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Patsy Adams is Appalshop’s Financial Administrator. Born and raised in Letcher County, KY, she joined Appalshop’s Marketing & Sales division in the late 1980s. She later served as Receptionist for Appalshop and was in charge of scheduling building events, conducting tours and a variety of other activities. She became Bookkeeper for the organization in 2004. Her previous experience includes helping to operate a day care center and bookkeeping for a coal trucking firm.
A native Kentuckian, Elizabeth Barret is Director of the Appalshop Archive and a veteran documentary filmmaker whose work pursues an abiding interest in the history, culture and people of Appalachia. She is the producer and director of STRANGER WITH A CAMERA (2000) and works as a community-based artist. In her documentaries QUILTING WOMEN (1976), HAND-CARVED (1980), COALMINING WOMEN (1982), and LONG JOURNEY HOME (1987), Appalachians tell their own stories. These films have been screened at film festivals and venues worldwide. Barret is a recipient of a Kentucky Arts Council Fellowship in Media Arts, NEA Southeast Media Fellowship and Rockefeller Foundation Film/Video/Multimedia Fellowship. She is involved in outreach using her documentary STRANGER WITH A CAMERA, which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast nationally on the PBS series P.O.V.
Managing Director Beth Bingman completed her Ph.D. in 1995 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a dissertation on women’s learning in Appalachian community organizations. She comes to Appalshop after serving as Associate Director at the Center for Literacy Studies at UTK. Her work there included research, evaluation, curriculum development, and design of professional development. Her involvement in community and regional activism includes service on the boards of the Dungannon (VA) Development Commission, the Appalachian Peace Education Center, the Appalachian Community Fund, Literacy South, and the Highlander Research and Education Center. Bingman also participates in the Appalachian Studies Association and has published in both adult education and Appalachian Studies. She is working on learning to play the guitar.
Ealge Brosi is the Americorp-VISTA for AMI this year. A graduate from Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in English, he has had plays read and produced in New York City. After publishing poetry, short stories and essays, Kentucky Monthly Magazine named him one of ten up and coming Kentucky writers. In 2005 Valiant Death Records used a design created by Eagle as an album cover for a Joe Jack Talcum (former lead singer of The Dead Milkmen) and Lee Lewis compilation CD.
Dudley Cocke, Director of Roadside Theater, is a stage director, teacher, writer, and media producer. He co-directed Betsy, theater collaboration with Pregones Theater, Bronx, NY, which premiered in New York City in 2008. International work includes directing the company’s performances in the Czech Republic, directing Junebug/Jack for England’s Festival of the American South at London’s South Bank Centre, and conducting dance/story workshops for the Baltic Dance Festival in Poland. He has taught theater at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Cornell University, and the College of William and Mary, and often speaks and writes as an advocate for democratic cultural values. His policy remarks and essays have been published by the Urban Institute, Yale University, American Theatre magazine, Americans for the Arts, Grantmakers in the Arts Reader, the Community Arts Network/Art in the Public Interest, The Arts Politic, among others. He co-edited, From the Ground Up, Grassroots Theater in Historical and Contemporary Perspective (Cornell University, 1993), Journeys Home: Revealing a Zuni—Appalachia Collaboration (A:shiwi Press, 2002), and several of his speeches are collected in Voices From the Battlefront: Achieving Cultural Equity (Africa World Press, 1993). Red Fox /Second Hangin’, which he co-authored, is one of seven plays in Alternate Roots: New Plays from the Southern Theatre (Heinemann, 1994). Cocke is a board member of the Bush Foundation, St. Paul, MN; Imagining America, Syracuse University; RUPRI, Washington, D.C., and Appalshop. He is a founding member of Alternate ROOTS and the Global Network for Cultural Rights, and is the recipient of the 2002 Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.
A native of Letcher County, KY, Cosgriff brought a wealth of experience with her when she returned to the mountains in 2004. She studied at the University of Kentucky School of Social Work in Lexington, KY and Paralegal Studies at Sullivan School of Business in Louisville, KY. She has lived in central Kentucky, Keokuk, IA, and Biloxi, MS, and has worked as a real estate paralegal and as a restaurant manager. She joined the Appalshop staff in 2005 and works in grants administration and Appalshop's Marketing & Sales Department.
Hansell is a documentary filmmaker and installation artist who lives and works in the Appalachian Mountains. Hansell currently teaches Appalachian Studies and Documentary Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and has twenty years experience at the Appalshop media arts center working with students and adults to create media about their communities. Hansell has taught community video workshops throughout the U.S as well as in China and Indonesia. Hansell’s documentary work has been broadcast nationally on public television and screened at international film festivals. He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His documentary Coal Bucket Outlaw was broadcast on public television in 30 states. His most recently completed documentary, The Electricity Fairy, premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010.
WMMT's Americorps-VISTA staff person for this year, Parker Hobson grew up in Louisville and holds a degree in Music from Davidson College. He is also a songwriter and producer who self-recorded and self-released an album, "flat-footed ghost," in 2009 that some people thought was all right and other people probably didn't. The lead singer from Concrete Blonde called an Italian restaurant in New Orleans where he once worked to say she liked it, though, which was "pretty cool." He has toured nationwide in support of said music, won an award for music writing at Davidson, can generally fit through narrow spaces, is trying to pick up the fiddle, and won the Gene Kelly Award in Little League for Dancing in the Batter's Box. He's also super excited and incredibly honored to be at both WMMT and Appalshop.
Mark Kidd, Communications Director of Roadside Theater, develops and manages the company’s web and media outreach; conceives, conducts, and manages story and low-cost media trainings; and collaborates with Roadside staff on project legacy, including documentation, artistic initiatives, and project administration. In 2006-2007, Kidd worked as a community organizer in the small Appalachian community of Dante, VA, where he and area volunteers developed solutions to the environmental and economic legacy of mining in the coalfields, including establishing a local museum, cultural festival, and the construction of a public sewer system in a community where none had previously existed. He has published articles in the Daily Yonder and The Kentucky Caver, and his poems have appeared in The Clinch Mountain Review, Qarrtsiluni, and Still. He is a representative to the Central Appalachian Regional Network, a group of diverse organizations working to identify and advance policy areas important to their five-state region; and was a regional representative to the 2011 National Rural Assembly planning subcommittee. He has served on the boards of Headwaters, Inc., a grassroots environmental education and community development organization in Kentucky; and Dante Lives On, a community revitalization and oral history organization in Virginia. Kidd graduated from the University of Kentucky, Cum Laude, with a BA in English/Writing and extensive coursework in Computer Science, Japanese Language, and Music Theory. He was the recipient of a Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities for 2003-2005, where his research focused in part on parallels between the community narratives of rural Japan and Appalachia during rapid industrialization after World War II.
Kirby is a long time WMMT staff member and producer. He had performed traditional Appalachian music and stories for 20 years before coming to WMMT in 1990. He has been involved in extensive documentation and recording of older musicians and done considerable work with traditional music in schools, both in Appalachia and in other parts of the country. In addition to his radio duties, he was music director of Appalshop’s Seedtime on the Cumberland Festival for three years. In 1989, he produced Lakutshon’ Ilanga: Mucis is a Healer, a 13-hour radio series on music in South Africa distributed nationally, and in 1997, he produced Seedtime on the Cumberland, a 13-part series of music from the annual festival, redistributed nationally in 2001. He has produced recordings for Appalshop’s June Appal record label, including recordings of National Heritage Award winners Lily May Ledford and Wade Mainer. For 10 years, he served as station manager for WMMT. His latest production work is A Fiddle Runs Through It, a radio series profiling the young musicians carrying on Appalachia’s music traditions and the older musicians they learned from. The series aired on more than 130 public radio stations. He has also produced Live at Appalshop, featuring music and short profiles of artists who have appeared live on the Appalshop Theater stage.
Lewis's filmmaking work reveals working class people fighting for social change. She was associate director/assistant camera for Harlan County, USA, the Academy Award-winning documentary, which focused on the Brookside, KY strike of 1975. After the strike, Lewis moved to the coalfields where she lived for 25 years. Among documentaries she has produced, directed and edited are To Save the Land and People (SXSW, Texas Documentary Tour), a history of a militant grassroots environmental movement; Justice in the Coalfields (INTERCOM gold plaque) about the community impact of the Pittston strike in southwest Virginia; On Our Own Land (duPont-Columbia award for independent broadcast journalism) about the citizens’ movement to stop broad form deed strip-mining; and Chemical Valley EY, co-directed with Mimi Pickering, (P.O.V., American Film and Video Blue Ribbon) about environmental racism. Her documentary Fast Food Women, about women struggling to raise families in minimum wage jobs with no benefits, received national airing on P.O.V. and was part of a Learning Channel series of films about women by women. Other recognized work includes Evelyn Williams, about an African-American activist, coal miner’s wife and mother of nine (Juror’s Choice, Black Maria Film Festival, Margaret Meade Festival); and Belinda, about AIDS-activist Belinda Mason who spoke of the need for a collective response not crippled by homophobia, racism, fear or ignorance (CINE Golden Eagle). Her most recent Appalshop film is Morristown, a working class look at globalization from both sides of the US-Mexico border. In spring 2012, Lewis and Mimi Pickering will release their latest documentary, Anne Braden: Southern Patriot, an exploration of the life and legacy of this renowned racial justice activist. Lewis lives in Austin, TX, and is a Senior Lecturer teaching media editing at the University of Texas.
Shawn Lind, a graduate of Ohio University, started working with Appalshop during the summer of 2005. Lind's first major production, "From Wood to Singing Guitar," had its world premier at Appalshop’s annual Seedtime on the Cumberland Festival. Since then, "From Wood to Singing Guitar" has had a strong national broadcast on PBS stations all across the country and several film festival awards. Lind's current productions include a portrait style documentary about blacksmith's in the region ("Sharper Than Fire") and a character/personality driven documentary with innovative use of multiple art forms and artists. In recognition of artistic excellence, Shawn Lind is the 2012 recipient of an Emerging Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, which is supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
A native of Wise County, VA, Marshall began her affiliation with WMMT-FM as a volunteer in 1994 and joined the staff in 1999 as Operations Manager. She served as Station Manager from 2002 to 2009 and now is working in WMMT operations and management. Marshall has a business background, having owned and managed a company in Wise, VA for more than 20 years.
A native of Perry County, Derek was first introduced to Appalshop as an AMI intern in 1996. Before joining Marketing & Sales in late 2004 he had been touring the country in various bands playing everything from metal to folk music.
A lifelong resident of Perry County, KY, Neace joined WMMT as Director of Community Engagement in 2012. As a boy, he tagged along with his father to the radio station where he worked, and the very first time he entered the broadcast studio, it was love at first sound. He has worked at college and commercial stations as a program engineer and on-air personality. In 2008, Neace battled testicular cancer. The cancer is in remission, and as a result of his fight, a great deal of his efforts are devoted to raising awareness and money for cancer research. Neace is also a published author of short stories and novels.
A native of Pikeville, KY, Parsons began his visual career as an award-winning editorial cartoonist before entering the Ohio University School of Film where he graduated with his Masters of Fine Arts in 2008. Parsons began working with Appalshop in 2005 and has served as a filmmaker, web designer and educator in the AMI youth media project. He is currently directing his first feature length documentary while also serving as an Assistant Professor of Film and Media Arts and the Director of New Media at the University of Pikeville.
Mimi Pickering is an award-winning filmmaker and director of Appalshop’s Community Media Initiative (CMI). Her documentaries often feature women as principle storytellers, focus on injustice and inequity, and explore the efforts of grassroots people to address community problems that frequently reflect global issues. Pickering is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two Kentucky Arts Council Artist Fellowships. Her film, The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man, was selected by the Librarian of Congress for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 2005. Other documentaries include Chemical Valley, an examination of environmental racism in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley after the Bhopal disaster in India in 1983, which aired on the PBS series P.O.V., and Dreadful Memories, an exploration of the life and times of traditional singer and radical songwriter Sarah Ogan Gunning. The Oral History Review described Pickering’s film Hazel Dickens: It's Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song as “a powerful tale told by one of Appalachia’s most reverent filmmakers working today…” As CMI Director, Pickering is coordinating the East KY Reproductive Health Project, a collaboration with AMI and young women from the region to create and distribute media telling their stories about reproductive health issues, and producing stories for Making Connections News, a joint effort with WMMT-FM to explore sustainable economic options for the coalfields.
Donna Porterfield, Managing Director of Roadside Theater for the past 32 years, also serves the ensemble as a playwright, dramaturge, and producer. She has been instrumental in the creation and documentation of Roadside’s highly successful community residency model and the model’s methodologies. In 2006-‘07, she worked with prisoners and corrections officers and their respective families, and with people living in communities where prisons are sited to write a play, Thousand Kites, from their stories, which premiered in Lebanon and Richmond, VA, Philadelphia, PA, and Jackson, MS. In 1998-2000, she led a residency with a women’s shelter in central Appalachia, in which she worked with staff and survivors of physical and sexual abuse to write and direct a play, Voices from the Battlefront, addressing domestic violence. Porterfield is producer of Roadside’s ongoing, 28-year collaboration with traditional Native American artists in the Pueblo of Zuni, New Mexico; she co-authored the Roadside/Idiwanan An Chawe play, Corn Mountain/Pine Mountain: Following the Seasons, which toured nationally; and she co-edited Journeys Home: Revealing a Zuni— Appalachia Collaboration, a 112 page bilingual book with accompanying compact disc that probes and documents the collaboration. Porterfield’s articles have been published in High Performance Magazine, on the National Endowment for the Arts website, and in the book, The Citizen Artist: 20 Years of Art in the Public Arena. She has served as consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts, Kentucky Arts Council, Arkansas Arts Commission, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Urban Bushwomen, Alternate ROOTS, Southern Arts Federation, and Mid-Atlantic Arts Consortium, among others. In 2005 Porterfield was awarded an individual artist grant from Creative Capital Foundation.
Born and raised in Van Lear, KY, Brett Ratliff now makes his home in Whitesburg and serves as WMMT Program Director. He earned a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Production and a minor in Traditional Music from Morehead State University. As a professional musician, he has taught workshops and toured extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, releasing his first solo recording, Cold Icy Mountain, on June Appal Recordings in 2008. Ratliff has played with such groups as Rich & the Po’ Folk, Clack Mountain String Band and the Dirk Powell Band.
Rubens joined Appalshop's Archive staff in 2007 to help safeguard and improve access to the organization's collections. Her work at Appalshop has focused on cataloging, preserving, and securing safe storage for Appalshop's thousands of hours of moving image and audio material, as well as its photographs and institutional paper records. She is a graduate of New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program where she studied film, video, audio, and digital media archiving. She is interested in the long-term preservation of community and independent media. Rubens is a New Jersey native, and is a member of the Kentucky Council on Archives and the Association of Moving Image Archivists.
Ryerson joined Appalshop full-time in 2010, as director of the Community Correspondents Corps, WMMT’s citizen journalism project. She currently works as a producer/reporter for the station, co-producing the bi-weekly news and public affairs show Mountain News and World Report. Two of her current radio projects include Making Connections News, a multi-media series highlighting the possibilities and obstacles for a healthy economic transition in the Appalachian region, and Prison Progress…? Mass Incarceration in the Coalfields, a seven-part radio documentary that investigates the impacts of prison growth in the mountains of Central Appalachia. Ryerson also teaches fiddle in the Letcher County elementary schools as a part of Appalshop’s traditional music program, and is has served as a media trainer for Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute. Ryerson is a graduate of Wesleyan University with degrees in American Studies and Music.
Born and raised in the coalfields of southwest Virginia, Salyer was trained as a filmmaker at the Appalshop and joined the staff in 1998. He is producer, director and editor of SLUDGE, a documentary that examines a major Kentucky coal waste spill and its effects on the environment and community. He is currently producing BAD OLD DAYS, a documentary about Kentucky county politics.
Ron Short, Roadside playwright, composer and performer for the past 32 years, grew up in central Appalachia steeped in the traditional Appalachian music tradition perpetuated for 200 years by his family. He scripted and wrote music for 15 musical plays and performs in 5 touring Roadside productions. Short produced Roadside's three-year project in collaboration with Cornell University which included developing and teaching a course, "Issues in Community Based Art," and convening a national theater symposium. An excerpt from his musical play, South of the Mountain, appears in the publication, A Southern Appalachian Reader (Appalachian Consortium Press); and Promise of a Love Song, which he co-authored with Pregones Theater and Junebug Productions, appears in Ensemble Theater: An Anthology (Theatre Communications Group, 2005). His music recordings include Cities of Gold, on the June Appal label; Roadside Theater's Singing; Wings to Fly on the Copper Creek label; Miners & Millhands, UVA-Wise; and Music of Coal, Appalachia Music From Home, and Driving Around An Empty Town, on Lonesome Records, which he co-founded with the Appalachian Office on Youth.
Born and raised in Hollybush in Knott County, KY, Anthony Slone’s family has made their home in rural eastern Kentucky for the last six generations. Slone joined Appalshop as a film student in 1973 and in 1976 he received his first Finalist award in the American Film Festival for the documentary Nimrod Workman: To Fit My Own Category, a portrait of a coal miner, union organizer, and National Heritage Award Winner noted for his original songs and ancient ballads. In 1985, Slone received another Finalist award in the American Film Festival for Sunny Side of Life, a documentary profiling The Carter Fold, a musical venue created by Joe and Jeanette Carter at Hiltons, VA to carry on the music tradition of their parents A.P. and Sara Carter, of the singing Carter Family. In 1993, Slone finished Homemade Tales: Songs and Sayings of Florida Slone, a portrait of Slone’s mother, an incredible singer and storyteller. In 1997, Slone filmed APPLEWISE, a video about a family's struggle to raise apples in a changing environment and economy. Funded in part by ITVS, this film was shown on most PBS stations in the country. Slone has filmed, and edited a number of films currently in production. His latest release is Whippin’ the Devil, a profile of a former Prohibition-era moonshiner in southwest Virginia.
Ada Smith is from Whitesburg, KY and graduated from Hampshire College in 2010. After graduating she joined Appalshop's staff as the Program Coordinator for the Appalachian Media Institute (AMI). Having grown up within Appalshop where both of her parents are documentary filmmakers, she is honored to be a part of Appalshop's future. Ada also serves on the board of Southerners on New Ground (SONG) and is a founding member of the STAY Project.
Since 1969 when he was a high school student, Herb Smith has played an active role in Appalshop. Smith continues to make films in the area where he was raised. His films explore cultural, social and economic issues of the Appalachian region. His latest film, The Ralph Stanley Story, is a portrait of the mountain musician who had been performing for more than 55 years. Smith has also completed a film based on an essay by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry, Thoughts in the Presence of Fear. His films and videotapes have been shown throughout the country in venues from community centers and union halls to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. International screenings of his work include Paris, Berlin, Rome, Calcutta, Bombay and Chengdu.
Spangler serves as the lead educator with the Appalachian Media Institute and is a recently returning native of Whitesburg, KY. He is an alumnus of Whitesburg High School and Morehead State University. His history with Appalshop ranges from being a volunteer programmer at WMMT, assisting with a variety of youth arts programs, and serving as an intern during the 2002 AMI Summer Documentary Institute. He is a fan of long sleeves and over-dressing for the occasion.
In 1998 Szuberla co-founded the media arts project "Holler to the Hood" to explore the social impact of moving hundreds of thousands of inner city minority offenders to distant rural prisons. He is the current director and co-founder of “Thousand Kites” a national dialogue and organizing project addressing the U.S. criminal justice system and human rights. With a variety of media (live performance, radio, video and digital) and forms (including a multimedia installation and database-driven web site), his projects focus on creating public space where people can tell their story in their own voice. He has worked extensively in the youth media movement throughout rural America, including in Appalachia, Mississippi Delta, and south Texas. Working with young people in central Appalachian, Szuberla has also produced workshops that explore "hill-hop," a rural hip-hop genre. He was the producer of the award winning documentary films Up the Ridge, The Global Economy in Our Backyard, and Sambusa. His work has been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Definitely Not the Opera, BBC, Bob Edwards Show, and NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. A Creative Capital fellowship grantee, Szuberla was awarded a New Generations fellowship from the Theater Communications Group.
Raised in Blackey, KY, by her mother and grandmother, Watts began to participate in the Appalachian Media Institute at the age of 16. She remained an integral part of AMI through high school and college, rising through the program in leadership opportunities including peer mentor, advanced intern, and media trainer. She is currently serving as the Interim Director of AMI and completing her Master’s degree in Education. Natasha and her husband Bruce delivered their first child Finnegan in October 2011.
Jim Webb’s affiliation with WMMT goes back to December 1985, a month after the station went on the air. He joined the staff in June 1986 and has held a variety of positions. A native of Letcher County, Webb holds a Bachelor of Arts from Berea College and an MA from Eastern Kentucky University. He is a widely published poet and playwright whose work experiences include hospital purchasing, teaching, printing and publishing, managing a canoe livery, and operating a primitive resort. He is a founding member of the Southern Appalachian Writers Co-Op and the Tug Valley Recovery Center. He is involved with the Letcher County Chamber of Commerce, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Letcher County Tourism Commission.