 2002 to teach high school biology and environmental science at Tandem Friends School. She is now earning her Master of Public Policy at the Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, with a focus on energy and environmental policy. This summer, she is working with Appalachian Voices on their campaigns to promote clean energy options in Virginia.

rooke_maxMax Rooke – Virginia Grassroots Organizing Assistant

Max is a sophomore at Virginia Tech, studying geography and public and urban affairs, with a minor in Appalachian studies. A native of North Georgia, she now lives in Virginia Beach but spends as much time in the mountains as possible. When she’s not working or studying, Max enjoys hiking, cooking, and playing music. Max joined the Appalachian Voices intern team to learn about the impacts of development on the natural world, and to help protect the mountains she loves. In the future, she hopes to pursue sustainable urban planning and focus on preserving natural spaces.

abercrombie_meredithMeredith Abercrombie – Editorial and Marketing Assistant

Meredith is a rising senior at Appalachian State University. She is pursuing a major in public relations with two minors in marketing and political science. Apart from going to class and studying, Meredith enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee with the school’s club team, hiking, and reading. Since beginning her education at Appalachian State University, she has become increasingly passionate about environmental issues. She hopes to eventually work for a nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental advocacy. Meredith believes that her internship with Appalachian Voices will give her great insight into the business of the nonprofit sector.

pressley_rachelRachel Pressley – Editorial Assistant

Born in the town of Belmont, N.C., Rachel is now a senior at Appalachian State University. She is majoring in sustainable development with a concentration in environmental studies, a focus area in journalism and a skills area in photography. With family in Cullowhee and Asheville, N.C, she has been traveling to western North Carolina her entire life. She is writing articles and choosing photographs for The Appalachian Voice this summer. Rachel is an avid hiker, photographer, and writer. This region has allowed for growth in her knowledge of the natural world. In the future, she hopes to become a photojournalist working for an environmental publication, covering the growth and importance of sustainable development.

crisp_sarah_copySarah Crisp – Energy Savings Research Assistant

Sarah Crisp is a rising senior at Appalachian State University, pursuing a degree in International and Comparative Political Science with a minor in Geography. She has lived in Morganton, North Carolina all her life and as a result loves the Appalachian region, as well as hiking and exploring the outdoors. Sarah is passionate about social and environmental issues, and she enjoys competing in collegiate level Model United Nations competitions. Sarah joined the Appalachian Voices team because of her love for the Appalachian region and her passion for solving tough problems.

bizjack_tyler Tyler Bizjack – Marketing & Outreach Assistant

My name is Tyler Bizjack and I am a rising senior at Appalachian State University. I am majoring in Advertising and double minoring in Sociology and Marketing. I am from Charlotte, North Carolina but Boone is my true home. I love Boone and the Appalachian Mountains. I have been interested in the conservation of the Appalachian Mountains ever since I took the class Appalachian History. I also have been interested in nonprofit organizations and activities. I have been the philanthropy chair for 2 years in my fraternity and plan on continuing this position my senior year. I am excited to start my internship and join the App Voices team. I hope to not only gain experience from this but to also meet new friends along the way.

kokpin_zachZach Kopkin – N.C. Program Assistant

Zach was born in Marietta, GA and has lived in North Carolina for 6 years. He earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Appalachian State in 2015 and is currently working towards a Master’s degree in Appalachian Studies and Sustainability at Appalachian State. He has previously worked in community organizing and advocacy at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History in Chapel Hill, NC where he edited a hyperlocal newspaper and organized a home repair coalition. At Appalachian Voices, Zach has joined the NC Organizing Team and is researching strategies to promote coal ash cleanup and recycling in NC.

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