Front Porch Bloggers

Austin Counts — Austin grew up in the coalfields of Wise and Dickenson counties in Southwest Virginia. As our New Economy Field Coordinator, he works to bring solar energy and economic renewal to his beloved home region.

Brianna Knisley — Bri was born to a family of eight in a small southern Ohio village struggling with economic, social and environmental problems. This experience developed her passion for finding rural solutions to these issues that she uses in her work as our Tennessee Field Coordinator, bringing Energy Democracy to the Tennessee Valley area.

Cat McCue — Although not native to the region, Cat feels deeply connected to the mountains, rivers, backroads and small towns of Appalachia she has come to know over the years. She is Appalachian Voices’ Senior Communications and Public Engagement Strategist.

Chelsea Barnes — A committed advocate for clean energy policy, education and outreach, Chelsea is our Legislative Director based in our Norton, Va., office. When she is not advancing renewable energy, you can likely find her enjoying one of Southwest Virginia’s many scenic trails.

Emily Piontek — A transplant to Southwestern Virginia from the Midwest, Emily engages with communities and works to build a more equitable and sustainable energy system as our Virginia Energy Democracy Field Coordinator.

Erin Savage — While Erin prefers to be on rivers rather than at a desk, as our Central Appalachian Program Manager she devotes a lot of time delving through data to make it meaningful to others who care about the health of our waterways.

Jessica Sims — Born and raised in Central Virginia, Jessica holds a lifelong passion for protecting Virginia’s waterways. She works as AV’s Virginia Field Coordinator fighting against fracked-gas pipelines.

Josh McClenney — Josh McClenney is a field coordinator for Appalachian Voices’ work on energy democracy. He can most likely be found playing with his two dogs, at the nearest outdoor concert or trying to achieve the perfect cheesecake.

Kevin Ridder — Born in Arizona and raised in Tennessee, Kevin’s love of the mountains drove him to move even further east to Boone, N.C., where he serves as The Appalachian Voice’s Associate Editor and a communications associate for the organization.

Matt Hepler — A Bath County, Va., native, Matt uses his backgrounds in geography, GIS mapping and hydrology to help protect Appalachian communities from coal mining pollution as a member of our Central Appalachian / End Mountaintop Removal team. He’s also a fantastic square dance caller.

Ridge Graham — A graduate of Appalachian State University with a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology, Ridge served as our AmeriCorps Outreach Associate from 2015-17 and is now on staff as the Field Coordinator for our North Carolina program.

Rory McIlmoil — Rory is an energy policy and finance wonk with over a decade of experience working on energy policy and planning in Appalachia. He joined Appalachian Voices in spring 2013 as Energy Policy Director to head up our Energy Savings for Appalachia program. His dog, Hobo, is our official Boone office mascot.

Willie Dodson — A Virginia native who now splits his time between Johnson City, Tenn., and Wise County, Va., Willie has organized with environmental and social justice campaigns in the region for more than a decade. He is Appalachian Voices’ Central Appalachian Field Coordinator.


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