Tom CormonsTom Cormons, J.D. — Executive Director

Tom was hired to open Appalachian Voices’ first Virginia office in 2007, and he took the reins as Executive Director in early 2013. The organization has expanded under his leadership to include new programs advancing energy and economic solutions for the region, new offices in Southwest Virginia and Knoxville, Tennessee, and new initiatives to address the harmful impacts of fossil fuels. Tom received his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in political and social thought from the University of Virginia. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar, and his experience prior to joining Appalachian Voices includes clerkships with Environmental Defense Fund, Piedmont Environmental Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Tom also worked with endangered migratory terns in South America for six seasons, overseeing aerial radio-tracking of the birds. He lives in Charlottesville with his wife, Heather, whom he met while working as a whitewater and climbing guide in southern West Virginia, and their children, Brooke, Kai, and Cassie.
email tom.cormons [at]

Matt WassonMatt Wasson, Ph.D. — Director of Programs

Matt has worked at Appalachian Voices since 2001 and has served in various capacities ranging from Executive Director to the editor of The Appalachian Voice. As Director of Programs, Matt provides the long-range vision for the direction of our program work. He received his B.S. in zoology from the University of Washington, and Ph.D. in ecology from Cornell University. Since his time doing research at Cornell on the impacts of acid rain on birds, Matt has worked on all aspects of the “coal cycle” — from mining, transportation and combustion of coal to the disposal of power plant waste. Matt designs and builds web-based databases with sophisticated search functions for use by professionals and citizens working on coal-related issues. Matt also oversees the award-winning online campaign to stop mountaintop removal coal mining, A nationally recognized authority on mountaintop removal coal mining and coal economics, Matt has testified before Congress, appears frequently on expert panels, and is a contributor to high-profile media outlets including Huffington Post, Grist, and Daily Kos.
matt [at]

Cat McCueCat McCue — Director of Communications

Cat brings more than two decades of experience in environmental communications and policy. After receiving her B.A. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and M.J. in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, she went on to become an award-winning environmental journalist in Virginia. She was also Senior Communications Manager at the Southern Environmental Law Center where she supervised media relations and communications campaigns at the national, state and local level. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and outlets throughout the South. She was a Scripps Fellow for Environmental Journalism and completed the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute in 2010. A Yankee transplant to Appalachia, Cat was smitten the moment she saw the Smoky Mountains, and is honored to be a part of the Appalachian Voices team protecting this magnificent region.
cat [at]

Kate RoothKate Rooth — Campaign Director

Originally from the small town of Cashiers in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, Kate has more than ten years experience campaigning on energy issues for national and regional environmental organizations. She double-majored in political science and environmental science at Lehigh University. She worked at Greenpeace, where she contributed to several coal, climate and clean energy campaigns, and at Rainforest Action Network, where she contributed to the group’s mountaintop removal campaign. In her role as Appalachian Voices’ Campaign Director, Kate’s deep-rooted experience in campaign strategy and execution helps ensure the success of each of our campaigns.
email kate [at]


Shay BoydShay Boyd — Operations Manager

Shay has a B.S. in psychology and a M.A. in industrial-organizational psychology and human resource management from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. After graduating, she could not bring herself to leave the High Country and has lived in the area for over 20 years. She worked for several local companies and operated her own business before joining Appalachian Voices in 2008. Shay is pictured at center.
email shay [at]

Maya VikniusMaya Viknius — Controller

Maya was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine, and spent her summers in a rural country village where the residents were mostly self-sustainable. She moved to the United States at the age of 21, living in the Midwest and on the West Coast before settling in the mountains of North Carolina in 2011. She has been involved in all levels of accounting over the past 20 years, earning a minor in economics from Kiev’s University of Economics, a B.S. in business administration/accounting from Southern Oregon University and completing the CPA examination in 2013. Maya feels strongly about environmental sustainability and social justice, and feels fortunate to intimately know and draw from two very different cultures. She currently lives with her husband Brian and two sons, Nicholas and Sauren, near the beautiful Watauga River in Sugar Grove, N.C.
email maya [at]

Leigh KirchnerLeigh Kirchner — Development Coordinator

Leigh grew up in beautiful Rockbridge County in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Her roots there go back many generations to a Monacan Indian from Irish Creek on one side and the Walker family who settled Walker’s Creek on the other. A first-generation college student, Leigh earned a B.A. in English at Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.A. in Appalachian studies at Appalachian State University. While in graduate school, her affection for the Appalachian mountains continued to grow, and she developed an interest in protecting the region from exploitation. Leigh worked at Washington and Lee University and the University of Virginia prior to joining Appalachian Voices in 2015. She now lives just over the mountain from Rockbridge in western Albemarle County with her husband, two dogs and two cats.
email leigh [at]

Lauren EssickLauren Essick — Operations and Outreach Associate
Distribution Manager, The Appalachian Voice

Originally from Asheboro, N.C., Lauren moved to western N.C. in 2006 to attend the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Her love of Watauga County drew her to Boone where she graduated from Appalachian State University with a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies, concentrating on place-based efforts to climate change resilience and a clean energy future. Growing up in Asheboro, Lauren worked as an educator at the North Carolina Zoological Park and became interested in ecology and environmental conservation. While in Boone, she has followed her passion to help promote quality of life for communities in various ways, including previously working in an operations capacity for a local planning and design firm, and distributing copies of The Appalachian Voice.
email lauren [at]


Rory McIlmoilRory McIlmoil — Energy Policy Director

Raised all across the Southeast, Rory graduated with a B.S. in earth and environmental science from Furman University and spent the next few years traveling in Europe and South America, part of that time working as a volunteer in the Andes of Ecuador. Following a stint as a research intern with Appalachian Voices in 2007, Rory went on to earn his master’s degree in global environmental politics from American University. He became Campaign Coordinator for the Coal River Wind campaign, serving under the late Appalachian hero, Judy Bonds. In 2009, Rory joined Downstream Strategies, a West Virginia-based environmental consulting company, where he managed the Energy Program and conducted research and policy analysis related to coal, renewable energy and energy efficiency with a particular focus on Appalachia. Now living in Deep Gap, NC, Rory joined the Appalachian Voices team to lead the Energy Savings for Appalachia program.
rory [at]

Amy KellyAmy Kelly — Tennessee Energy Savings Outreach Coordinator

With familial ties in Tennessee since the 18th century and a renowned moonshiner as her great-grandfather, Amy’s roots in Appalachia run deep. She believes that the people of Appalachia can become leaders in energy innovation by harnessing their historic self-reliance and ingenuity. Spending five years as a community organizer with Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment in Tennessee, and recently in pursuit of community economic development models that raise people’s voices to direct their own future, Amy has dedicated her career to aiding the region’s people in discovering their own power. She received a B.A. in sociology from Maryville College and is completing an M.S. degree in community development from an award-winning, multi-state, human science program, Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. Amy also enjoys exploring the world with her beloved daughter and husband.
email amy.kelly [at]

Amber Moodie-DyerAmber Moodie-Dyer — North Carolina Energy Savings Outreach Coordinator

Amber grew up in rural Missouri in a community of artists and environmental advocates who helped shape her career and life in social work and community organizing. She received her masters in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Amber has worked as a community organizer in Missouri and Minnesota on neighborhood vitality, substance abuse prevention and affordable childcare, and was as an assistant professor at Ohio State University where she taught poverty, social justice and community practice. She moved to North Carolina in 2013 with her Appalachian-born husband and worked with the North Carolina Justice Center on tax policy before joining Appalachian Voices. Although her roots are in the Midwest, Amber fell in love with the mountains of North Carolina, and loves the ample opportunities the Blue Ridge provides for hiking, fishing, camping and general frolicking.
amber [at]

Lou MurreyLou Murrey — Tennessee Outreach Associate– OSMRE/VISTA

Raised in the mountains of Northwestern North Carolina, Lou graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville where she studied documentary photography and its history and legacy in Appalachia. After college Lou returned home to Boone where she partnered with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture to collect stories and photographs of farmers in Northwestern North Carolina for The Blue Ridge Farm Book, a project that sparked a deep interest in the ways storytelling can be used to build community and expand the narrative of a place to make space for more voices. Currently she serves on the steering committee for the STAY Project, a regional network of young people working together to create, advocate for and participate in safe, sustainable, engaging and inclusive communities throughout Appalachia and beyond. A documentary photographer, mountain advocate, and archivist, Lou is excited to spend a year as a OSMRE/VISTA member of Appalachian Voices’ energy savings team learning from and engaging in the communities in East Tennessee.
email lou [at]

Eliza LaubachEliza Laubach — Energy Savings Community Outreach Associate

Eliza Laubach hails from the Midwest after spending her childhood in Washington state, and her heart has now been captured by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her early years in the lush, mountainous Pacific Northwest created a foundation for environmental stewardship, an unrelenting curiosity in the natural world, and a deep honor for water bodies. From working on farms learning permaculture and herbalism to writing for a nature magazine and a newspaper, her passions are diversely channeled. At University of Missouri-Columbia, she earned a bachelor of journalism degree, with an environmental studies certificate and a German minor. Eliza joined Appalachian Voices as an AmeriCorps outreach and communications associate for the 2014-2015 year, where she focused on communicating to communities in North Carolina about energy efficiency and climate change empowerment. She continues that resiliency work in Madison County, North Carolina as a Community Outreach Associate with the Energy Savings for Appalachia campaign.
email eliza [at]

Thom KayThom Kay – Legislative Associate

Thom is from Spartanburg, where he graduated from Wofford College with a B.A. in philosophy. He worked at Greenpeace on chemical security and climate change legislation, and later at the League of Conservation Voters on coal ash disposal and mountaintop removal mining. Formerly in our D.C. office and now located in Raleigh, N.C., Thom continues to work at the federal level, both in Congress and the administration, to end the destruction of Appalachia’s mountains and streams. He also works closely with our North Carolina and Energy Savings teams on issues related to coal ash and clean energy.
email thom.kay [at]

Amy AdamsAmy Adams — North Carolina Campaign Coordinator

Raised on the Pamlico River in Washington, N.C., Amy has spent her career in public service for environmental protection. She earned a B.S. in biology and M.A. in environmental science education at East Carolina University, and spent three summers researching sharks in the Bahamas. She served as an outreach specialist for the Center of Applied Aquatic Ecology before joining the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2004. Over the next decade, Amy rose steadily in the ranks to become the regional office supervisor for DENR’s Washington region encompassing the coastal plains of North Carolina. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Tony and their two children, hiking, boating, camping and playing music together. Amy brings a wealth of expertise in clean water protection to the helm of Appalachian Voices’ North Carolina program.
amy [at]

Hannah WiegardHannah Wiegard — Virginia Campaign Coordinator

A lifelong Virginian, Hannah received her B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary, where she also minored in environmental science and policy. Hannah’s first experience with environmental advocacy came when she was a student and did community outreach to help fight the massive proposed coal-fired power plant in Surry County, Va. In 2010, she contributed to the national campaign for clean energy reform as a Repower America organizer, and later worked with Chesapeake Climate Action Network to promote offshore wind power, fight offshore gas and oil drilling, and raise awareness about sea level rise and flooding in eastern Virginia. Outside of organizing, Hannah loves board games, watching both good and very bad movies, and traveling abroad when she gets the chance.
hannah [at]

Adam WellsAdam Wells — Economic Diversification Campaign Coordinator

Adam first walked through the doors of Appalachian Voices as a volunteer while an undergraduate at Appalachian State University. After earning his B.A., he moved to Wise County, Va., to live on the land his family has inhabited for five generations. As Outreach Coordinator for Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, and later as a field organizer for the Sierra Club, Adam dug deep into the movement to end mountaintop removal coal mining in Southwest Virginia. He worked for a time as a Wilderness Therapy Field Guide, and in 2013 joined the Upper Tennessee River Roundtable, focusing on the Guest River in Wise County. Adam returned to Appalachian Voices in 2015 to build our Economic Development campaign in Southwest Virginia. Adam is committed to bringing clean energy and other economic diversification opportunities to the Virginia coalfields. He still lives on his family farm in Wise County with his wife and their dog, where they enjoy spending time in the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia, especially on rivers.
adam [at]

Erin SavageErin Savage — Central Appalachian Campaign Coordinator

Originally from Pullman, Erin earned a B.S. in biology from the University of Washington, where she also minored in philosophy. After college, she traveled through South America and Africa to research strategies in protected-area management. She completed an M.E.Sc. at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she researched the ecological and social aspects of mountain lion depredation of livestock. She joined Appalachian Voices in 2011 as part of our Appalachian Water Watch program, and focuses on Clean Water Act enforcement and citizen water monitoring in coal-impacted communities throughout Central Appalachia.
email erin [at]

Tarence RayTarence Ray — Central Appalachian Field Coordinator

Tarence was born in Lubbock, Texas, and was raised in the rural oilfields of southeastern New Mexico. He received a B.A. in history from the University of Texas at Austin. Tarence’s interest in the socio-economic parallels between his home region and the coalfields of central Appalachia brought him to eastern Kentucky in 2012. Since then, he has served two terms as an Americorps VISTA in Letcher County, Ky., focusing on water quality, economic development, mine safety and environmental justice. Tarence is also a programmer and occasional radio producer at Appalshop’s WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, Ky.
email tarence [at]

Willie DodsonWillie Dodson — Central Appalachian Field Coordinator

Willie grew up in the piedmont and the mountains of Virginia. He graduated from Berea College with a degree in Appalachian studies. Since 2004, Willie has been organizing for environmental and social justice in Appalachia with such groups as the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, the Southern Energy Network and the Mission and Service Board of Union Church in Berea, Ky. He lives in Wise County, Virginia, and is an old-time and not-so-old-time musician, a forager of wild foods and medicines, and a sucker for any grey-haired person who wants to tell a story. He genuinely likes people, even ones he disagrees with about everything.
email willie [at]

Sarah KelloggSarah Kellogg — North Carolina Outreach Coordinator

Sarah is a sunny North Carolinian whose heart lies somewhere between the streams of the Blue Ridge mountains and the dunes of the Outer Banks. She has a B.A. in English from UNC Chapel Hill, where she also minored in anthropological environmental studies and art history. She’s a violist, ceramicist, poet, and passionate hiker. She spent a year working for AmeriCorps Project POWER as an environmental educator, tutor, and classroom assistant and spent a year as an AmeriCorps member with App Voices. She has always combined her love of education and the environment, interning with an environmentally focused independent school in college and volunteering as an environmental educator in Asheville, N.C. Sarah is excited to explore and expand her skills as the North Carolina field organizer with Appalachian Voices.
emailsarah [at]

Nick WoodNick Wood — North Carolina Field Organizer

Nick’s family is from Asheville, but he grew up in eastern Washington next to Hanford, the country’s most contaminated nuclear facility, where his father worked in the clean up effort. He moved home to the Tar Heel state to attend the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he received his B.A. in communications and J.D. from UNC School of Law. He is a licensed attorney in N.C. and was an organizer with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, where he became the national director of the successful Mt. Olive Pickle boycott. Nick went on to work for a number of other labor unions before getting involved in the environmental justice movement in 2013 when he was hired by NC WARN. Since then, Nick has worked on coal ash, green jobs, fracking and climate justice. Based in Durham, he enjoys hiking, traveling around North Carolina, comedy and Fantasy Football.
emailnick [at]

Ridge GrahamRidge Graham — AmeriCorps Outreach Associate

Ridge grew up in Rock Hill, S.C. and attended Appalachian State University, where he received a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology with a minor in statistics. There he found a niche as an undergraduate teaching-assistant and researcher, during which time he helped students make documentaries and educated the public about water quality. With deep roots in the Appalachian region, he enjoys hiking, biking, and playing games and music with his friends. Ridge is excited to be working as an AmeriCorps member with Appalachian Voices and looks forward to engaging the communities of western North Carolina.
emailridge [at]


Jamie GoodmanJamie Goodman — Senior Communications Coordinator
Editor, The Appalachian Voice

A native of western North Carolina with Appalachian roots stemming back to the early 1700s, Jamie holds a B.A. in English literature and a minor in technical photography from Appalachian State University, and has nearly 20 years of experience in print and online media. A self-taught graphic and web designer, she helped earn two National Newspaper Association awards with, co-founded High Country Press newspaper and Shout! magazine, and served as University webmaster and co-chair of the Web Advisory Council at Appalachian State University. Jamie found her home in environmental work at Appalachian Voices in 2008, filling the roll as editor for The Appalachian Voice in addition to working on web and print communications for the organization. She also serves as secretary on the Downtown Boone Development Association Board of Directors. An accomplished photographer, Jamie has a serious soft spot for all creatures great and small, and is passionate about using her skills to help save the mountains she loves.
email jamie [at]

Brian Sewell — Program and Development Communications Coordinator

A North Carolina native, Brian received his B.A. in communications from the College of Charleston. After working as a freelance writer for weekly publications and national magazines in Charleston, he served two years with AmeriCorps Project Conserve at the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and Appalachian Voices. After a year as the managing editor of The Appalachian Voice, Brian joined our staff full-time in 2012. He composes fundraising materials, serves as a contributing editor to The Voice, and manages our Front Porch blog, activist outreach and social media platforms. He enjoys music, art and journalism — especially reading and writing stories about the relationship between energy and the environment, politics and media criticism.
email brian [at]

Molly MooreMolly Moore — Communications Coordinator
Managing Editor, The Appalachian Voice

Molly is from the Midwest, where she earned journalism and religious studies degrees from the University of Missouri and wrote for several newspapers and magazines. She entered nonprofit communications by co-hosting a mid-Missouri community radio program that explored the connections between health, environment and agriculture, and then provided public relations support at Canyonlands Field Institute in Moab, Utah. Molly served two years with AmeriCorps Project Conserve at Appalachian Voices, assisting with print and online communications, before joining the staff as editorial communications coordinator.
email molly [at]

Lee PayneElizabeth “Lee” Payne, Ph.D — AmeriCorps Communications Associate
Associate Editor, The Appalachian Voice

A native of Boone, N.C., Lee studied archaeology and ancient history, earning first a B.A. from Brown University and then an M.A. from Boston University. She then went on to receive a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Yale University, where she specialized in Assyriology, the study of the languages and cultures of ancient Mesopotamia. After graduation, she worked for six years as the conservator for the Yale Babylonian Collection. Throughout her time in southern New England, Lee’s love for the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian region only grew. She is delighted to return home for a year of service for AmeriCorps Project Conserve, and she looks forward to working with the wonderful team that produces The Appalachian Voice. In her free time, Lee will explore the endless possibilities for hiking, running and climbing that the mountain trails and rocky outcrops of the region provide.
email lee.payne [at]

Jimmy DavidsonJimmy Davidson — Graphics and Digital Communications Coordinator

Jimmy has over 25 years of experience in graphic design, photography, illustration and web design. Hailing from the Atlanta area, Jimmy has lived in Michigan, Texas, Montana, Pennsylvania and New Zealand before finally settling in the mountains of North Carolina. He earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Georgia and has created infographics, maps and illustrations involving environmental legal issues for his clients. He spends a good bit of his free time playing music and taking care of a large garden, a 125-year-old farmhouse, and various goats, sheep and chickens. He maintains an interest in native plants and their preservation and likes to hike, camp and bike with his wife and daughter.
email jimmy [at]


Jeff Deal — IT Specialist

Jeff DealJeff holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and applied mathematics and has completed graduate courses in computer science and appropriate technology. During his 16-year information technology career in non-profits, academia and at one Fortune 50 company, Jeff has worked as a computer programmer (C/C++, JAVA, PHP, UNIX shell scripting), relational database administrator (Sybase, Oracle, MySQL, and DB2), and UNIX Systems Engineer (AIX, Solaris, and Linux). His renewable energy interests include community renewable energy development, distributed solar electric and thermal design, renewable energy metering and producer-consumer feedback systems, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation – most especially solar fueled electric vehicles.
email jeff [at]

Board of Directors — Officers

Kim GilliamKim Gilliam, Chair — James “Kim” Gilliam has been involved in the creation and direction of dynamic fundraising programs for over 25 years. Since 2003, Kim has managed a full-time consulting practice, working with boards and staffs across the U.S. and Canada in developing fundraising plans and major gift and capital campaigns. He is a senior fundraising associate for the Santa Fe-based Training Resources for the Environmental Community, which serves grantees working throughout the Rocky Mountains. Kim is also is a lead fundraising consultant for San Francisco’s RoadMap, a non-profit group supporting organizations working on root causes of poverty and social injustice in the U.S. Kim worked for several years as a VISTA volunteer in North Dakota after graduating from the University of North Carolina. From 1988 to 2002, he was the chief development officer for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville, Va., where he currently resides.

Dot GriffithDot Griffith, Vice-Chair — Dot Griffith earned her BFA in photography from the University of Georgia and is the founder of the Banner Elk Advocates for Responsible Expansion (BEARE). She is the mother of two and loves to cycle, hike, camp, cook, dance, and now spread awareness about mountaintop removal coal mining.

Kathy SelvageKathy Selvage, Treasurer — Kathy is a Wise County, Va., resident and daughter of a coal miner who has brought local, regional and national exposure to the destruction that mountaintop removal coal mining is wreaking on her native land and its people. Kathy was instrumental in the fight against Dominion’s Wise County $1.8 billion coal-fired plant and the mile long petition delivered to Virginia’s top government officials. She is the recipient of the St. Francis Ecological Award of the Ecological Network of Sowers of Justice, and has appeared in the nationally distributed Evans/Gellar documentary “Coal Country” to focus the nation on the struggle of mountaintop removal as well as the “Electricity Fairy”, an Appalshop/Tom Hansell film that follows the long controversy over the Wise county coal-fired plant in light of national energy policy. She participates in numerous community groups and organizations to promote the public and a sustainable future for Appalachia.

Read Kathy’s op-ed published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2014: From Southwest Virginia, a path for less pollution

Tracey WrightTracey Wright, Secretary — Tracey is a native of Dickson, Tenn., who currently calls Cleveland, Tenn., home. She spent twelve years in Boone, N.C., where she became more interested in sustainability efforts. As an educator, Wright strives to assist college students in developing into engaged citizens who care about their community and their environment. Tracey, a wife and mother of two daughters, describes herself as an average citizen who is seeking meaningful ways to have a positive impact on our environment. She also seeks better ways to help motivate others to do the same. Wright graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in science in mathematics and master’s degree in educational leadership.

Board Members-At-Large

Clara BinghamClara Bingham — Clara is an award winning journalist, author and former Newsweek White House correspondent. She co-wrote Class Action: The Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law (Doubleday 2002), which won the Los Angeles Times book of the year and the AAUW Speaking out for Justice Award, and was adapted into the 2005 Oscar-nominated film, “North Country,” starring Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand. Bingham is also the author of Women on the Hill: Challenging the Culture of Congress, and has written for many publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Talk, The Washington Monthly, and United Press International. A Kentucky native, Clara first witnessed the destructive effects of mountaintop removal coal mining while reporting on a story in West Virginia. This experience ultimately led her to produce “The Last Mountain” documentary, a finalist in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Pat HolmesPat Holmes — Pat Holmes, MD, DVM, has been a diagnostic and interventional radiologist in Boone, N.C., since 1999. He attended the University of Tennessee Knoxville (DVM, 1983), East Tennessee State University (MD, 1994) and Wake Forest University/North Carolina Baptist Hospital (residency and fellowship, 1998 and 1999). He has had a lifetime interest in environmental issues and was active in opposing Champion Paper Products’ pollution of the Pigeon River while residing in Newport, Tenn., in the 1980’s. He and his wife Jill live in Valle Crucis, N.C.

Rick PhelpsRick Phelps — Rick is a retired consulting environmental chemist experienced in air and water quality analysis, combustion source assessments, and industrial waste treatment technologies. He is a founder of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in Asheville, N.C., focusing on endangered land and watershed protection. Rick has also served on several Environmental Protection Agency advisory and regulatory development groups, and also on numerous environmental and outdoor recreation organizations. A resident of Tennessee, Rick received a degree in chemistry and has over 40 years of experience in environmental chemistry.

Pallavi PodapatiPallavi Podapati — Pallavi was raised in Hazard, Ky., by Indian immigrants who instilled in her a love of history and of place. She left Kentucky in 2009 to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where she researched American policies developed to protect coal miners from pneumoconiosis (black lung), mining accidents, and the effectiveness of these policies. At UPenn she was a member of the Civic Scholars program and very active at the Penn Women’s Center and Civic House. She earned a degree in health and societies in 2013, and is currently in Wales completing a Master of History degree at Swansea University. Her thesis will be an analysis of policies developed to protect coal miners in the South Wales coalfields post 1948. Pallavi’s long-term goal is to enroll in a doctoral program where her research focus will be on occupational health and safety in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Bunk SpannBunk Spann — Milton G. “Bunk” Spann is the founder of the National Center for Developmental Education at Appalachian State University. As a former member of the Boone, N.C., Town Council, Bunk was instrumental in establishing the Boone Water Committee and for several years chaired the town’s Water Conservation Committee that developed several water conservation programs. Following his tenure on the Town Council, Bunk was appointed to the Planning Commission and shortly thereafter was elected chair. During his 36 years in Boone, Bunk led the effort to establish the town as a “Smart Growth” community. He and his wife Nancy now live in Asheville, N.C., at the Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community where he is working to help make Deerfield and Asheville an even more environmentally friendly and sustainable community.

lauren_waterworthLauren Waterworth — A native of Boone, N.C., Lauren has a Master of Science in geology from Texas A&M and earned her J.D. with a certificate in environmental law from Tulane University Law School. In 2007, she returned to Boone to practice law and established Waterworth Law Office in 2009. In January 2011, Lauren joined the faculty of Appalachian State University’s Department of Geology where she teaches introductory geology labs and environmental regulation and enforcement. Lauren is a member of the legal team representing Appalachian Voices and its partner organizations in Clean Water Act litigation in Kentucky. When not teaching or hassling polluters, she enjoys walking her dogs with her wonderful husband, Alex, gardening, painting and baking pies.

Tom CormonsTom Cormons, Ex Officio — Tom joined Appalachian Voices in 2007 to open our Virginia office. He became our deputy director in 2010 to help develop Appalachian Voices’ programmatic strategy and supervise our program teams,and stepped into the role of executive director in 2013. Tom received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar. His previous experience includes working as a law clerk with the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Environmental Defense. He also oversaw radio-tracking of endangered and threatened migratory terns in South America for six seasons.

Advisory Councils

Chair’s Advisory Council

Jonathan AllenJonathan C. Allen, CPA CFP, CLU — Jonathan is a financial advisor in Boone, N.C. He began his career at Ernst & Young, LLP in Manhattan where he worked as a tax consultant. He currently holds three professional certifications – Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner®, and Chartered Life Underwriter. In addition to working at Allen Wealth Management, Jonathan has taught financial planning at Appalachian State University and accounting at Wake Forest University. An avid outdoorsman, Jonathan enjoys hiking, golf, and fly-fishing the local trout streams. He is married to Stephanie and the couple resides in Boone with their dog, Deacon.

jessica barba brownJessica Barba Brown — Jessica is currently the Vice President for Program Development at Faith in Public Life, a strategy center advancing faith in the public square. She spent three years serving as communications director and senior aide for former Rep. Tom Perriello, assisting in his rise from long-shot congressional hopeful to one of the highest-profile and widely watched political stories in 2010. Prior to her political career, Jessica worked in the nonprofit sector as communications director for City Year New York and communications and marketing manager for CancerCare. During the 2004 elections, she was one of the founding board members of the Catholic Voting Project, which went on to become Catholics United. A native of the Washington, D.C., region, Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in gender and sexuality studies from New York University.

Alfred GloverAlfred Glover — A native of Charlotte, N.C., community leader and businessman Alfred Glover has served as president and owner of Boone Ford Lincoln Mercury Dealership in Boone, N.C. since 2003. Following four hears in the U.S. Navy, Alfred obtained a bachelor’s degree in automotive dealership management from Michigan’s Northwood University and completed special training through Ford Motor Company’s Dealer Development Program. Alfred lives in Ashe County, N.C., with his wife and two children.

Randy Hayes — Rainforest Action Network founder Randy Hayes has been described in the Wall Street Journal as an “environmental pit bull.” He currently serves as executive director for Foundation Earth, an organization focused on bringing an earth-centered economy into reality through a major rethinking of society implemented via outreach campaigns. As a former filmmaker, he is a veteran of many high-visibility corporate accountability campaigns and has advocated for the rights of indigenous peoples. He has served as president of San Francisco’s Commission on the Environment, and director of sustainability in the office of former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. As a wilderness lover, Hayes has explored the High Sierras, the Canadian Rockies and the rainforests of the Amazon, Central America, Congo, Southeast Asia and Boreno.

Silas HouseSilas House — Silas is an award-winning playwright, journalist and environmental activist. He serves as the NEH Chair in Appalachian studies at Berea College and on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in creative writing program. Nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and named the 2010 Appalachian Writer of the Year by Shepherd University, Silas’ work has appeared in dozens of publications including The New York Times, Oxford American, The Louisville Review, and “New Stories from the South.” His national bestsellers include “Clay’s Quilt,” “A Parchment of Leaves,” “The Coal Tattoo,” and “Eli the Good.” Silas has been involved in the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining since 2005, and in 2009 released “Something’s Rising,” a series of Appalachian activist profiles co-produced with Jason Howard. Silas is a native of Kentucky and currently calls Berea home.

Listen to Silas talk about his coming up in coal country: Appalachian Writer Silas House on the Double-edged Sword of Coal, W.Va. Public Broadcasting, April 2015

Christina HoweChristina Howe — Christina resides in Valle Crucis where the Watauga River forms the western boundary of her property. She came to Boone after living and working in Miami, Fla., where, with her late husband, she founded two real estate companies that managed, built and sold offices and airport hangers, including the 350,000 sq.ft. Orlando-Sanford International Airport. Christina is a commercially rated single and multi-engine pilot, a sailor and an avid tennis player, and enjoys golf. She served as the president of the High Country Conservancy for four years and fills the role of president for Shull’s Farm. She is currently a partner and the assistant director of Boone Healing Arts Center, a holistic health facility with 14 alternative medicine practitioners. Christina is a passionate environmentalist whose favorite color has always been green.

Van JonesVan JonesVan Jones is a globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean-energy economy. He co-founded three successful non-profit organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change and Green For All, and is the best-selling author of the definitive book on green jobs: The Green-Collar Economy. He served as the green jobs advisor in the Obama White House in 2009. Van is currently a senior fellow at the Center For American Progress. Additionally, he is a senior policy advisor at Green For All. Van also holds a joint appointment at Princeton University as a distinguished visiting fellow in both the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Landra Lewis — A native of eastern Kentucky, Landra has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Kentucky and a certificate in meditation from Duke University. She is involved in a variety of professional associations and environmental organizations. She is dedicated to ending mountaintop removal coal mining and bringing about positive change in her home state of Kentucky.

haskell murrayJ. Haskell Murray, J.D. — Haskell was raised on the rural, Georgia-side of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tenn., and has enjoyed the outdoors his entire life. At Rhodes College, he majored in business administration, concentrating in international business and finance, while also competing as a member of the varsity football and club rugby teams. While at Georgia State University College of Law, Haskell was elected to the editorial board of the school’s main law review, graduated second in his class, and received high honors for his pro bono work. Haskell served as a judicial clerk in Wilmington, Del., and practiced corporate law at two global law firms: King & Spalding LLP (Atlanta) and Weil, Gotshal, & Manges LLP (New York City). Currently, he teaches corporate law and alternative dispute resolution courses as a tenure-track professor at Belmont University’s business school in Nashville, Tenn. His research is focused on corporate governance and social enterprise related legal issues, including business practices aimed at preserving the environment.

Brenda HugginsBrenda Sigmon — Brenda is a retired school teacher and former member of the North Carolina Textbook Commission. She helped co-found the Catawba County Litter Task Force in Newton, N.C, and currently teaches part-time at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C. She is a long-standing volunteer for Appalachian Voices, including delivering The Appalachian Voice newspaper to two counties in western North Carolina. Brenda is an avid hiker and an active member of Catawba Valley Outing Club, and enjoys helping to maintain hiking trails in the area.


Savannah_clemmonsSavannah Clemmons – Editorial Assistant

A senior at Appalachian State University, Savannah is pursuing a degree in professional writing with minors in communication and geology. Growing up in suburban Chicago, Savannah was drawn to the peaceful, rolling landscape of the Appalachian Mountains while visiting her grandparents in North Carolina. After moving to central N.C., she attended Appalachian State, where her love for the environment and communication flourished. In addition to writing, Savannah enjoys doing yoga, playing cello, hiking, and pretending that she is good at rock climbing. Through a career in journalism, she hopes to communicate the joys of living a sustainable lifestyle to a wide audience. Savannah is excited to advocate for the land that is so dear to her own heart as an editorial intern at The Appalachian Voice.

Halie CunninghamHalie Cunningham – Energy Savings Outreach Assistant

Born and raised in North Carolina, Halie is from the Sandhills region of the Coastal Plain, but after studying sustainable development at Appalachian State University for her undergraduate degree, the High Country has stolen her heart and won’t let go. In addition to her B.S. in sustainable development, Halie has also earned a double minor in Spanish and geology and is a FAA licensed private pilot. In the future, Halie hopes to pursue a career in environmental education, as well as earn her master’s degree in climate change and society from North Carolina State University. Having personal ties to areas affected by fracking and coal mining, Halie has known since she came to Boone that she wanted to make a difference alongside Appalachian Voices, so she is very excited to accept the Energy Savings internship for summer and fall of 2016! When not working with the Appalachian Voices Energy Savings team, Halie spends her time hiking with her dog, skiing, doing yoga and working at a local alpaca farm.

Madeleine MurphyMadeleine Murphy – Virginia Grassroots Organizing Assistant

Madeleine is a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University, working towards degrees in French and political science with a concentration in human security. She grew up outside of Blacksburg, Va. and, although she loves to travel, the mountains will always be her home. In her free time, Madeleine enjoys hiking, running, going to see live music and playing guitar. She decided to pursue an internship with Appalachian Voices as a way of combining her passions for community organizing and environmental justice and to do her part to secure a safe and sustainable future for Appalachia.

Hannah PetersenHannah Petersen – North Carolina Outreach Assistant

Hannah is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, pursuing a degree in journalism and anthropology with a minor in environmental studies. She grew up in North Carolina and loves exploring towns and cities throughout the state in search for the best cup of coffee. In her free time she loves hiking, eating and chatting about coal ash. Her interest in environmental justice and conservation led her to move back to her home town and work with Appalachian Voices. After graduation Hannah plans to attend law school in order to protect and defend our environment through legal actions.

Sam ScatesSam Scates – Virginia Grassroots Organizing Assistant

Sam is from Richmond, Va., and is currently a rising fourth year at Virginia Tech. There, he studies environmental policy and planning. Since childhood, he has always felt a deep connection to the natural world. While revisiting his favorite trout stream in British Columbia, he experienced, first hand, the negative impacts of mountain top removal coal mining. This was a pivotal moment that shaped Sam into the passionate environmental activist he is today. Soon after this experience, Sam interned as a field assistant with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. In summer 2015, Sam campaigned in Richmond, working to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that allowed Big Industry to pollute Virginia waterways. While living in Blacksburg, Va., Sam has become deeply rooted in the heart of Appalachia. Currently he is primarily focused on fighting against fossil fuel centric-practices like the construction of natural gas pipelines and mountain top removal coal mining. Sam hopes to through-hike the Appalachian Trail after graduating, and enjoys playing the guitar, seeing live music and camping during his free time.

Adam SheffieldAdam Sheffield – Video and Outreach Assistant

Adam is a graduate student at Appalachian State University, majoring in Appalachian studies, with a concentration in sustainability. His research focuses on watershed management with regard to community development and land use. Adam currently holds a position as the Graduate Assistant to the University Documentary Film Services, as well as a Teaching Assistant for the Center for Appalachian Studies. Adam is actively involved with multiple nonprofit organizations in the Boone area, and is currently serving on the planning committee for Boone CycloVia. His outdoor passions include cross-country and downhill mountain biking, bouldering, snowboarding and paddle sports.

Josie VarelaJosie Varela – Energy Savings Outreach Assistant

Josie spent the majority of her childhood in Naples, Fla. and Miami, Fla., while her young adulthood was spent in Sparta, N.C. As a teenager growing up in a small town like Sparta, Josie spent most of her time outside. She may have been born in the city but her heart has always been in the mountains. In May 2015, Josie graduated with a B.S. in sustainable development concentrating in environmental studies, double minoring in art and biology. With the goals she seeks for a sustainable future in mind, Josie is currently a graduate student studying political science with a concentration in environmental policy. Josie plans to focus her master’s degree around human rights and environmental justice while addressing issues of systematic oppression (i.e at the policy and lawmaking levels) and environmental racism (i.e the Flint, Mich. case). While working on her master’s degree, Josie is also focusing her research on alternative economies and new systems of ethics in pursuit of a sustainable community. By interning with Appalachian Voices, Josie feels that she has been given the opportunity to put her skills to the test, outreach for energy efficiency and be a part of the crucial movement towards environmental and social justice.

Sophia WimberleySophia Wimberley – NPIP Z. Smith Reynolds Environmental Justice Assistant

Sophie is a senior at Appalachian State University, studying sustainable development with a concentration in environmental studies. She is from Pinehurst, N.C. and moved to Boone as a transfer student in 2015. Sophie enjoys reading, sandwiches, traveling, goats and volunteering. Her passion for sustainability, as well as her love of the outdoors, led her to the Appalachian region. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school to further her studies in environmental issues. Sophie is excited to work with Appalachian Voices where she can pursue her interest in community organizing and environmental justice.

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