DR. THERESA BURRISS (SHE/HER) Theresa Burriss serves as the immediate past ASD Board Chair. Born and raised in Bristol, TN, Theresa serves as the Director of Appalachian Studies and the Appalachian Regional & Rural Studies Center at Radford University.
Along with her husband, Dr. James L. Werth, Jr., two sons, Paul and Campbell, and various domestic and wild animals, Theresa lives in Washington County, VA, on Gwendolyn Ridge, a forest farm, where she enjoys running, hiking, and kayaking. In fall 2021, she received a Fulbright Teaching & Research grant to Romania, teaching Appalachian literature at Transilvania University in Brasov and conducting ethnographic research in the Jiu Valley, Romania’s coalmining region, to engage in cross-cultural participatory action research between Romania and Central Appalachia.
Jim is a founding member of ASD and also serves on many other Boards of Directors, including The Crooked Road, Coalfield Water Development Fund and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority. Jim, a native of Honaker, Virginia, graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia with a B.A. degree in Government and is married with two grown children and five grandchildren. He and his wife Kathy live near Emory, Virginia.
BEN CASTEEL A native of Appalachia, Ben grew up in Bristol, VA and spent his youth mostly outdoors. In 2006, Ben took a break from his studies of horticulture at Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
The journey changed his life and he began to further pursue an education in agriculture and adventure. This pursuit caused him to travel to central Arizona where he studied adventure education and agroecology because he figured “if you can grow it in the desert, you can grow it anywhere.” He traveled throughout the western states, but his heart lay in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. After growing organic produce and flowers to sell at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market with his business Appalachian Wildside, everything came full circle. Ben became the first greenhouse manager at VHCC and began teaching horticulture full-time in 2014. In 2017, he finished his Masters in Agriculture and Life Science through Virginia Tech and now serves as the program coordinator for Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as teaching a full load of horticulture courses.
DR. HEATHER CHAMPNEY (SHE/HER) Heather Champney serves as ASD’s Board Chair and is a Johnson City, TN native, who returned to the area after college to attend medical school at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine.
She met her husband in medical school and they decided to make the area their home. Heather is a pediatrician in the Niswonger Pediatric Emergency Room. Heather has a passion for teaching children and their families about healthy lifestyle choices and is involved in a number of school and community-based initiatives that promote fitness, gardening, and healthy eating, including running a small flower farm with a team of middle schoolers. She and her husband stay busy with their four children, two cats, two dogs and they enjoy working on their new home farm.
STEPHEN COLLINS Stephen Collins currently manages procurement and cost control for a fortune 500 globally recognized casino and hotel corporation. After a 17 year career as a chef, he stepped into the world of procurement and logistics for Seminole Hard Rock Support Services (corporate office) with an open mind to expand his knowledge in the hospitality industry.
Stephen aspires to grow his career path through community networking and building solid partnerships while gaining further knowledge in the food and beverage, agriculture, and hospitality groups within our community. He enjoys sharing what he knows to assist with overall community standings for minority businesses, local community growth, and non-profit organizations that always deserve to be in the forefront of our state/federal grant opportunities. He has been blessed enough to travel the globe and also visit family and friends in numerous countries. Being cultured and having a good understanding of diversity and inclusion is an important part of Stephen’s life and self-growth. A native Virginian that grew up on a farm on the Eastern Shore at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Stephen helped his parents and grandparents on black walnut and pecan orchards that shaped the importance of hard work into his soul. He also worked on the water; fish trapping, clamming, crab potting and helping harvest oysters with local captains. Stephen and Jon (his partner of 17 years), share a home with their four-legged kids – rescue dogs Gus and Pam.
JOHN GIFFORD John is ASD’s Board Secretary and was born in Louisville, Kentucky and grew up in Morganton, North Carolina. He graduated from Duke University and earned his law degree at Washington and Lee University.
He came to Southwest Virginia in 1982 to work with the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, representing low-income clients with issues involving public benefits and consumer law. From 1997 until his retirement in 2019, John practiced with Browning, Lamie and Gifford in Abingdon, Virginia, representing clients in workers’ compensation, Social Security and bankruptcy matters. John also serves on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society. He is an avid runner and bicyclist who enjoys an annual week-long cycling trek through the mountains of Appalachia.
EARL GOHL Earl joined the ASD board in 2019 and has 45 years of experience in state, local and Federal governments as both an elected and appointed official, serving three Governors, a Mayor, State Senator two, Federal Labor Secretaries and two Presidents.
He was an elected member of the Harrisburg City Council for 7 years; he was appointed by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the US Senate to serve Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission a position he held for eight years. As Federal Co Chair he initiated a 3 state tour to highlight the important role that local foods can play in local economies and he implemented the local foods local places program to support local efforts that were featuring local foods as part of a communities economy.
ANTOINETTE GOODRICH Most of Antoinette Goodrich’s professional career has been with Coastal Heritage Society in Savannah, Georgia. After moving to Marion, Virginia with her husband Bill, they established Laughing Water Farm along with their children Eleanor and Alfred.
Antoinette encourages you to follow your heart and dreams if they lead to farming. Even without formal experience she has found a wealth of generous help and encouragement from ASD and other farm support organizations as well as a warm and welcoming community of farmers. She says the best part of her day is time spent on the farm among neighbors and loving members of the community. She is so grateful to find herself sharing labor, joys and concerns in a vibrant community which could be straight out of Wendell Berry’s fiction.
After a year detour to the Charleston School of Law, Trevor decided to follow his heart and enlist in the United States Air Force where he served 13 years as a member of Air Force Special Tactics. During his service, Trevor completed four deployments and numerous overseas assignments where he earned the Bronze Star with Valor (1st Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal, and Air Force Combat Action Medal. He was also named the 2011 “Airman of the Year” for Joint-Base Lewis McChord, Washington. After separating from the military in December of 2020, Trevor moved with his family to Southwest Virginia to pursue his dream of owning and operating a sustainable farm. He is currently enrolled in the Horticulture Program at Virginia Highlands Community College and working to lay the foundation for his farm enterprise.
Jake earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance while attending King College and the University of South Florida where he graduated with Cum Laude honors. He has 17 years of experience in the financial services industry in the East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region. Jake’s commercial banking experience includes structuring and managing all sizes of real estate, construction and asset-based credit facilities as well as providing overall management to large corporate, municipal and small business relationships. He has been inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. He lives in Kingsport, TN with his wife, Amy and two children, Camden and Paislee. In his spare time, Jake enjoys spending time with his family, practicing a healthy lifestyle, outdoor recreation, gardening and playing guitar.
LINDSAY HENSLEY Lindsay Hensley joined the ASD board of directors in 2019 and works in Public Affairs at Eastman in Kingsport, TN. In her current role, she collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to promote sustainability both at Eastman and its site communities.
Lindsay obtained her Master’s Degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech’s Center of Leadership in Global Sustainability in 2021. Her undergraduate studies included Hospitality and Tourism Management and Marketing Management from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. A Lee County, Virginia native, Lindsay now resides in Kingsport with her husband and two tiny humans.
DR. STEVEN HOPP Steven is broadly trained in the life sciences and received his Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from Indiana University. He moved to SWVA in 1984 to teach at Emory and Henry College and has been tied to this region ever since.
He taught Ornithology courses at the University of Arizona from 1994 to 2004 and then moved back to Virginia full time. Steven now teaches courses in sustainable agriculture and wildlife management in the Environmental Studies program at Emory and Henry. Steven has studied different species of Vireos for over 25 years and focusses his main interest in their vocal behavior. He has broadly also studied their life history strategies, breeding ecology and behavior on their wintering grounds. More recently, Steven has become interested in sustainable agriculture and is a co-author of the national best-selling book, Animal Vegetable Miracle, with his wife, Barbara Kingsolver. The book is about local food systems and sustainable agriculture. He is founder and director of The Meadowview Farmers’ Guild, a community development project devoted to promoting local products, with an emphasis on agriculture. Part of this project is the Harvest Table Restaurant, a nationally recognized farm-to-table restaurant that is one of the most dedicated to local food sourcing in the eastern United States. He has served on the board of ASD since 2005 and lives in Meadowview, VA on a mostly wooded farm with Icelandic Sheep and Dexter Cattle.
DIRK MOORE Dirk has worked at Emory & Henry for more than 27 years, beginning as a member of the faculty in the Mass Communications Department before joining the College administration’s Executive Council as director of public relations and later becoming executive director of the McGlothlin Center for the Arts.
Dirk has worked at Emory & Henry for more than 27 years, beginning as a member of the faculty in the Mass Communications Department before joining the College administration’s Executive Council as director of public relations and later becoming executive director of the McGlothlin Center for the Arts. His work has been recognized with numerous awards from the Tri-Cities Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, and he was awarded the prestigious 2015 Silver Award by the American Advertising Federation of Southwest Virginia. Active in the community, Moore is the founder and past president of Project Glade, a nonprofit development organization in Glade Spring, Virginia, and co-founder and former assistant director of the Glade Spring Farmers Market. He has served on the Glade Spring Town Council and the Glade Spring Planning Commission. In 2013, he was named Glade Spring’s Citizen of the Year. Moore is also the owner of Blue Hills Market, a health food store located in Abingdon Virginia.
In 2015, he was honored by the United Way of Southwest Virginia with the Volunteer of the Year Award. In that same year, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. At Emory & Henry, he has received The Hope Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the College and his community and the Maiden Award for achievement and distinctive contributions to the College. Moore holds a master of arts degree from the University of Florida and bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and governmental affairs from Augustana College.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. He has since worked at Strongwell as a cost accountant for Virginia operations and staff accountant for the corporate office. John lives near King College in Bristol, TN with his partner, Katie and dog, Sophie. They all enjoy hiking some of the most beautiful trails this area has to offer.
JASON WILLIS Jason Willis is an energetic marketing professional with a record of developing, leading, and executing an array of goal-oriented, successful marketing efforts for a vast spectrum of clients and projects.
Currently he is the Senior Traffic Director for Creative Services at Sam Brown, Inc. Healthcare Communications. Previously, he worked with Six Rivers Media (owners of the Johnson City Press and Kingsport Times News) as the Creative Director for their commercial agency. Outside of work, Jason is also a community organizer and is a founding member and current Board of Directors President of TriPride, a community non-profit that produces an annual LGBTQ+ pride parade and festival held in the Tri-Cities, Tenn. In addition to the annual event, the organization works to empower the LGBTQ+ community and build bridges between other local organizations and the LGBTQ+ community. He previously served as the Marketing Chair. A native of southwest Virginia, Jason is a 2007 graduate from Emory & Henry College where he majored in Fine Art with a minor in Visual Communications. Some passions include music, photography, gardening and plants, nature documentaries, and a good bourbon. He lives with his fiancé Mason in Kingsport, TN.
SCOTT N. WILSON Scott was born and raised in Brandywine Hundred, Delaware and moved to Abingdon Virginia in 1995. A graduate from Virginia Tech with a BS in Civil Engineering, he is also a registered professional engineer, licensed in six states.
He serves as a senior project manager at Thompson & Litton, a full-service architecture and engineering firm. Scott’s professional work includes hundreds of projects, most notably: Village at Oakview (affordable housing), Bristol Train Station Renovation, Whites Mill Renovation, SWVA Higher Education Center, Alpha Natural Resources HQ and the Russell County Courthouse. He has been active with many civic organizations including: 24 years with the Rotary Club of Abingdon, 10 years with the Washington County Public Library Building Committee, and as a founding member of Advance Abingdon (Main Street Program). Scott enjoys hiking, swimming, cultivating fruit trees, growing hot peppers, playing guitar and learning Spanish. He has been married to his wife Judy for 33 years and they have three children.
“Whether the crop is multiple sections of cotton/soybeans or a small acreage of vegetables, eggs or pastured meats, the risks are many and the certainties, few.” She was raised in Plainview, TX, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and now lives in Abingdon, VA. Janet’s farm experience is “just rural enough to count”, consisting of ten years on the North Folk of the Holston River where she raised dairy goats, hogs, meat rabbits, two children and maintained a vast garden. With experiences from teaching 9th grade English to owning a yarn shop called ‘A Likely Yarn’ on Pecan St. in Abingdon, Janet currently serves several groups in the area, including Barter Theatre and Town of Abingdon (Infrastructure and Tourism Committees).
JOBETH WRIGHT JoBeth Wright was raised in Grundy and moved to Abingdon, VA in 2000, where she completed high school. JoBeth earned a BS degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from East Tennessee State University.
She is currently working towards a Master of Social Work degree from ETSU. She has worked at a variety of mental health companies, helping low-income individuals as a Mental health skill builder; teaching people with mental health disorders how to budget, use coping skills, communicate with doctors, etc. JoBeth has also mentored teenage children and been a volunteer coordinator for a hospice provider. She has worked for Aetna better health of Virginia (a Medicaid organization) for 5 years. Previously, as a Community Health Worker covering all of SWVA, she helped clients connect to a variety of resources. Today, a SWVA Community Development Analysis for Aetna, she helps communities have better social determinates of health by working with non-profits and other resource providers.