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, Knoxville, Tenn., and Durham, N.C., and new initiatives to address the harmful impacts of fossil fuels. In February 2021, Tom was appointed by President Biden to serve on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
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, Va., 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.
tom.cormons [at] appvoices.org
Originally from the small town of Cashiers in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Kate has more than fourteen years of experience campaigning on energy issues at the national and regional level. Kate joined Appalachian Voices in 2010 and became Deputy Executive Director in 2017. Prior to Appalachian Voices, Kate worked in Washington, D.C. with Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network.
kate [at] appvoices.org
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, iLoveMountains.org. 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] appvoices.org
Leigh joined Appalachian Voices in 2022 to serve as Director of Strategic Advancement, strengthening relationships with the institutional donors who help us to pursue our vision, after more than 10 years working in advancement and communications — most immediately in Charlottesville as director of development for one of UVA’s support foundations. He lived in Washington, D.C., for more than a decade before that, where he secured resources for the arts, capital projects, environmental sustainability, and anti-racism initiatives at Washington National Cathedral and George Mason University.
Raised on a former tobacco farm in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Leigh received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. He serves on the governing board of The Daily Poetry Association and lives with his wife, Carrie, and two children, Damien and Raiya, in a heavily wooded section of eastern Albemarle County.
harrison [at] appvoices.org
Growing up across the U.S, South Korea and Japan, Katie did not find home until she set foot on Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg and became completely enamored with the mountains of Southwest Virginia. After graduation, Katie worked in public affairs and education with Planned Parenthood in Roanoke and the New River Valley. With a passion for addressing the social determinants of health, she moved to work in HIV research at a large LGBTQ community health center in Boston, MA. Katie is thrilled to be back south with her husband, daughter, and cat (Asparagus) and to work as a steward for the place she loves most. On any given day, you can find her trying to keep her houseplants alive, cheering for the Hokies, and spending time with her family.
katie [at] appvoices.org
Adam is a Virginia transplant with roots in Northwest Ohio. Prior to joining the Advancement Team at Appalachian Voices, Adam held various positions across the nonprofit sector. Most recently, Adam provided fundraising leadership as Associate Director of Development for Hospice of the Piedmont, the second-largest not-for-profit hospice care provider in Virginia. Adam is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he met his wife Caroline. Adam and Caroline live in Charlottesville, and love getting outside to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding them.
wagner [at] appvoices.org
Originally from Charleston, SC, Angie has lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains for over 30 years as a reformed flat-lander in beautiful Boone, NC. Angie received her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and later earned her M.S. in Accounting at Appalachian State University. Her passions for local, sustainable agriculture and saving wild places are a natural fit for App Voices, and she looks forward to making a positive impact with her financial skills. Her interests include gardening, live music, scuba diving, and getting walked by her dog, Willy.
angie [at] appvoices.org
Meredith “Mayzie” grew up in the intentional community known as The Farm outside Nashville, Tenn, a community that works to help insure that all people have access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition and “right” livelihood. The philosophy from The Farm has been at the core of her life’s work ever since. Meredith received a nursing certificate from Caldwell Community College and is also a certified community herbalist. She co-owned an eco-friendly fair trade store in Boone, N.C. More recently, she worked with the non-profit, Go Conscious Earth, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to document and facilitate the installation of seventeen clean water wells that now serve 34,000 people. Meredith lives on a portion of 165 acres she helped preserve along the Blue Ridge Parkway, where she has raised her three children.
meredith [at] appvoices.org
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 volunteering in the Andes of Ecuador. Following a stint as a research intern with Appalachian Voices in 2007, Rory went on to earn his M.A. 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, and then joined Downstream Strategies, where he managed the Energy Program and conducted research on coal, renewable energy and energy efficiency with a focus on Appalachia. Now living in Deep Gap, N.C., Rory joined the Appalachian Voices team to launch our Energy Savings for Appalachia program in 2013. He currently also serves on the Board of Trustees of the nonprofit organization WeOwnIt.
rory [at] appvoices.org
Jen Lawhorne is a multilingual former Fulbright scholar and seasoned activist. Virginia has always been her home, but Jen has ventured abroad to live in California, Mexico, Spain, and Italy. Richmond, however, is the community closest to her heart and where she attended undergrad and graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University. She currently lives there with her son and dog. Jen believes in the power of using media to drive social change and dabbles in photography and videography. She loves whipping up recipes she learned from her travels, crafting with fabric and textiles, and kicking it with her little family.
jen [at] appvoices.org
North Carolina / Tennessee program staff
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 N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2004. Over the next decade, Amy rose in the ranks to become the regional office supervisor for DENR’s Washington region. Amy joined Appalachian Voices in 2013. She currently serves as an Environmental Justice Co-Chair of the Southeast Climate and Energy Network. Amy joys spending time outdoors with her husband, Tony, and their two children, hiking, boating, camping and playing music together.
amy [at] appvoices.org
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, helping students make documentaries and educating 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 with Appalachian Voices and engaging the communities of western North Carolina.
ridge [at] appvoices.org
A Piedmont North Carolina native, Josh attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill receiving B.A.’s in American History and Communication Studies, as well as a minor in Writing for the Screen and Stage. After spending several summers working with Appalachia Service Project and following a brief period of vocational discernment, Josh attended Appalachian State University where he received an M.A. in Appalachian Studies. Josh joined the Appalachian Voices team following his graduation from ASU as the North Carolina Field Coordinator for the Energy Democracy Program and is happy to be returning home to the Triangle. A lover of sports (Go Heels!), live music, and baking, Josh is looking forward to working with communities and organizations across the state.
josh [at] appvoices.org
Maddy grew up in Boone, N.C. She has a B.A. in media and communications and is an M.A. candidate in political science from Appalachian State University. Her academic concentration is in environmental policy where her research interests cover the conceptions of nature and environmentalism and the valuation of the non-human world. She is excited to be a part of the Energy Democracy Program and have the opportunity to stay in Appalachia while working towards making it a more equitable place to live. Maddy loves hiking, running and spending time with her partner, Mike and their two dogs and adventurous cat.
maddy [at] appvoices.org
Born to a family of eight in a small village in southern Ohio, Bri’s passion for rural solutions was formed through her upbringing in a community struggling with economic, social and environmental issues faced by many rural places across the U.S. She obtained her B.A. in sustainable development from Wilmington College of Ohio, where she spent three years as an assistant to the Curator of a Quaker Heritage Center. Through engaging in multiple service-learning projects, interning and working for local nonprofits, and serving on an environmental conservation corps, Bri has cultivated her approach to intersectional problem solving. She is excited to be working with Appalachian Voices and the people of East Tennessee to address their energy efficiency needs.
brianna [at] appvoices.org
Gabi’s passion for energy democracy has guided her work since 2015. Gabi received her B.A. from Syracuse University and M.A. from the University of Georgia. In her graduate research, she studied the uneven harm caused by PG&E’s “public safety” power shutoffs and how organizers envision using microgrids for utility justice. Gabi also has experience with energy governance research, labor organizing in the South, and working for a public electricity agency in California. She is committed to transformative change led by impacted communities. Gabi was raised in Upstate New York, where she developed her love for mountains and dramatic autumns. She is thrilled to now call Tennessee home and to support communities in their pursuit of just energy systems.
gabi [at] appvoices.org
Angie was raised overlooking the Cumberland River in north-central Tennessee, and still resides on her family farm from which you can see the Cumberland City smokestacks. Her love of nature began as a child raising farm animals and crops and playing in the woods. This love of the outdoors grew into a life-long passion. Angie most recently taught Biology at Austin Peay State University for 10 years. She currently represents Appalachian Voices in Tennessee as community organizer, supporting the community members affected by the Cumberland City plant closure. She also advocates for TVA to make sustainable, long-lasting changes that are better for the environment, economy and health of the people.
angela [at] appvoices.org
Virginia program staff
A native of northern Virginia, Peter developed an appreciation for mountains and mountain music while earning his B.A. in philosophy at James Madison University. He began pursuing his interest in environmental policy while earning his J.D. at George Mason University. While there, Peter served legal internships at Resources for the Future and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. After graduating, he worked on climate change adaptation issues for Environmental Defense Fund and for the Society for Conservation Biology. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar. Peter joined Appalachian Voices’ Virginia program to work on opposing new fossil fuel investments and promoting a clean energy economy.
peter [at] appvoices.org
Emily joined Appalachian Voices as a transplant to Virginia from Missouri, where she has been engaged in environmental advocacy for several years. In 2020, she earned her M.S. in Natural Resource Management from the University of Missouri. In her graduate research, Emily explored the benefits of urban green spaces and their intersection with environmental justice concerns. During this time, she also gained experience in the energy sector as a policy researcher with Renew Missouri. Emily is passionate about finding collaborative solutions to environmental issues with the people most impacted by them and is excited to be working with communities across Virginia to reform our energy system. She herself is powered by coffee, long bike rides with friends and the many outdoor opportunities provided by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
emily [at] appvoices.org
Born and raised in Central Virginia, Jessica holds a lifelong passion for protecting Virginia’s waterways. Fine art degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and UNC – Greensboro led her to the nonprofit world, where she volunteered extensively with Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the James River Association and as President of artspace, a gallery in South Richmond, before working at the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter on their pipelines campaign. Jessica enjoys singing in a klezmer band, creating artwork and canoeing on the James River with friends and family. She is thrilled to join Appalachian Voices and to help fight against fracked-gas pipelines.
jessica [at] appvoices.org
Central Appalachian program staff
Adam first worked with Appalachian Voices as a volunteer while earning his B.A. at Appalachian State University. He happily rejoined the team in 2015 when he was hired to open our office in Norton, Virginia, and launch the New Economy program. Under Adam’s leadership, the program has made a deep impact in Southwest Virginia and across the state by building successful broad-based coalitions and connecting resources to fulfill economic and community development needs. Adam has over a decade of experience working with Appalachian-based nonprofits. He lives with his family in Wise, Virginia, where his roots go back many generations.
adam [at] appvoices.org
Originally from Pullman, Wa., 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.
erin [at] appvoices.org
Originally from Ohio, Chelsea holds a B.A. in Biology from the College of Wooster and a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University. Chelsea remained in North Carolina for more than 10 years after graduation, where she worked on clean energy policy, education, and outreach at NC State University, eventually launching a policy consulting business with her colleagues in order to advance strong renewable energy policies across the country. Chelsea joined Appalachian Voices in 2019 and is based in the Norton, Va. office. She enjoys baking, gardening, and hiking in the mountains with her husband any chance she gets.
chelsea [at] appvoices.org
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, Va., 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 with whom he disagrees about everything.
willie [at] appvoices.org
Originally from Bath County, Va., Matt received his B.A. in geography from Virginia Tech with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems and environmental resources. After working in the GIS field for five years, he spent two years in the master’s program at Appalachian State University, focusing on hydrology. Matt returned to Virginia to work for the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in Wise County, leading the group’s water program and helping develop litigation strategies against coal companies. He joined Appalachian Voices in 2017, and is based in our Norton, Va., office. Matt is a hiker and square dance caller, and loves spending time on the rivers of Central Appalachia.
matt.hepler [at] appvoices.org
Robert Kell joins Appalachian Voices after interning and volunteering with the New Economy Network. He is a native of Southwest Virginia and a trained community organizer with experience building issue and policy campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. Robert has a master’s from Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he studied social and economic ethics and wrote his thesis on social and environmental justice in Appalachia. Robert has served on the board of several social-impact nonprofits and is passionately working with those most directly affected to make sustainable change in the region.
robert [at] appvoices.org
Originally from Bell County, Kentucky, Emma has spent the last few years bouncing between Southwest Virginia and the University of Tennessee, where she completed her B.A. and M.A. in cultural anthropology. Her research focuses on human rights and environmental justice in Appalachia and has been centered around equitable collaboration with local communities. She has worked on various community outreach projects as a research and teaching assistant for the University of Tennessee, a seasonal interpretive ranger at Natural Tunnel State Park, and an outreach intern for the Register of Professional Archaeologists. She is passionate about bringing in as many voices as possible to help build a sustainable and just future for Appalachian communities from the ground up. Emma currently lives in Lee County and loves hiking, gaming, and spending time with her husband and cat.
emma [at] appvoices.org
A western North Carolinian with Appalachian roots stemming back to the early 1700s, Jamie holds a B.A. in English literature and minor in technical photography from Appalachian State University, and has over 20 years of experience in print and online media and digital communications technology. She earned two National Newspaper Association awards with Mountaintimes.com, co-founded High Country Press newspaper and Shout! magazine, and helped establish Appalachian State University’s Web Advisory Council to the Provost in 2005. She found her home in environmental work at Appalachian Voices in 2008, originally filling the role as editor for The Appalachian Voice in addition to working on web and print communications for the organization. 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.
jamie [at] appvoices.org
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 also holds an executive education certificate in Environmental Communication through Duke University. Molly served two years with AmeriCorps Project Conserve at Appalachian Voices, assisting with print and online communications, before joining the staff in 2013 as editorial communications coordinator. Since 2016, she has also served as editor of Appalachian Voices’ wide-reaching publication The Appalachian Voice.
molly [at] appvoices.org
Dan, who grew up in rural Missouri, worked as an opinion journalist for 20 years in Illinois, West Virginia, Florida and Virginia. As editorial page editor of the Charleston Gazette, he fought hard against mountaintop removal mining and other abuses of the coal industry. Before coming to Appalachian Voices, Dan worked as a media consultant for a number of environmental nonprofit organizations, including Earthjustice, National Resources Defense Council, Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates. He lives in Roanoke with his wife, teenaged son and two cats.
dan [at] appvoices.org
Jimmy has over 25 years of experience in graphic design, photography, illustration and web design. Hailing from the Atlanta area, Jimmy 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.
jimmy [at] appvoices.org
Ben grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, where he developed a lifelong love for the Appalachian region and its communities. He earned his B.A. in English and drama at the University of Virginia and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Recognized for his accomplishments in research, graphic design and community education, Ben’s writing on environmental justice is the heart of his work. He lives in North Carolina where he tends bees, writes fiction and raises beagles with his husband.
ben [at] appvoices.org