SaraDay Evans, the CEO and Founding Director of Accelerating Appalachia, is a sixth-generation Kentuckian with over 20 years of experience supporting communities and small businesses across the southeast. Her remarkable work in economic development, entrepreneurship, and environmental protection has leveraged over $270 million in funding and served more than 300 communities in the southeast and central-southern Appalachian region. SaraDay was honored with a U.S. Presidential commendation for her clean water efforts, specifically benefiting women in Appalachian Kentucky.

With degrees in Geology/Hydrogeology from the University of Kentucky and further studies in Water Law at the University of Missouri, SaraDay has led groundbreaking initiatives. She played a key role in developing Kentucky’s groundwater protection programs and securing funding for solid waste management. Additionally, she spearheaded North Carolina’s 21st Century program, revitalizing production and manufacturing in textiles, farming, and wood products. In 2013, SaraDay launched Accelerating Appalachia, a globally recognized organization driving regenerative and equitable development. Her lifelong Echoing Green fellowship, alongside individuals like Michelle Obama and her Common Future fellowship, attests to her exceptional leadership. SaraDay’s multifaceted journey also encompasses her passion for music, where she captivates audiences as a singer/songwriter and guitarist. Her profound impact continues to shape a brighter future for communities, regional businesses, and the environment.



Le’Shae Robinson is passionate about people and nature. Her journey began at Berea College, where she witnessed the power of integrating students into the college farm, providing food for the community. This experience ignited her passion for growing food, feeding people, and caring for the land.

In 2019, through her marketing and operational expertise at NoLi CDC, she kept people at the forefront of her work at The Night Market. The nonprofit went on to bring over $1 million into the pockets of underserved entrepreneurs on the northside of Lexington. Her commitment continued as she helped launch The Julietta Market, empowering emerging entrepreneurs, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Le’Shae is proud to continue to have an impact on people and nature through her work as the Chief Communications Officer at Accelerating Appalachia. She works alongside Director, SaraDay Evans, specifically on social media campaigns, press releases, video content and so much more.

Christy Reaves is a visionary financial leader with an unwavering passion for creating lasting impact. With a remarkable career spanning over two decades, she has honed her expertise in finance, strategic management, and resource development within both nonprofit and small business sectors. She has actively served on the boards of numerous organizations in Central and Eastern Kentucky including Midway Museum, Paramount Arts Center and CASA of Boyd County. Her work as the Founding Director and President of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program earned her two state-wide awards leaving an enduring impact on the lives of abused and neglected children. 

She is driven by her father’s belief to “leave it better than you found it.” As she engages with Accelerating Appalachia and its mission, her Eastern Kentucky roots allow her the perspective of the intrinsic beauty of the land and people of Appalachia. She is honored to support the legacy of this part of America’s heritage. 

However, we take inquiries for businesses who are seeking guidance and investment year-round! If you have any questions, please contact Sara Day Evans,


Is your business a fit?… 

Accelerating Appalachia connects nature-based businesses from the rural and urban hubs of central and southern Appalachia to help expand their customer base, supply chains, peer, mentor and potential investor network. Nature-based businesses and entrepreneurs in the following sectors are encouraged to apply:

  • Farming
  • Food
  • Forest products (natural building) and non-timber forest products (ginseng, mushrooms, fruit & nut trees)
  • Fiber/Textiles
  • Botanicals/Wellness
  • Other innovative triple bottom-line businesses with special consideration for innovators and entrepreneurs from marginalized populations.

We are particularly excited to announce our partnership with Kiva Zip. Kiva is a platform that crowdfunds micro loans and is offering 0% interest loans up to $10,000 to farmers in the United States and gives the business incredible exposure. Businesses in the agriculture industry can have difficulty fitting within the terms of formal banking institutions; Kiva better meets the needs of farmers and their financial needs.



Sara Day Evans, a sixth generation Kentuckian, tells the story of the people and places that inspired her to found Accelerating Appalachia, a new business accelerator that is nurturing natural and entrepreneurial capital to appropriately scale a post-extractive, regenerative economy in coal country.

Read more in the Capital Institute: Field Guide for Investing in a Regenerative Economy.

field guide






                                              – Sara Day Evans



Accelerating Appalachia’s 2013 crop of nature-based businesses are presenting their plans for the future on Monday, December 9, and you’re invited. Join us for a night of exciting presentations, excellent networking, and good old fashioned fun. The Venture Forum will be emceed by Entremanureship, along with a bit of entertainment from Joel Schantz. Your ticket ($15 each) includes access to all the presentations, heavy hors d’oeuvres and two drink tickets. Don’t miss this chance to hear some of our region’s most exciting entrepreneurs share their vision of the future – reserve your ticket now. Details:

Accelerating Appalachia Venture Forum

Monday, December 9, 2013
5 – 8 pm

Highland Brewing Company
12 Old Charlotte Highway
Asheville, NC 28803

John Moore is the Chief Data Officer at Accelerating Appalachia and owner and operator of Appalachian Data Systems LLC. John has built and maintains comprehensive databases for freight and logistics companies, schools, healthcare providers, and nonprofits. He is a Meta certified database engineer, IBM trained data scientist and is certified in Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Corporate Finance, and Financial Modeling with the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. He is proficient with Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, SQL, Python, and Airtable, and his skills include statistical analysis, probabilistic and financial modeling, and modular web design. When John isn’t programming databases, he spends his time designing new antennas for his amateur radio station and hanging out with his pekin ducks.

Accelerating Appalachia has been receiving heightened attention recently after being featured on Triple Pundit, a major news source for triple bottom line community. The article, posted on June 6, 2013 quickly climbed up to be the #1 trending article on the news site and has received almost 150 “likes” on Facebook and nearly 40 “tweets” on Twitter.

Below is a link to the article:

Triple Pundit long

Triple Pundit focuses on companies that make decisions with the planet, people, and profits in mind.

Accelerating Appalachia was featured in Triple Pundit, an innovative new-media company for the business community that cultivates awareness and understanding of the triple bottom line. By exclusively developing social entrepreneurs in nature-based companies, Accelerating Appalachia is helping to heighten the standard in which people operate businesses. Consumers have raised the bar in the quality and integrity of the products and services they use and Accelerating Appalachia is serving business owners and operators who are answering that demand with innovative answers.

Triple Pundit long

Triple Pundit focuses on companies that make decisions with the planet, people, and profits in mind.



Accelerating Appalachia was recently featured in the Upstart Business Journal, as one of seven business accelerators in the United States that are located outside of the traditional technology hubs on the East and West coasts.


The Upstart Business Journal is the news source for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, innovators, and forward-thinking corporate executives.