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.

Carl Shoupe


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.

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

At-large Representative

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.

Chapter Representatives

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.

Gwen Johnson

Letcher County Representative

Gwen was born and raised in the Hemphill coal camp of Letcher County. She raised two daughters in the nearby Neon area before returning to school and receiving an Associates from SKCTC, Bachelors from Pikeville College, and Masters from Goddard College. Gwen currently works for the University of Kentucky as KY River Child Care Aware Training Coordinator. She serves the Hemphill Community Center as a board member and active volunteer, as well as on the LKLP Head Start Health Advisory Board, Eastern Streams Community Early Childhood Counsel Steering Committee, and the United 4 Kids Community Early Childhood Counsel Steering Committee. Gwen is also the "Hemphillbilly" every other Sunday from 1-4 p.m. on WMMT-FM 88.7. 

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.

Nina McCoy

Big Sandy Representative

A resident of Inez, Kentucky, Nina has fought against mountaintop removal for almost two decades.  She is a national board certified Biology teacher who has worked for 30 years to pass along her love for the amazing diversity of this mountain ecosystem to the next generation through her work with the Sheldon Clark High School Environmental Club, KFTC, Big Sandy Watershed Watch and the ACHE (Appalachian Community Health Emergency) Act.   

Meta Mendel-Reyes

Madison County Representative

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 Representative

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 short-cut ever.  

Russell Oliver

Perry County Representative

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.

Lee Ann Paynter

Wilderness Trace Representative

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.

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.

Christian Torp

Central Kentucky Representative

Christian came to Kentucky in 2002 to attend UK College of Law from rural New York after a road trip with a college friend he was visiting who’s folks had moved to West Virginia, “hey, let’s go to Kentucky...” After hearing glowing things about KFTC over the years he found his entry point at Singing For Democracy and hasn’t looked back. In his time at KFTC Christian has developed a real passion for the people of Kentucky and the issues of KFTC. Self described as a lawyer/activist he is heavily involved in both the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining and the restoration of voting rights for former felons and he is indebted to KFTC. Christian is proud to serve our members in Central Kentucky and be a part of this new power!

Homer White

Scott County 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 Alternates

Rosanne Fitts Klarer, Scott County 

Sarah Martin, Central Kentucky

John Hennen, Rowan County 

Ben Baker, Northern Kentucky 

Nan Goheen, Jefferson County

Dora James and Jeanie Smith, Southern Kentucky

Clair Stines, Harlan County 

Katie Pirotina, Perry County

Daniel Morgan, Madison County

Herb Smith, Letcher County 

John Rosenberg, Big Sandy

Leah Bayens, Wilderness Trace

Leslie McBride, Shelby County