Member Spotlight: Two Inspiring Leaders

Appalachian Voices is paying tribute to two outstanding individuals, Christina Howe and Bunk Spann, who rotated off our Board of Directors after many years of devoted leadership to the organization.

christina_meetingChristina Howe joined Appalachian Voices in 2008, and served as the board’s chair since 2009. Before moving to Valle Crucis, N.C., Christina built and sold offices and airport hangars with her late husband in Miami, Fla. She formerly served as the president of the High Country Conservancy and is currently a partner and the assistant director of the Boone Healing Arts Center, a holistic facility with 14 medicine practitioners.

“My time at Appalachian Voices is one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had. I feel so fortunate to have been involved with people from the staff to the board,” says Christina. “There is great new leadership and a great spirit that’s going to carry the organization forward to a very special future.”

bunk_spann_meetingMilton G. “Bunk” Spann, also a board member since 2008 and board treasurer since 2010, is the founder of the National Center for Developmental Education at Appalachian State University, and a former elected member of the Boone, N.C., Town Council, where he helped further environmental efforts in water conservation and smart growth. He recently retired to Asheville, N.C., where he is currently working to make his neighborhood and community more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

“I have been privileged to serve on several boards but none have been more satisfying than Appalachian Voices,” Bunk says. “The organization has a bright future under the able leadership of Tom Cormons. I pledge to continue my support of the new Board and the important work that is before us.”

Under Bunk and Christina’s successful leadership, Appalachian Voices nearly doubled its staff and established offices in Charlottesville, Va., and Washington, D.C., and took our nationwide campaign against mountaintop removal coal mining to the next level. We discovered and sued over thousands of falsified pollution reports that led to the three largest fines ever levied against coal companies in Kentucky, and defeated what would have been the largest coal plant in Virginia. And we launched our successful campaign to promote energy efficiency financing options for rural electric co-op customers, a project that could result in the creation of thousands of clean energy jobs in the region.

Both Christina and Bunk (who happen to share a birthday!), have agreed to continue their service to the organization on the board’s Advisory Council.

“I can’t emphasize enough how Christina and Bunk’s steadfast dedication, their wisdom and judgement, and their great love for the region and the Appalachian Voices family have helped keep us inspired, ambitious, and — most importantly — focused on what really matters, which is continually taking our work to the next level,” says Executive Director Tom Cormons. “It was such a pleasure and privilege to spend my first two years as executive director during their tenures.”

James “Kim” Gilliam, is taking the helm as board chair, has been involved in fundraising and nonprofit management for more than 30 years. Since 2003, he has managed his private consulting firm in Charlottesville, Va., and has worked closely with a wide range of environmental and social justice groups throughout the United States and Canada.

“It is my privilege to bring my experience home to serve Appalachian Voices,” says Kim. “The staff is tireless in supporting and protecting the people and communities of our region of the country, and I am proud to be a part of this exemplary work.

Kathy Selvage, a long-time board member, is stepping into the role of treasurer. A Wise County, Va., resident and daughter of a coal miner, Kathy has worked for years and with numerous groups and organizations to bring national exposure to the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining.

“Though the shoes of Bunk and Christina will be hard to fill, I am delighted to be joining the Executive Committee,” Kathy says. “As an organization, we are ideally positioned to help in central Appalachia’s transition from the fuels of yesterday to the fuels of tomorrow, and poised to make a real difference in the transformation of Appalachia into just, livable and sustainable communities.”

“With Kim’s professional acumen and vast experience and Kathy’s exemplary and inspirational record as a citizen activist, they’re both legends in their own right,” Tom says. “We’re just incredibly honored they have joined our board’s leadership.”

Leave a Comment