Jennifer is Accelerating Appalachia’s former C.O.O. and now advisor to the program. Before her recent move to Michigan, she worked and lived in North Carolina as the owner of a natural products company and the former brand manager for the North Carolina Natural Products Association’s Blue Ridge Naturally program. She is an ecopsychologist and permaculturist with 15+ years experience in working to connect people to their place through community development, one-on-one advising, and small business consulting in rural WNC. She is also an artist and an herbalist by training and loves connecting with plants for healing.

Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, environmental activistcultural critic, and farmer.[1] A prolific author, he has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.[2] On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

bell hooks,[1] is an American author, feminist, and social activist. The name “bell hooks” is derived from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.[2]

The focus of hooks’s writing has been the intersectionality of racecapitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She has published over 30 books and numerous scholarly articles, appeared in documentary films, and participated in public lectures. Primarily through a postmodern perspective, she has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism.[3] In 2014, she founded the bell hooks institute at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.[4]

Dayna Reggero, Climate Listening Project

dayna photo 2Dayna Reggero was the Communications Principal for the launch of Accelerating Appalachia. She has been interviewed by CNN, appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX networks around the nation and coordinated with Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery and the Food Network for features. She produced a Sustainable Food Tour and traveled from the top of California to the bottom in a Chevy Volt to film organic farms, biodynamic wineries, sustainable food producers and celebrities for features on Discovery and NPR. She was thrilled to collaborate with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign for the amazing new international docu-series Years of Living Dangerously. And, Dayna was honored to coordinate the Environmental Paper Network’s #WhatsInYourPaper viral campaign with 120 nonprofit organizations around the world. She is currently creator and producer of the Climate Listening Project. Full bio:


Soody Tronson, Soody Tronson Law Group Founder and Principal

Soody is the founder and principal at STLGIP, a boutique intellectual property firm located in Silicon Valley. Prior to starting STLGIP, Soody practiced law as IP Counsel at Heller Ehrman as well as Townsend and Townsend and in-house at the Hewlett-Packard Company. She was General Counsel and Vice President of Intellectual Property at a successfully acquired medical device startup company. Prior to starting her legal career, Soody spent several years in the industry holding technical and management positions at companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Schering-Plough Corporation. Soody is actively involved in educational and non-profit organizations including a mentor with the LES Graduate School Business Plan Competition, an advisor with Astia, and an advisor and expert in residence at the C4Cube Venture Accelerator (C4Cube). Soody instructs courses in IP and licensing at the University of California and is a mentor with several entrepreneurship-focused courses/programs at Stanford University. Soody holds a J.D. and M.S., and is licensed to practice before the State of California and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Lynn Allen is President and founder of Capital Innovations.  She brings to her role an exceptional record of success in developing new sources of capital for people, projects, and companies that generate new jobs and economic opportunities for their communities.

She has successfully led efforts in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors to increase investments in education and job creation.  As director of institutional marketing for AEGON and an advisor to the college savings market, Lynn developed new products that broadened the number of families that could invest in their children’s education.  The Wall Street Journal described these new products as “remarkable”. Under her leadership, AEGON captured 60% market share of “stable value” college savings products.

After forging CARE’s first global partnerships that launched its Girls Education Initiative worldwide and expanded its capacity to introduce micro-enterprise programs, Lynn was selected as CARE International’s first director of international initiatives. Under her leadership, CARE staff in North America, Europe and Asia established new private sources of support in 15 countries and forged first-time partnerships with the world’s futures and options industry as well as global companies such as Procter & Gamble, Bloomberg, and Cargill.

In 2003 Lynn turned her capital raising and strategic partnering expertise to the new economy.  Since then, Capital Innovations has developed new place-based seed, venture and angel funds to support and accelerate the growth of young, high potential companies. Capital Innovations also has forged partnerships between and among private equity funds, universities, research parks, business incubators, and regional EB-5 centers that increased capital investment in local job creating initiatives.

Lynn holds a Master in International Management from Denver University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Kentucky.  She has been a frequent guest speaker at investment industry conferences and given national television interviews on CNN and CNBC.  She was a founding board member of Gilda’s Club Louisville and has served as an advisor to several young, high growth companies, including Associates in Pediatric Therapy, BYNDL, and RhinoCyte.  She has served as a board advisor to the Kentucky Energy Sector Partnership, The Enterprise Corp, The Launch Place Fund and Purdue’s Emerging Innovations Fund.

Jeffrey Schmitt, Interim Executive Director, The Heart of the Healer Foundation

Schmitt,  Jeffrey D 0911Jeff Schmitt enjoys a rich life filled with community, science, music, art, and family. Jeff is an enthusiastic advocate for indigenous healing and wisdom traditions. As both a noted scientist and practitioner of Peruvian Folk medicine, he seeks to build bridges of understanding. Jeff is a challenging and evocative speaker/storyteller; in 2011 he presented the first TEDx talk on Ayahuasca – inspired by his life-changing sojourn with the Secoya people of the Northern Amazon rainforest.He did his undergraduate work at Wake Forest University followed by graduate work at the University of Bath and Oxford University.

Jeff holds adjunct professorships at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Biochemistry, Physiology-Pharmacology. He is the Director of Research for the Center for Integrative Medicine at Wake Forest. He is a founding member of numerous companies including Targacept, Inc. where he led the development of simulation technology to make the process of drug discovery more efficient. Jeff has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications, patents and abstracts, and been  on the editorial advisory boards of 6 international journals. He is the founding research director of the Bent Creek Institute of the University of North Carolina.

Jeff founded and directed the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative at Wake Forest School of Medicine. He also devotes his time to organizations serving the greater good and has been a board member of 5 non-profit organizations. He is also a Chinese martial Arts expert. Despite a rich career in the life sciences, Jeff has over the years collaborated with numerous American and European artists, including ex-King Crimson drummer Michael Giles, LA sound artist Rhan Small, rap artist and spoken-word poet Cactus and members of Medeski, Martin and Wood. A stint with metal sculpture led to Jeff winning the Savannah College of Art ‘Savannah 3D’ invitational in 1986. Jeff and his musical collaborators composed music for the Aban Elved dance company 1994-2005, leading to collaborations in England, USA and Germany. Jeff is also a founding member of the Wheel Theater Company led by Juilliard and Moscow Art Theater artist Felix Ivanov. Finally, while in Europe, Jeff was a founding member of the Bio*Art collaborative, a group of philosophers, scientists and artists working together to foster an esthetic appreciation of scientific discovery. Their work led to a Royal Society exhibition as well as the first musical compositions based on the 3-dimensional structure of proteins.


Flanders-Stec. Lou AnneSmallLou Anne Flanders-Stec, Assistant Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, High Point University. She was previously the EVP – Strategic Initiatives for LiveCargo, Inc. an early stage company providing anytime, anywhere access to their digital media and user-generated content for individuals and companies alike. She has over 20 years experience in the financial management arena, including many years
working in and with early stage companies. Working for a family publishing and fundraising
business as the accountant and office manager provided the entrepreneurial foundation for her later positions.
After leaving the “family fold”, she began working in finance and treasury roles for manufacturing companies. The first being financial manager for a poultry processor, where her first job was building budgets for a sales division. This financial position transitioned to sales administration where the importance of inter-department communication became obvious. Her next move was to a hat manufacturer as their Finance Director with day to day involvement in treasury and cash management. This company, owned by a LBO firm, was grown through mergers & acquisitions, and was highly leveraged providing a new outlook. Being responsible for cash, and the integration of all acquisitions provided great insight in the world of mergers & acquisitions, which also
led her into the arena of venture capital.
Upon her arrival in NYC, she worked in a large corporate environment, and got “lost in the shuffle”. That is when a new venture capital firm called. The work as CFO for the VC as well as the process of setting the firm up provided valuable experience in the equity investing arena. These lessons provided the needed insight to work as a CFO of a start-up company in the late 90’s that was a tragedy of the bomb. Leveraging the experience and knowledge from prior positions provided the necessary skills for a smooth transition to the Piedmont Angel Network. A fully-invested angel fund with $4.5 million in
committed capital and 79 members, the network completed 11 investments in just over four years and continues to provide follow-on funding for those companies. LiveCargo, Inc. was a PAN One portfolio company, so the move to assist them with their fund-raising and strategic issues was been an easy transition.
She has her MBA in Finance from the University of North Texas and her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University. She was previously on the Board of Advisors for the Angel Capital Association, North America’s professional alliance of angel groups, and the Finance Committee for the Greensboro Children’s Museum and currently serves as a Board and Finance Committee Member for the Eastern Music Festival as well as Treasurer and Board Member for Selah Spiritual Formation. She was named one of the Piedmont Triad’s 50 Most Influential People for two years.

Catherine Covington, RSF Social Finance

Catherine Covington is a senior program associate in Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance in San Francisco, CA.  RSF is a philanthropic and financial services organization focused on providing capital to non-profit and for-profit social enterprises addresses key issues in the areas of Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship.  At RSF, Catherine manages grantmaking services and is a member of the business development team, helping attract new investors, donors and borrowers while spreading the word about RSF’s innovative work.  Prior to joining RSF 3 years ago, Catherine spent most of her career in philanthropy and has worked for both public charities and private foundations facilitating global and domestic grantmaking and providing advisory services to a wide variety of clients.

Catherine Covington

Catherine Covington

Justin Belleme, JB Media

Justin has been providing web design, online marketing strategies and consulting services to clients in the Asheville area and beyond for over 10 years. His specializations are search engine optimization, social media strategy, website monetization, and online marketing. He also has significant experience in online publicity, website design, viral marketing, computer programming, and video production. Justin possesses both business acumen and a high level understanding of Internet technology. Justin launched JB Media Group in April of 2011 and has grown the company from 3 part time employees to in 2011 to 8 full time and 3 part time employees in 2013. In 2013 JB Media Group launched a comprehensive online marketing training program called the JB Media Institute.

Justin Belleme