The excitement about the AppFellows' 2014-15 pilot program and the next cycle is palatable in our region. The incredible learning, connections, and work achieved this year are a real testament to the inaugural host communities, institutions and fellows.  The next class hopes to be even stronger than the last, with dozens of strong host and fellow applicants seeking to build on this important work. We appreciate the interest and support for the program, its current fellows and host communities, and prospective fellows and hosts in the next cycle.

Despite the success of the inaugural fellowship cycle, we unfortunately are pushing back the start date for the second cycle of the fellowship to support a  thorough assessment of this innovative approach to justice work in our region and ensure an effective, successful program in the next cycle with the capacity to fully support and lift up the amazing work of current and future fellows and hosts. This will also contribute to a stronger communications strategy moving forward about the program and the needs in the region, and secure funding support that can sustain the great work of so many cross-sector partnerships and fellows throughout Appalachia.

We greatly appreciate all the funders, fellows, and host communities who have made this first cycle such a success and we will be working in concert with the Appalachian Funders Network to strategize how to ensure this program's success and sustainability moving forward into the 2015-16 cycle. 

We will keep this site updated with the latest information and detailed timelines as they develop. More information will also be offered at the closing gathering  May 18-19 in Knoxville, TN, and by email and phone with primary partners and allies.  

If you have questions or would like to talk with us, please feel free to email or call or call 865-360-7761 or 865-850-3333.  Thank you! 


Eric Dixon

Eric Dixon

What are your plans after you graduate?

I can’t tell you how many times that question was asked of me over the past 12 months. This time last year, I was toying with the idea of pursuing a master’s in economics or policy, either in the US or UK. There was also an outer realm chance I might masochize myself through law school.

The question was where and what to study. Not ‘should I go to school at all?’ And just as I was beginning to have a response for those wondering what I was doing with my life, my graduate school plans spontaneously combusted.

Now, if you’ve ever witnessed spontaneous combustion, you know it’s second only to stuffing a 20-pound watermelon with mortar-shell fireworks (not that I’ve ever done that). In terms of obliteration, it’s so stunning a rainbow should appear afterwards.

So you can imagine that the halt of my school plans was brought on by my discovery of something even more exciting and rainbow-worthy: a newly developed program called the Appalachian Transition Fellowship managed by the Highlander Research and Education Center. I’d heard of that place. I’d heard a lot about that place...


Appalachian Transition Fellowship 2014-15

Closing Gathering

May 18-19, 2015

Knoxville, TN

TN Valley Unitarian Universalist Church 

Make plans now to join the 2014-15 AppFellows hosts and fellows, special guests, partners in the region's economic transition, and people like you working to advance a just, sustainable Appalachia! We'll celebrate with an opening reception  May 18 that will include food and a cash bar with entertainment provided by Black Atticus and the LoneTones and on May 19, we'll enjoy panel discussions, TED Talks, and small group breakouts to work together for Appalachia's future. We hope to see you there! Click here to register.

What is the Appalachian Transition Fellowship Program?

The Appalachian Transition Fellowship is a year-long, full-time, paid program designed for 15 emerging community leaders who are committed to working in Central Appalachia for the economic transition of the region. Central Appalachia is defined as West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee, Appalachian Ohio and Western North Carolina. 

This program offers the opportunity to spend a year working within host communities to help foster cross-sector (education, nonprofit, for-profit, philanthropy, and government) partnerships, provide needed capacity to regional efforts, and build personal and professional skills. Through institutional placements, independently designed projects, training, and mentoring, the program gives emerging leaders and host organizations skills and networks needed to advance economic and social change in the region.

Central Appalachia is engaged in a period of economic transition. While the decline of previously stable industries such as coal and manufacturing bring significant economic instability, it also offers Appalachia the opportunity to focus on the long-term well-being of its people and its communities. This economic transition allows regionally-based industries to prosper while also protecting and supporting the environmental and social well-being of the region. The Appalachian Transition Fellowship (AppFellows) seeks to increase the connectivity and capacity of Appalachian institutions and leaders while building a collective analysis and seeding projects to change the systemic problems in our region, leading to a just and sustainable Appalachian economy.  

2014-15 Host Communities and Fellows


Appalachian Citizen's Law Center, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC), and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) / Fellow: Eric Dixon - Whitesburg, KY 

Community Farm Alliance, Foundation for Appalachian KY and Foundation for a Healthy KY/ Fellow: Mae Humiston - Eastern KY

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC), City of Benham and Christian Outreach with Appalachian People (COAP) / Fellow: Josh Outsey - Benham, KY

North Carolina

Carolina Textile District and Opportunity Threads / Fellow: Willa Johnson - Morganton, NC


Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACENet), American Electric Power, Athens City Government and Rural Action / Fellow: Carol Davey - Athens, OH

ReUse Industries, Ohio University Voinovich School and Rural Action Zero Waste Streams / Fellow: Zack Swick - Athens, OH


UT Dept of Sociology and Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) / Fellow: Tom Torres - Knoxville, TN


Appalachian Sustainable Development and Virginia Tech / Fellow: Derrick Von Kundra - Abingdon, VA

West Virginia

Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and City of Spencer / Fellow: Adam Hall - Parkersburg, WV

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Mountain View Solar and One Foundation / Fellow: Tyler Cannon - Huntington, WV

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center (CMAC) and Corey Brothers / Fellow: Joey Aloi - Charleston, WV

WV Center for Civic Life, WV Community Development Hub and WV PBS / Fellow: Catherine Moore - Statewide West Virginia


The Alliance for Appalachia and Virginia Tech / Fellow: Kendall Bilbrey

Webinars and Community Informational Powerpoint 

Please click here for the Fellow Webinar Powerpoint

Please click here for the Host Community Webinar Powerpoint

Please click here for the Community Foundation Webinar Powerpoint