Our Leadership

Across Kentucky, in statewide and local campaigns, hundreds of KFTC leaders are deeply engaged and actively leading others. These leaders grow through skills training, mentoring, exchange with other groups and on-the-job practice.

Member leaders also govern our organization. Each chapter chooses a representative and alternate to the statewide Steering Committee. Members also serve on statewide issue committees such as Land Reform, Economic Justice, and New Energy & Transition, as well as governance committees like Personnel, Leadership Development and Finance. Many engage as New Power Leaders.

Statewide Officers

Dana Beasley Brown


Dana lives in Bowling Green with her husband and children. She is passionate about economic justice, empowering low-income communities, and restoring government to what it should and can be. When she isn't registering voters, teaching people about Kentucky's tax structure, learning about how to protect people who rent their homes, or studying energy policies to help low-income families, Dana spends her time singing (her not-so-secret-anymore passion), getting involved in community events, and enjoying life with her family.

Elizabeth Sanders


Elizabeth Sanders was raised in eastern Kentucky. She is committed to building stronger and healthier communities so young people in the region have the option to stay and make good lives in the places they call home. She is Co-General Manager of WMMT-FM, the community radio station of Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky. She is a member of the STAY (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) Network, the Young Climate Leaders Network, and her Tuesday night Dungeons and Dragons group.

Suzanne Tallichet

Immediate Past Chair

Sue lives in Morehead and teaches Appalachian Sociology at Morehead State University. She became involved in KFTC after being inspired to by her students. "Democracy doesn't happen on its own," she has said. "As ordinary citizens we have to come together and make it happen." She has served as the Rowan County Chapter representative on the Steering Committee, as a member of the Land Reform Committee and Litigation Team, and as the Rowan County Chapter chair and publicity coordinator.

Tanya Torp

Vice Chairperson

Tanya is an active member of the Central Kentucky chapter and the overall community in Lexington. She started her own foundation, Be Bold, which helps young women and girls in the community by empowering them to go beyond their circumstances. Her home in Lexington is open to the community to come together to work on social justice together and is also a safe place for those in need to come for help.

Homer White

At-Large Representative

Homer has served on the Steering Committee for the Pike County chapter (long ago) and more recently the Scott County chapter. He is a math professor at Georgetown College. He serves on the Economic Justice Committee and is a chapter leader on fairness, non-discrimination, voting rights, recycling and tax reform issues.

Chapter Representatives

Leslie Bebensee

Scott County Representative

Leslie has operated Kokovoko Breeding Farm for the past 26 years, raising Swedish Gotland ponies, Lincoln Longwool sheep, and poultry in Harrison County. She is passionate about social justice, equality, and restoring a healthy environment for future generations. She credits her single mom, a lifelong activist, for steering her toward working for the public good. She is the mother of two grown girls, and keeps busy managing the farm and with another small business selling wool and handspinning supplies. Leslie is a relative newcomer to KFTC, and calls the Scott Co. chapter home, hoping to expand its reach to Harrison County, too! In her spare time, she drives ponies competitively and volunteers for CASA.

Ryan Fenwick

Jefferson County Representative

Ryan is a member of the Jefferson County Chapter. He moved to Louisville a little over a decade ago from extreme Western Kentucky to attend University of Louisville and try out living in a more urban place. He will probably stay in Louisville forever. A long time bicycle commuter,  Ryan joined because of his interest in environmental protection, but was quickly won over by KFTC's integrated social, economic, and environmental justice perspective. He is active in his local chapter on the air quality and economic justice committees and also serves as one third of the chapter's publicity coordination team.

Sarah Martin

Central Kentucky Representative

Sarah Martin is an active member of the Central Kentucky chapter and serves on the Voter Empowerment Strategy Team, Economic Justice Committee and as a leader within her own chapter. Sarah received a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Kentucky University, majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Women & Gender Studies. She appreciates what KFTC has done for her by allowing her to fall in love with her home state and be proud of the good work we are doing to make Kentucky a place where all can thrive. A Fayette County native, Sarah enjoys the outdoors, spending time with friends and family, UK women’s and men’s basketball, international soccer, singing, and meaningful, intersectional social and racial justice work.

Andrea Massey

Harlan County Representative

Andrea is a resident of Benham, Kentucky and has worked for over 30 years at the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. She is very active in her community, volunteering for a number of organizations, including, but not limited to the Eastern Kentucky Social and Civic Organization in Tennessee, the Cumberland Kentucky Mental Health Counseling Association, and the historical Benham Memorial Theater. Andrea has been married to her husband George for forty years and has a son, George Jr., and a daughter, Maria.  She has a daughter-in-law Kiyon and son-in-law Derrick.  Two granddaughters Princess number one Amarrie and Princess number two Logan. She enjoy spending her spare time with her family and grandchildren.

Leslie McBride

Shelby County Representative

Leslie lives on a farm in Waddy. She was formerly an environmental attorney, but is now legal counsel for the Kentucky Housing Corporation.

"I grew up in a house where you might find an injured owl in the bathroom or baby possums in the living room (one time, a turkey vulture threw up in our house and it stank for 6 months). My dad taught me to love and protect the natural world, and I was greatly influenced by Tom Fitzgerald in law school."

The issues that are most important to Leslie are: mountaintop removal, fracking and the proposed Bluegrass pipeline, Shelby Energy New Power initiative, fairness, voting rights for former felons, and animal rights.

Leslie spends her spare time caring for her "merry menagerie" of rescued animals, reading, and listening to folk and old school R & B.

Megan Mckinney

Madison County Representative

Megan is an East Tennessee native and a member of the Madison County Chapter. She is currently a senior at Berea College, majoring in Economics with an international policy concentration. Her main passion areas include human rights, economic justice, and youth-focused approaches to organizing. When she has a free minute, she spends her time relaxing with friends, finding new books to love, and deciding where she wants to travel next.

Lillian Prosperino

Letcher County Representative

Lillian is from Whitesburg, KY, and worked for KFTC in Fall of 2014 as a Voter Empowerment Organizer. She is now a substance abuse and mental health counselor in Letcher County who is finishing up her graduate degree, and is also the steering committee representative for the Letcher County Chapter. Lillian is interested in community development in Appalachia, as well as restoring voting and other rights to former felons. She spends her free time playing music, reading comic books, and cuddling with her 3 cats and miniature dachshund.

JoAnn Schwartz

Northern Kentucky Representative

Originally from Boone County but now living in Campbell, Leslie's family settled in KY over 200 years ago. She retired in March 2015 due to some health issues after a career of nursing in the fields of oncology and hospice. Just to keep life interesting, she also has an MA in Theology with an interest in world religions. Leslie has been very active in social justice most of her life, particularly in areas of housing and homelessness. She currently serves on the Economic Justice Committee.

She has been married for almost 40 years to her loving husband Paul. They have two children and three grandchildren. Reading and gardening have always been her passions. Ask her how her straw bale planting experiment is going.

Al Smith

Southern Kentucky Representative

Al grew up moving around the South, claiming Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina among his homes. He came to Bowling Green in 1999 and studied religion and history at Western Kentucky University. After graduate work in religion, he found himself with a chance to do mission work in Western Australia. Three years later, he came back to Kentucky. Wanting to get involved with social justice efforts, he consulted old friends and mentors. The common reply was "KFTC is doing really good work."

Al joined in 2011 and is most interested in economic justice, tax reform, and voting rights. He is a registered nurse living in Bowling Green with wife Jeanie and two of the finest boys you'll ever meet.

Randy Wilson

Perry County Representative

Randy is the folk arts director at the Hindman Settlement School where he has worked for the last quarter of a century bringing music, dance, and story telling to the eastern Kentucky community. He has been a member of KFTC for the same period, bringing the banjo to rallies in Frankfort and Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations in New York City. He has been a part of many cultural exchanges across this country, including visits with Latino communities in the Bronx, New York and in San Antonio, Texas; Native communities in Alaska; and Arab communities in Dearborn, Michigan. He has also participated in international cultural exchanges in Rome, Italy and mining communities in Colombia in South America. You may hear his Kid’s Radio streaming live from WMMT FM with songs and stories, plus special interviews on subjects ranging from wild salad greens to the history of the mountain dulcimer.


Rosanne Fitts Klarer

Scott County alternate

Rosanne lives with her husband, Tim, in rural Scott County. After many years of teaching children with special needs in public schools and a day treatment clinic in Florida, she is retired. Since she was a teenager, she has had a strong sense of social and environmental justice. Since 2003, she has been involved with recruiting friends and raising funds for KFTC. She has been active with the Scott County KFTC Chapter for the past few years. Her interests have recently led her to be on the Land Reform Committee.

Dora James

Southern Kentucky Alternate

Dora has been working for the Fairness Campaign as the Western KY Regional Organizer since 2013, leading the Bowling Green and Owensboro Fairness Coalition groups. She is passionate about human rights such as LGBT Fairness, immigration reform, abolition of capital punishment, voting rights, and youth rights. She is a 2013 undergraduate of Western Kentucky University, with a degree in History, second major in Sociology, minors in Legal Studies and Criminology, and a concentration in Pre-Law. She believes in the importance of non-violence and intersectionality. 

Meta Mendel-Reyes

Madison County Alternate

Meta is a professor of Peace and Social Justice Studies at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. After graduating from college in her home state of California, she spent fifteen years as a labor organizer, including four years with migrant farm workers. Meta is the author of Reclaiming Democracy: The Sixties in Politics and Memory (New York: Routledge, 1995). She has lived in Kentucky since 2000. “Limbo” is her first creative nonfiction essay to be published.

Lisa Montgomery

Rowan County Alternate

With an ardor for learning, Lisa is obtaining a second degree in education from Morehead State. Fascinated by the physical sciences, she believes teaching children to observe, question, interact with, and understand the world in which they live will inspire the best hope for future generations. She would love to move back home to her family's forested hills in Breathitt County to teach. Lisa became involved with KFTC in 2009 and has worked with the steering committee, chapter fundraisers, fairness, and other local issues. 

Lisa has deep Appalachian roots and loves her heritage.  She keeps a weedy garden in the summer, is a cashier at Lowe’s, and works with her professor researching multicultural folktales. She has two dogs: Maggie and Marigold, and enjoys hiking, pottery, cooking, and most of all spending time with loved ones. Her favorite summer memory is backpacking to the natural arch near Gate Post Hill in Bath County, getting lost in the rain with a hydrophilic map, and accidentally finding the most convenient shortcut ever.  

Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan

Jefferson County alternate

Born in Danville, Daniel grew up among the farms and forests of the nearby knobs where he developed his own appreciation for the environment. With parents who have been activity involved in strip mining and social justice issues, he grew up aware of many of the issues KFTC promotes. He attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where he studied history and economics which helped him hone his views and values on the world. After getting his masters degree from the University of Kentucky, he worked as a high school history teacher in central Kentucky before moving to Louisville to teach. He also studied American Sign Language with the intent of becoming an ASL-English Interpreter. Daniel is an avid runner having competed with success in high school and college; he has completed four marathons in three states and on two continents.

Sharon Murphy

Sharon recently returned to her native Lexington from Georgia and Ohio where she received her Master of Public Policy degree, with a concentration in Social Policy, from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. While in graduate school, she volunteered on President Obama’s 2012 campaign, and was a Fellow for Organizing for Action, a campaign focused on educating and enrolling people for the Affordable Care Act. Sharon has worked as a Voter Empowerment Organizer with KFTC. She recently completed Emerge Kentucky, an intensive, cohort-based seven-month training program that exists to change the face of Kentucky politics by identifying, training and encouraging Democratic women to run for office. Sharon is a part of the newly announced 2016 Class of the Kentucky Chapter of New Leaders Council, which recruits, trains and supports the next generation of progressive political entrepreneurs.

Russell Oliver

Perry County Alternate

Russell lives in Hazard, which is roughly the geographic center of Appalachia. He has been a long-time member of the Land Reform Committee and the Economic Justice Committee. He has lobbied at both the U.S. Capitol and the Kentucky General Assembly. He is involved in a wide variety of community activities in Hazard.

Serena Owen

Northern Kentucky Chapter Alternate

Serena's 'calling' in life is to help others. She currently serves as a Governor appointed Citizen Representative on a KY State Board and has served Kentucky communities as a humanitarian in various leadership roles for over 20 years! She earned her Master's of Art in Teaching from Northern Kentucky University, graduated from the Kenton County Government Academy, is an Emerge Kentucky Alumna, and is passionate about Equality, Voting Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Fairness, Environmental Justice, and improving the quality of life for all. Serena is a current recipient of the Northern KY Chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth's "Standing Up for Justice" Award for her community advocacy as well as initiatives like Outstanding Service Awards and Community Hero Awards that she and her husband US Marine Veteran & KFTC member Larry Owen created and began presenting to encourage and thank those who go above and beyond the call of duty to give back to the community. Serena promotes self-improvement, good character, professional development, citizenship, equality, civil rights, and community investment. Her words of wisdom and favorite charge to her students/mentees are "Follow the Golden Rule." and "Represent!" 

Lee Ann Paynter

Wilderness Trace Alternate

Lee Ann is an adjunct professor of Art and New Media at the University of Kentucky, and at BCTC. She is a Kentucky native who was born and raised in Boyle County. After ten years of a successful music business career in Los Angeles, she moved home to pursue her education and her dream of being an artist. She holds a BFA from the University of Kentucky, and an MFA in Photography and Media from CalArts.

She is passionate about equality and the environment, and in fact found KFTC doing an internet search on mountaintop removal. In spring of 2011, anticipating a return home from California and wanting to do something positive for her home state, she joined KFTC sight unseen while doing that internet research, and became a sustaining giver right away. Lee Ann is a founding member of the Wilderness Trace chapter who currently lives in Danville, in the house where she grew up. She spends her spare time playing with her cat Bella and planning the next party or fundraiser.

Nancy Reinhart

Shelby County Alternate

Nancy is mother to two amazing little persons, Maitreya and Anjali, and partner to her best friend, Dave. She has worked in public health in eastern Kentucky for close to a decade both with KFTC and then Frontier Nursing. She's a member of the KFTC chapter in Shelby County.

Carl Shoupe

Harlan County Alternate

Carl Shoupe is a long-time member from Harlan County who is a leader in the local chapter and has served several years on the KFTC Steering Committee. He is a former miner, mine worker organizer and Vietnam veteran. He was a major part of the planning for the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference and is actively involved in organizing projects to follow up on the ideas and momentum from that event.

Sharon Murphy, Central Kentucky

Kim Walters, Big Sandy

Eric Dixon, Letcher County