Meet our 2017 Appalachian Transition Fellowship Fellows

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Alice Beecher

Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, and InVision Hazard

Alice is an activist, writer and musician working with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Whitesburg, KY. A dedicated transplant, Alice grew up in Massachusetts but has spent the past several years organizing for economic, environmental, and social justice in Appalachia. For the past two years, she served as a youth mentor, educator and organizer with High Rocks Educational Corporation in southern West Virginia. Beforehand, she organized against extractive industries and for worker’s rights in Ohio. In her spare time, Alice likes to play the banjo, talk about mental health, write and perform poetry, and find edible plants in the woods.

Courtney Boyd

Unlimited Future, Inc., and the Wild Ramp

Courtney grew up in eastern Kentucky and lived in the state until her early 20’s when she decided that there was a lot left unlearned by the conventional education she had received up to that point.  That’s when she departed from Appalachia, first working for social justice and women’s rights with native peoples in South Dakota.  This started a path of experiential learning where she lived in Utah building beautiful houses with natural materials, worked for solar energy non-profits in Colorado, organically farmed vegetables and worked for a small birch syrup business in Alaska.  Returning to Appalachia last year was a deliberate move to act on the idea that young people need not seek a far off place to find their community but instead can create home where a place needs them. 

Although many things have influenced her life, digging her hands in the soil and knowing the love of tender sprouts peeking above ground in spring is what inspires her most.  Courtney believes we have the ingredients already in place to support ourselves and communities in a way that enhances life, not degrades it, and is looking forward to cooking these up with the Appalachian Transition Fellowship.

Brittany Means Carowick

West Virginia Center for Civic Life, West Virginia Council of Churches, and Generation West Virginia

Birttis a native of Charleston, WV.  As a first-generation college student, she completed her undergraduate degree at Concord University 2012 and achieved her Master's in Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University in 2015. In between, she served a year as an AmeriCorps member in rural West Virginia. Brittany's academic research examines the Hispanic experiences in Appalachia, but she's also personally passionate about Appalachian placemaking, youth retention in the mountains, and community self-determination. Brittany co-founded the Appalachian Studies Association's youth leadership committee, Y'ALL, in 2014 and still serves on ASA's steering committee. Since earning her Master's, Brittany's path has led her back to WV, into the nonprofit community and economic development sector. She lives in Charleston with her husband, Joseph.

Sam Hamlin

Community Farm Alliance and Fibershed

Sam grew up in a rural community in the New River Valley area of southwestern Virginia. At 19, she left home and went to college in Chicago. While away from the region, she got involved in grassroots community organizing against the war in Iraq and has been organizing for justice ever since. She is passionate about racial and economic justice issues, and has done work around sexual assault prevention education, immigrant rights solidarity, and racial justice organizing with rural communities in Oregon. Though she has been away from the region, she has ached to be back in the mountains for many years. She is grateful for the opportunity to return to Appalachia to give back to the place and the people that reared her.

Hope Hart

Appalshop and Highlander Research and Education Center

Brought home to these mountains as an infant, Hope is a Korean adoptee from Ritchie County, West Virginia. A stubborn optimist restless as a bystander, she has worked within affordable housing, literacy and prison reform, open access education, and other causes close to the heart of Appalachia. A graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in English literature, Hope sees storytelling as a powerful tool for social and economic justice, and sees the region as a library of voices ready for the world to read.

Abby Huggins

Hindman Settlement School, Knott County Chamber of Commerce, and Appalachian Food Summit

Abby was raised in Wilkes County, North Carolina and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Elementary Education. Afterwards, she collaborated with rural organizations in Grenada, West Indies and Nome, Alaska, working with youth, elders, and families around education, culture, community, food access, and housing justice. Abby spent several seasons working on sustainable farms, first in Alaska, then in North Carolina. She is pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi with an emphasis on oral history, foodways, and Appalachia and plans to graduate in May 2017. Her thesis project is based on stories of food and community gathered through oral history interviews in and around Letcher County, Kentucky. Abby is deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the work Highlander is doing and to support movements around food and dance in Eastern Kentucky.

Kristie Rodgers

Appalachian Land Study

Currently living in rural Harlan County, KY,  Kristie Rodgers an emerging visual artist specializing in emotional impressions through acrylic paintings, exhibiting her work extensively in Seattle and Boston for the past 12 years. She is a community organizer and leader for several grassroots campaigns including advocating for homeless rights, food justice, gmo labeling, and a wide variety of other environmental and social justice causes. She is also a member of "Higher Ground" produced through the Godbey Appalachian Center, and a member ofthe Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange. Kristie is a full-time non-traditional college honor student pursing degrees in clinical psychology and Appalachian studies.

A divorced mom of 3 adult sons, and 2 feline furbabies, Kristie is very passionate about her Appalachian heritage. Sheenjoys church and community activities, as well as wildcrafting, amateur entomology, writing poetry, cooking, listening to an eclectic mix of music, antiquing, travel, fine chocolate, and cheese.

Finnley Willow

Higher Ground and Highlander Research and Education Center

Bio and picture coming soon!

Terran Young

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Appalachian Voices, and Virginia Tech

Terran's family has been in the Wise County, VA area for over 100 years. Terran spent her younger childhood years in Virginia before moving to Ohio. She has been back in Virginia for over 10 years and is looking forward to working with and in the community.

Brennan Zerbe

Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council and the Calhoun County Park Board

Brennan grew up in Charleston, WV.  He left West Virginia to study Spanish at Appalachian State in North Carolina.  Brennan returned to Charleston in 2014 and began work at a bookstore, Taylor Books, where he spent most of his time curating the book selection and trying to get folks to read!