Betsy Taylor
Executive Director

Betsy Taylor is LiKEN founding director and a cultural anthropologist.  Over the past 20 years, she has worked for community-driven development in Appalachia and South Asia to integrate issues of health, agriculture, forestry, culture and environmental stewardship.  In popular and scholarly venues, she writes about environmental and social justice movements, democratic planning and participatory research, women’s issues, the commons, democratic reclamation of academe / professions.  She co-authored, with Herbert Reid, the book, Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place, and Global Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2010). At the University of Kentucky, she served as Co‐Director of Environmental Studies, Research Director for the Appalachian Center and on the faculty of the Social Theory program, and during her years at Virginia Tech, she was a research faculty member in the Appalachian Studies program.  She was appointed to the steering committee of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in 2013 by the Secretary of the US Department of Interior. She just stepped down as chair of the Human Rights / Social Justice Committee of the Society for Applied Anthropology.  Many of her writings can be found on her website.  She blogs under “Betsy M. Taylor” for Huffington Post.

Betsy Taylor’s CV is available here.
Mary Hufford
Associate Director

Folklorist Mary Hufford who grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Allegheny foothills, has worked over the past three decades in government, academic, and local community settings. As folklife specialist at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (1982‐2002) she led regional team fieldwork projects in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and the southern West Virginia coalfields. From 2002‐2012, she served on the graduate faculty of folklore and folklife at the University of Pennsylvania, directing the Center for Folklore and Ethnography from 2002 to 2008. As adjunct faculty with the Master’s Programs in Cultural Sustainability and Environmental Studies, she offers a summer seminar in Environmental Justice.   Her seminars and field practica engage students in exploring how folk arts and humanities, grounded in ordinary settings and daily lives of Central Appalachian communities, and neighborhoods of Philadelphia and East Baltimore, are crucial to the work of environmental justice.  A Guggenheim Fellow, she has published dozens of articles and reviews in both public and academic venues, including Orion Magazine, Gastronomica, the Journal of American Folklore, Southern Quarterly, Cahiers de Litterature Orale, Cornbread Nation, Social Identities, Western Folklore, the Journal of Appalachian Studies, and the Proceedings of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration. For a more complete list of her downloadable publications go to her website.

Mary Hufford’s CV is available here.
Julie Maldonado
Associate Director

Julie Maldonado, PhD, anthropology, is LiKEN’s Director of Research. As part of this role, she is Co-Director of Rising Voices: Climate Resilience through Indigenous and Earth Sciences, in joint partnership with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR/NCAR), and is the lead for LiKEN's Protect: Indigenous Communities on the Frontlines of Fossil Fuel Extraction project, which includes the release of the Protect film in Fall 2018. Julie is a lecturer in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a consultant with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, to support tribes' climate change adaptation planning. Previously, Julie worked for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, was the lead author on the 3rd U.S. National Climate Assessment's (NCA) Indigenous Peoples, Lands, and Resources Chapter, and was the lead editor and organizer for the Special Issue of Climatic Change and book, Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Impacts, Experiences and Actions. She is a lead author on the 4th NCA's Southwest Chapter and a technical contributor to the Southeast Chapter. Julie has consulted for the United Nations Development Programme and World Bank on displacement and resettlement, post-disaster needs assessments, and climate change. She has been a fellow with the United Nations Institute for Environment and Human Security and Munich Re Foundation’s academies on social vulnerability and climate change. Her doctorate in anthropology (American University) focused on the social and cultural impacts of environmental change in coastal Louisiana. Julie has written numerous book chapters and articles published by the Journal of Refugee Studies, the Journal of Political Ecology, and Climatic Change, among others. She has served as an expert presenter to Congressional committees and staff on climate change, indigenous peoples, displacement, and relocation. Her book Seeking Justice in an Energy Sacrifice Zone: Standing on Vanishing Land in Coastal Louisiana, and her co-edited volume, Challenging the Prevailing Paradigm of Displacement and Resettlement: Risks, Impoverishment, Legacies, Solutions, were both released in 2018.
Craig Williams
Kentucky Environmental Foundation Program Director

Craig is a founding member of the grassroots community group Common Ground and of Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF), and served as Director of KEF till January 2008. Craig maintains his position as Director of the CWWG, of which KEF is the lead organization. He is a charter member of the Kentucky Governor’s Chemical Material Demilitarization Citizen’s Advisory Commission, and currently serves as co-chair of the Kentucky Chemical Destruction Advisory Board.

Craig also has extensive community organizing experience related to veterans’ programs. He is the co-founder and secretary of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize). He has received several tributes in the U.S. Congress and was presented the John O‘Connor Citizens Achievement Award in 2003.

In addition, Craig is a board member of Blue Grass Tomorrow, a consultant for the Blue Grass Area Development District, a member of the PRISM Editorial Board for Eastern Kentucky University, and the coach of the Madison United Soccer Association and the Berea Youth Baseball League.

In April 2006 Craig was North American recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Craig received a BA in Philosophy from Eastern Kentucky University, and in May 2008 was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Humanities from the University. Craig lives in Berea, Kentucky with his wife and near his two children and two grandchildren.
Deborah Thompson
Senior Social Scientist -- On Sabbatical, Summer and Fall of 2019 --

Deborah Thompson is a creative educator, networker, musician, and dancer promoting participatory arts and sustainable development, particularly focused on the Appalachian region and its people. Finding a home and passion in Appalachia both for personal and scholarly pursuits has meant that all of her university degrees were based in Appalachian Studies, including her Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Kentucky. She currently coordinates Country Dance Programs at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, also teaching Appalachian Studies and General Studies. While working on her dissertation from 2006-2009, she served as programming director of the Appalachian Center, where one of her special projects was coordinating the Celebration of Traditional Music.

As director of the Appalachian Semester and assistant professor of Appalachian Studies at Union College in Barbourville, KY from 1991-2001, Deborah loved bringing Appalachia alive for  undergraduate students, especially bringing them together with community folks through travel and internships. At this time, she also was a founding member of Just Connections, a community-faculty partnership whose ultimate goal is to help achieve social justice in the Appalachian Region through service-learning projects and community-based research.

Deborah collaborated and published in two cooperative projects, A Handbook to Appalachia and the Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Other writing relates to her dissertation, Performing Communities: The Place of Music, Race and Gender in Producing Appalachian Space and is documented on her curriculum vitae. She learned to play banjo, guitar, and dulcimer during the folk revival of the 1970s and has repertoire from living and playing in Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and New England. Since 1976, she has performed both solo and with various groups, currently with the old time and Americana band, Skipjack. She has taught classes and workshops in Appalachian music and dance for all ages since 1984. Other meaningful work Deborah has enjoyed includes executive director of a local arts council, principal investigator for historic architecture surveys, and resident director for the National Collegiate Honors Council’s cultural study program in Appalachia, Mexico, and the Texas-Mexico border. She and her husband have spent two decades together living on 85 wooded acres in eastern Kentucky, raising animals and a garden and pursuing a more sustainable living.
Wayne Coombs
Community Well-being Coordinator

Wayne Coombs is a native of West Virginia and was trained as a psychologist at West Virginia University. He has been in the mental health field for over 35 years. He has worked as an individual and group therapist in addictions and developed an addiction specialty for the Master’s Counseling Program at West Virginia Graduate College (later merged with Marshall University.) He founded and built the West Virginia Prevention Resource Center which contractually ran the substance abuse prevention system for the State of West Virginia. Wayne established and secured funding for the Applied Community Evaluation Program as well as the Prevention As Community Development Masters’ Degree Program through Marshall University Graduate College. He was a Founding Board Member of the Coalition on Appalachian Substance Abuse Policy and the principle author of “The Governor's Comprehensive Strategic Plan to Address Substance Abuse in West Virginia” – (November, 2009.) He is the author of "The Pharmaceutical Colonization of Appalachia", published in February 2018, in the Daily Yonder.  He currently lives in Johnson City, Tennessee and has an Adjunct Faculty appointment at East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health.

M. Aaron Guest

M. Aaron Guest plays a lead role in designing and developing LiKEN’s data and analytic infrastructures.  He listens to LiKEN’s project teams to develop good research systems to serve diverse needs. He handles project management software, and supports project directors as they design and implement work plans (digital tools for timelines, monitoring benchmarks, forms and platforms for reporting and data management). He in our in-house specialist in statistical and social network methods.  Aaron is a PhD Candidate in Gerontology at the University of Kentucky with plans to graduate in August 2019. He obtained a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. The emphasis throughout his career been on translational community-engaged participatory health equity research. His research specializes in aging among rural marginalized populations, health equity, environmental gerontology, and social network/placed based community-engaged mixed method research. Specifically, his research centers on how marginalized older adults’ social networks affect their health and quality of life.  He focuses on the interrelationship between identity, place, networks, and health. He applies his interdisciplinary background as a community-based scholar to address health inequities, improve health equity, and improve health outcomes through decreasing disparities. Aaron lives in Lexington, KY with his three cats: Miss Kitty, Pemberton, and Momo.