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.

Cassia Herron

At-Large Representative

Cassia is a native of Richmond, KY and has lived in Louisville for most of her adult life. She is a community development professional and advocate with over 10 years experience working on projects at the intersections of community and economic development, food and the built environment and has a unique perspective on these issues as they relate to West Louisville. Cassia is a member of KFTC, Community Farm Alliance and works with New Roots as the farmer liaison with the Smoketown Fresh Stop market. As a budding entrepreneur, Cassia has a growing interest in renewable energy and sustainable development and has professional expertise in community engagement, grant-writing, policy development and strategic planning. Cassia is a graduate of the University of Louisville and has a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.

Meta Mendel-Reyes

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.

Christian Torp

Secretary-Treasurer

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!

Randy Wilson

Vice Chair

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.

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.

Sarah Bowling

Central Kentucky Representative

Sarah Bowling is an eastern Kentucky native. She is a graduate student at Eastern Kentucky University, halfway through her Master’s in Public Administration. She is the Steering Committee representative for the Central Kentucky chapter and passionate about a Just Transition for Appalachia.

Chanda Campbell

Perry County Representative

Chanda Campbell was born and raised in Hazard, KY. She is a mother of two, a career woman, and a self-proclaimed nerd. Chanda studied Theatre at Northern Kentucky University as well as Cosmetology at KCTCS. She is also licensed in multiple fields. She joined KFTC, because it has never seemed more important to be involved. When Chanda isn't working or fighting the good fight, she is playing her ukulele. 

Amy Copelin

Northern Kentucky Representative

Amy Copelin lives in Florence in Northern Kentucky and has been a KFTC member since 2013. She has lobbied at the Kentucky General Assembly, rallied locally for environmental, social justice and fairness initiatives, and registered voters in the area. She is involved in racial justice and concentration of poverty/affordable housing groups within the local chapter.

Aeryn Darst

Southern Kentucky Representative

Aeryn Darst is a Bowling Green native, a member of the SOKY chapter, and a program specialist at WKU’s Center for Citizenship & Social Justice. Aeryn is passionate about housing justice, LGBTQ rights, and empowering youth in Kentucky - as well as zines, cute gay comics, and instagramming their three beautiful cats and one beautiful fish. This is their first year as a steering committee representative.

Barbara Farley

Wilderness Trace Representative

Barbara Farley lives in Danville, KY and is a member of the Wilderness Trace chapter. She has worked hard behind the scenes making sure that meetings, events and at-home lobby sessions run smoothly. This is her second year serving on the steering committee.

Joy Fitzgerald

Shelby County Representative

Joy Fitzgerald is an environmental professional within public and private sectors. She is a life long social justice activist and has been a member of Shelby County's KFTC Chapter since 2015.

Christopher Merritt

Rowan County Representative

Christopher Merritt is a thirty-something university instructor from Morehead, Kentucky, even though he considers his self a student of life. He is very invested in the area of eastern Kentucky which is and always will be his home. He practices environmental conservation and works for economic, as well as, social justice. 

Robby Ollivam

Jefferson County Representative

Robby Olivam is a lifelong resident of Louisville, husband to Mandy Olivam, and proud father to Oak (3) and Ronin (1). Robby has a B.S. in Business Economics from UofL, an MBA from Bellarmine University, and has worked as a data analyst at Humana since graduating college in 2008. Robby enjoys learning as much as possible, listening to great podcasts, communal living, Nonviolent Communication, practicing Yoga, and playing games of all kind. 

Wendy Warren

Madison County Representative

Wendy Zagray Warren has been a KFTC member since 2014, not long after moving to Kentucky. An interdisciplinary educator of over thirty years, Warren currently works as a consultant for the The Olga Lenyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights, a NYC-based social justice nonprofit and as director of the Forest Outreach Center at Berea College. She views this dual focus on human diversity and biodiversity as parts of an interconnected whole. 

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Kimberly Shepherd, Harlan County Representative

Amanda Groves, Western Kentucky Representative

Alternates

Megan Gammon

Southern Kentucky Alternate

Megan Gammon is a mother of two and a substitute teacher at Bowling Green Independent Schools.  She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Western Kentucky University where she double majored in English and History.  She loves reading, yoga, and the beach.  She feels that Kentuckians for the Commonwealth provides her with an opportunity to work for equality and prosperity in our community and our Commonwealth.

Margaret Gardiner

Wilderness Trace Alternate

After retiring to Kentucky in 2009, Margaret was pleased to discover a grassroots organization whose purposes she completely endorsed.  Living abroad in Europe for decades, Margaret always considered Kentucky her home.  "KFTC is the group that has heart and makes me feel part of a community and a commonwealth." 

Russell Oliver

Perry County Alternate

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.

Rebecca Tucker

Madison County Alternate

Rebecca first became involved with KFTC going to protests as a 3 year old with her parents. She enjoys making things with her hands and hanging out in the woods, but she is often thwarted by reading everything on the internet.  Rebecca is interested in the future of DACA, Fairness, and a Just Transition for the Appalachian region.

Clare White

Scott County Alternate

Clare has lived in Scott County with her parents for 21 of her 27 years of life and loves the Bluegrass. She is passionate about healthcare access, the rights of her queer friends and family, and developing young leaders. Clare loves volunteering at the KDF&WR Salato Wildlife Education Center, practices yoga, and never goes anywhere without a knitting project. This is her second year as alternate for Scott County.

Candice Rider, Central Kentucky Alternate

Roy Farley, Harlan County Alternate

Lauren Gabbard, Northern Kentucky Alternate

Allie Secor, Rowan County Alternate

Cynthia Dare, Shelby County Alternate

Shaina Goodman, Western Kentucky Alternate

OPEN - Jefferson County