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

Immediate Past Chairperson

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.

Ryan Fenwick

At-Large Member

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.

Meta Mendel-Reyes

Vice Chairperson

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.

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.

Homer White


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 Representatives

Leslie Bebensee

Scott County Representative

Leslie has operated Kokovoko Breeding Farm for the past 26 years, raising Swedish Gotland ponies, Lincoln Longwool sheep, and poultry in Harrison County. She is passionate about social justice, equality, and restoring a healthy environment for future generations. She credits her single mom, a lifelong activist, for steering her toward working for the public good. She is the mother of two grown girls, and keeps busy managing the farm and with another small business selling wool and handspinning supplies. Leslie is a relative newcomer to KFTC, and calls the Scott Co. chapter home, hoping to expand its reach to Harrison County, too! In her spare time, she drives ponies competitively and volunteers for CASA.

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.

Lillian Prosperino

Letcher County Representative

Lillian is from Whitesburg, KY, and worked for KFTC in Fall of 2014 as a Voter Empowerment Organizer. She is now a substance abuse and mental health counselor in Letcher County who is finishing up her graduate degree, and is also the steering committee representative for the Letcher County Chapter. Lillian is interested in community development in Appalachia, as well as restoring voting and other rights to former felons. She spends her free time playing music, reading comic books, and cuddling with her 3 cats and miniature dachshund.

JoAnn Schwartz

Northern Kentucky Representative

Originally from Boone County but now living in Campbell, Leslie's family settled in KY over 200 years ago. She retired in March 2015 due to some health issues after a career of nursing in the fields of oncology and hospice. Just to keep life interesting, she also has an MA in Theology with an interest in world religions. Leslie has been very active in social justice most of her life, particularly in areas of housing and homelessness. She currently serves on the Economic Justice Committee.

She has been married for almost 40 years to her loving husband Paul. They have two children and three grandchildren. Reading and gardening have always been her passions. Ask her how her straw bale planting experiment is going.

Randy Wilson

Perry County Alternate

Randy is the folk arts director at the Hindman Settlement School where he has worked for the last quarter of a century bringing music, dance, and story telling to the eastern Kentucky community. He has been a member of KFTC for the same period, bringing the banjo to rallies in Frankfort and Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations in New York City. He has been a part of many cultural exchanges across this country, including visits with Latino communities in the Bronx, New York and in San Antonio, Texas; Native communities in Alaska; and Arab communities in Dearborn, Michigan. He has also participated in international cultural exchanges in Rome, Italy and mining communities in Colombia in South America. You may hear his Kid’s Radio streaming live from WMMT FM with songs and stories, plus special interviews on subjects ranging from wild salad greens to the history of the mountain dulcimer.


Sharon Murphy

Central Kentucky Alternate

Sharon recently returned to her native Lexington from Georgia and Ohio where she received her Master of Public Policy degree, with a concentration in Social Policy, from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. While in graduate school, she volunteered on President Obama’s 2012 campaign, and was a Fellow for Organizing for Action, a campaign focused on educating and enrolling people for the Affordable Care Act. Sharon has worked as a Voter Empowerment Organizer with KFTC. She recently completed Emerge Kentucky, an intensive, cohort-based seven-month training program that exists to change the face of Kentucky politics by identifying, training and encouraging Democratic women to run for office. Sharon is a part of the newly announced 2016 Class of the Kentucky Chapter of New Leaders Council, which recruits, trains and supports the next generation of progressive political entrepreneurs.

Serena Owen

Northern Kentucky Chapter Alternate

Serena's 'calling' in life is to help others. She currently serves as a Governor appointed Citizen Representative on a KY State Board and has served Kentucky communities as a humanitarian in various leadership roles for over 20 years! She earned her Master's of Art in Teaching from Northern Kentucky University, graduated from the Kenton County Government Academy, is an Emerge Kentucky Alumna, and is passionate about Equality, Voting Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Fairness, Environmental Justice, and improving the quality of life for all. Serena is a current recipient of the Northern KY Chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth's "Standing Up for Justice" Award for her community advocacy as well as initiatives like Outstanding Service Awards and Community Hero Awards that she and her husband US Marine Veteran & KFTC member Larry Owen created and began presenting to encourage and thank those who go above and beyond the call of duty to give back to the community. Serena promotes self-improvement, good character, professional development, citizenship, equality, civil rights, and community investment. Her words of wisdom and favorite charge to her students/mentees are "Follow the Golden Rule." and "Represent!" 

Nancy Reinhart

Shelby County Alternate

Nancy is mother to two amazing little persons, Maitreya and Anjali, and partner to her best friend, Dave. She has worked in public health in eastern Kentucky for close to a decade both with KFTC and then Frontier Nursing. She's a member of the KFTC chapter in Shelby County.

Kim Walters, Big Sandy

Roy Farley, Harlan County

Diane Guenthner, Jefferson County

Eric Dixon, Letcher County

Wendy Warren, Madison County

Allie Secor, Rowan County

Clare White, Scott County

Jeanie Smith, Southern Kentucky

Barbara Farley, Wilderness Trace