Sara Day Evans

SaraDay10-2015Sara Day Evans, Founding Director for Accelerating Appalachia and Co-Founder of Prosperity Collective, is a sixth generation Kentuckian, and has worked with communities and small businesses across the southeast for over 20 years. She’s served over 300 communities and small businesses in economic development, entrepreneurship and environmental protection and leveraged over $250M in funding in service to the southeast and Appalachian region. She was awarded a presidential commendation from Bill Clinton for her work in the health and livelihood of women living in Appalachian Kentucky through her clean water efforts. With degrees in Geology/Hydrogeology and a background in water law, she was instrumental in developing Kentucky’s groundwater protection programs and later developed Kentucky’s first ongoing solid waste management fund, resulting in an 85% reduction in illegal dumping and a 25% increase in recycling. She served western North Carolina’s hardest hit counties by developing sustainable economy plans that fit with the people and place of the region and created North Carolina’s Green Economy Resources Directory. She’s particularly proud of the program she developed and implemented to install clean energy systems on farms in western NC’s high-unemployment counties while also training high school and community college students in clean energy installation.  In 2011, Sara Day co-founded the social enterprise Prosperity Collective and inspired by the textile, farming, forest products skills of Appalachians, the expanding world of social entrepreneurs and investing for good, she launched Accelerating Appalachia in 2012 to serve nature-based businesses in Appalachia and beyond. For most of her life, Sara Day has been a singer/songwriter and guitarist, performing and also producing exceptional house concerts for good causes. Her most profound influencers are her parents, her children and her lifelong friends, Wendell and Mary Berry.



Kimberly Hunter

Kimberly smerk Kimberly Hunter serves as the Program Facilitator for Accelerating Appalachia. Kimberly is a seasoned and vibrant entrepreneur whose passion is to develop people in businesses that will last a lifetime.  Kimberly started her career in the business of fashion and quickly grew into corporate management for a OTC (over the counter)  public holding corporation with varied holdings.  Miss Hunter “cut her teeth” in the business world by having to grow businesses that had no marketplace similarities other than the businesses were in trouble and they needed to be turned around quickly.  As a result of having to successfully manage multiple businesses with competing needs in a traditional corporate setting, Kimberly has found her niche as president and chief strategist of Prolific Consulting, llc,  a company focused on turning around small and mid-size companies around the world who seek to be relevant, solvent and scalable in an ever-changing local global economy.
Besides her work as a strategist, Kimberly has recently founded vertical apparel manufacturing to retail business focused on creating jobs and providing smaller scale production for emerging designers across the country.  Miss Hunter believes it  is  vital to balance priorities of family and work.  In her “balancing time”, she loves to spend time with people, laugh, travel, get into funny predicaments, sing, sew, and experience the outdoors.

Jennifer Flynn

Jennifer Flynn, C.O.O.Jennifer Flynn, C.O.O of Accelerating Appalachia. Jennifer is a former owner of a natural products company, current Brand Manager for the North Carolina Natural Products Association’s Blue Ridge Naturally program, 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.


Elishewa Shalom

Elishewa ShalomElishewa joins Accelerating Appalachia as our Creative Assistant. Elishewa has worked in the natural products industry since 2003 and is passionate about growing businesses that are good for people and the planet. She is a photographer producing Natureflections, a line of photography cards printed on hemp-recycled paper and is very keen about hemp’s uses and environmental benefits, and in spring 2012 began a hobby research project making 100% hemp paper. She is a guest lecturer in the Oregon State University industrial hemp course on the topic of hemp paper. Elishewa is currently living in Kentucky to work with the re-emerging hemp industry and continues studies in ethnobotany, helping connect people and nature.