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


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.

Steve Boyce

Immediate Past Chair

Steve served many years as a math professor and administrator at Berea College. Now retired, he lives in Madison County with his wife, Patty. Before being elected to the Executive Committee, Steve served on the Steering Committee as the Madison County Chapter representative. He has worked extensively on economic and tax justice campaigns with KFTC, and is interested in green building and energy-related issues.

Megan Naseman


Megan lives in beloved Berea, Kentucky. As a college student, she was captivated by KFTC while working with Bev May to protect her holler in Floyd County. After graduating from Berea College, Megan thought she might be bound for the west coast; but at the end of one year in Seattle, she heard this Bluegrass State calling her back to what is now her home. She loves Kentucky and misses her very goofy family in Ohio. Besides working with KFTC, she finds great joy in baking pies, hiking, playing banjo and singing with the band Sugar Tree.

Carl Shoupe

At-large Representative

Carl Shoupe is a long-time member from Harlan County who is a leader in the local chapter and has served several years on the KFTC Steering Committee. He is a former miner, mine worker organizer and Vietnam veteran. He was a major part of the planning for the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference and is actively involved in organizing projects to follow up on the ideas and momentum from that event.

Suzanne Tallichet


Sue lives in Morehead and teaches Appalachian Sociology at Morehead State University. She became involved in KFTC after being inspired to by her students. "Democracy doesn't happen on its own," she has said. "As ordinary citizens we have to come together and make it happen." She has served as the Rowan County Chapter representative on the Steering Committee, as a member of the Land Reform Committee and Litigation Team, and as the Rowan County Chapter chair and publicity coordinator.

Chapter Representatives

Ben Baker

Northern Kentucky Representative

A lifelong resident of Northern Kentucky, Ben has been active with KFTC since 2009 and is a founding member of the Northern Kentucky Chapter. Upon seeing first-hand the devastating effects of mountaintop removal in Eastern Kentucky, Ben felt an urgent need to help protect his home state's environment and her residents. He now finds himself lobbying his legislators on many different issues and becoming more involved in the democratic process of the Commonwealth. In his free time Ben likes to hear live music, travel the backroads of Kentucky reading every historical marker, and pilot small aircraft.

Lisa Byrant

Rowan County Representative

With an ardor for learning, Lisa is obtaining a second degree in education from Morehead State. Fascinated by the physical sciences, she believes teaching children to observe, question, interact with, and understand the world in which they live will inspire the best hope for future generations.  She would love to move back home to her family's forested hills in Breathitt County to teach.  Lisa became involved with KFTC in 2009 and has worked with the steering committee, chapter fundraisers, fairness, and other local issues. 

Lisa has deep Appalachian roots and loves her heritage.  She keeps a weedy garden in the summer, is a cashier at Lowe’s, and works with her professor researching multicultural folktales.  She has two dogs: Maggie and Marigold, and enjoys hiking, pottery, cooking, and most of all spending time with loved ones.  Her favorite summer memory is backpacking to the natural arch near Gate Post Hill in Bath County, getting lost in the rain with a hydrophilic map, and accidentally finding the most convenient short-cut ever.  

Shekinah Lavalle

Jefferson County Representative

Shekinah was transplanted to Kentucky in 2000, and after living in a number of states, finally found a place that she wanted to call “home”. After meeting some folks from KFTC, she became enamored with their vision and their focus on positive, values-based change. She began working on Tax Reform with KFTC, helped to craft tax legislation through the Partnership for Kentucky's Future coalition, and joined the Economic Justice committee where she has served since 2010. Shekinah spends much of her free time talking about tax reform to anyone who will listen, trying to find excited new leaders to share their stories, and studying tax policy, tax structures and anything else pertaining to best economic practices. When she isn't working as a member, she can be found knitting, watching Star Trek or famously bad films, but usually, she's talking to someone about taxes.

Leslie McBride

Shelby County Representative

Leslie lives on a farm in Waddy. She was formerly an environmental attorney, but is now legal counsel for the Kentucky Housing Corporation.

"I grew up in a house where you might find an injured owl in the bathroom or baby possums in the living room (one time, a turkey vulture threw up in our house and it stank for 6 months). My dad taught me to love and protect the natural world, and I was greatly influenced by Tom Fitzgerald in law school."

The issues that are most important to Leslie are: mountaintop removal, fracking and the proposed Bluegrass pipeline, Shelby Energy New Power initiative, fairness, voting rights for former felons, and animal rights.

Leslie spends her spare time caring for her "merry menagerie" of rescued animals, reading, and listening to folk and old school R & B.

Nina McCoy

Big Sandy Representative

A resident of Inez, Kentucky, Nina has fought against mountaintop removal for almost two decades.  She is a national board certified Biology teacher who has worked for 30 years to pass along her love for the amazing diversity of this mountain ecosystem to the next generation through her work with the Sheldon Clark High School Environmental Club, KFTC, Big Sandy Watershed Watch and the ACHE (Appalachian Community Health Emergency) Act.   

Rutland Melton

Harlan County Representative

Rutland is a former underground mine shuttle car operator from Lynch, Kentucky. He’s a Higher Ground cast member, and an advocate for justice and a better quality of life for all people. He is an active member of the ARH Hospital Board, Eastern Kentucky Social Club, and the Mount Sinai Spirituals.

Meta Mendel-Reyes

Madison County Representative

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.

Lee Ann Paynter

Wilderness Trace Representative

Lee Ann is an adjunct professor of Art and New Media at the University of Kentucky, and at BCTC. She is a Kentucky native who was born and raised in Boyle County. After ten years of a successful music business career in Los Angeles, she moved home to pursue her education and her dream of being an artist. She holds a BFA from the University of Kentucky, and an MFA in Photography and Media from CalArts.

She is passionate about equality and the environment, and in fact found KFTC doing an internet search on mountaintop removal. In spring of 2011, anticipating a return home from California and wanting to do something positive for her home state, she joined KFTC sight unseen while doing that internet research, and became a sustaining giver right away. Lee Ann is a founding member of the Wilderness Trace chapter who currently lives in Danville, in the house where she grew up. She spends her spare time playing with her cat Bella and planning the next party or fundraiser.

Katie Pirotina

Perry County Representative

Originally from Texas, Katie moved to Kentucky in 2011, where she quickly became an active member of the Perry County chapter. Katie serves on the Voting Rights committee and is actively involved in the Community Science and Public Health Project as well as the East Kentucky Reproductive Health Project. When not in class, Katie can usually be found working at Summit City Lounge in Whitesburg, supporting her favorite local band Globsters, or hanging out with her cats Clementine and Excaliber.

Elizabeth Sanders

Letcher County Representative

After moving to Kentucky when she was four, Elizabeth grew up in Floyd and Knott Counties, where her dad was a teacher, but attended high school in Cincinnati when her family moved for new job opportunities. After college in Washington DC, Elizabeth made her way back to the mountains she knew as home, serving as an AmeriCorps*VISTA at the Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County. There she spent over a year working in gardens and helping organize the first year of the Grow Appalachia project in the area. She now lives in Whitesburg and works with YouthBuild USA's Rural and Tribal Development Initiative, which also allows her to work with the National Rural Youth Assembly. Elizabeth is a volunteer hip hop DJ on WMMT 88.7, a crafter, and a star gazer.

Al Smith

Southern Kentucky Representative

Al grew up moving around the South, claiming Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina among his homes. He came to Bowling Green in 1999 and studied religion and history at Western Kentucky University. After graduate work in religion, he found himself with a chance to do mission work in Western Australia. Three years later, he came back to Kentucky. Wanting to get involved with social justice efforts, he consulted old friends and mentors. The common reply was "KFTC is doing really good work."

Al joined in 2011 and is most interested in economic justice, tax reform, and voting rights. He started over career-wise and is now a practical nurse, and will soon be a registered nurse. Al lives in Bowling Green with wife Jeanie and two of the finest boys you'll ever meet.

Christian Torp

Central Kentucky Representative

Christian came to Kentucky in 2002 to attend UK College of Law from rural New York after a road trip with a college friend he was visiting who’s folks had moved to West Virginia, “hey, let’s go to Kentucky...” After hearing glowing things about KFTC over the years he found his entry point at Singing For Democracy and hasn’t looked back. In his time at KFTC Christian has developed a real passion for the people of Kentucky and the issues of KFTC. Self described as a lawyer/activist he is heavily involved in both the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining and the restoration of voting rights for former felons and he is indebted to KFTC. Christian is proud to serve our members in Central Kentucky and be a part of this new power!

Homer White

Scott County Representative

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 Alternates

Rosanne Fitts Klarer, Scott County

Greg Capillo, Central Kentucky

John Hennen, Rowan County

Rick Traud, Northern Kentucky

Nan Goheen, Jefferson County

Travis Lane and Jeanie Smith, Southern Kentucky

Russell Oliver, Perry County

Steve Wilkins, Madison County

Josh May, Letcher County

Virginia Madison, Big Sandy

Leah Bayens, Wilderness Trace

Joanna Mackens, Shelby County