About

LiKEN incorporated as a non-profit in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1990 (under the name Kentucky Environmental Foundation).  We are partners and members of various networks for collaborative, multistakeholder, policy-relevant, knowledge exchange and translation: Kentucky Nonprofit Network, National Rural Assembly, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Association, Rising Voices: Collaborative Science with Indigenous Knowledge for Climate Solutions, National Climate Assessment, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Betsy Taylor

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 served on the steering committee of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative from 2013-2017. She served as chair of the Human Rights / Social Justice Committee of the Society for Applied Anthropology from 2015-2017.  Many of her writings can be found on her website.

Betsy Taylor’s CV is available here.

Julie Maldonado

Julie Maldonado

Associate Director

Julie Maldonado is a cultural anthropologist and serves as LiKEN’s Associate Director. As part of this role, she is Co-Director of the Rising Voices: Climate Resilience through Indigenous and Earth Sciences program, in joint partnership with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR/NCAR), and is the lead for the LiKEN-produced PROTECT film, in partnership with Paper Rocket Productions. She also works with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals to facilitate and support the development of tribes’ climate change adaptation planning and vulnerability assessments. Julie is a lecturer in the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Environmental Studies Program and for Future Generations University. She is also a founding member of the Culture and Disaster Action Network (CADAN). 

As a public anthropologist, Dr. Maldonado has consulted for the UN Development Programme and World Bank on resettlement, post-disaster needs assessments, and climate change. She worked for the US Global Change Research Program and is an author on the 3rd and 4th US National Climate Assessments. Her doctorate in anthropology focused on the social and cultural impacts of environmental change and habitual disasters in coastal Louisiana, and she has served as an expert presenter to Congressional committees and staff . She was the lead editor for a special issue for the journal Climatic Change entitled, Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Impacts, Experiences and Actions, which was published in 2013. Her book, Seeking Justice in an Energy Sacrifice Zone: Standing on Vanishing Land in Coastal Louisiana, and co-edited volume, Challenging the Prevailing Paradigm of Displacement and Resettlement: Risks, Impoverishment, Legacies, Solutions, were both released in 2018. As part of LiKEN, she organized and is executive producer of the Paper Rocket Productions film, PROTECT, to be released in 2019. 

Mary Hufford

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.

Rachel Eppley

Rachel Eppley

Office Manager

Rachel Eppley brings deep values of service and community to the work of KEF and LiKEN.  While she was a chaplain at the Nashville Rescue Mission in TN in the early 2000s, she assisted homeless women with a variety of needs including counseling, housing, and social security. In recent years, she developed a unique ability to integrate care-work with practical problem-solving while home-schooling her children and working in a family business. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Lipscomb University in TN where she specialized in theology. Her family has deep, multi-generational roots in eastern Kentucky. Rachel coordinates core systems in the day-to-day functioning of LiKEN and supports the administrative work of the Executive Director.  She ensures the smooth running of the office and help to improve company procedures and day-to-day operation. She oversees central office functions, supplies, equipment, and maintenance.  She schedules meetings and manages accommodations for lodgers and visitors while they are in the LiKEN House in Lexington, Kentucky. She handles our weekly news bulletins and blogs. Her empathic gifts are helping us to listen to, and to communicate, the diversity of unique and rich stories emerging from our projects.

Ricky Draper

Ricki Draper

Community Engagement Coordinator

Ricki Draper is a queer Jewish organizer who grew up in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Since 2011, Ricki has lived and worked in Central Appalachia, supporting various community-led efforts for environmental justice and economic transition in the region. Ricki began working on drinking water quality issues in Martin County, Kentucky as an Appalachian Transition Fellow with Appalachian Citizens Law Center and Martin County Concerned Citizens in June 2018. In partnership with these organizations, University of Kentucky and LiKEN, Ricki has supported the implementation of a multi-pronged campaign to address the lack of access to clean and affordable drinking water in Martin County. The campaign integrates citizen science, participatory action research, and industry watchdogging with community organizing and advocacy to increase public participation in decision making and realize the goal of clean and affordable drinking water for all. 

As LiKEN’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Ricki will continue organizing for clean and affordable drinking water in eastern Kentucky, and through the process, hopes to build and strengthen grassroots political and economic power in the region. Ricki received a B.A in Social Practice and Sustainability in the Anthropology Department at Appalachian State University. In her free time, Ricki is usually out hiking in the mountains with her little dog, Fiddle. 

Lindsay Coleman

Lindsay Coleman

Development Director

Lindsay Coleman serves as LiKEN’s Development Director.  Before her time at LiKEN, she worked as a Research Administrator for the University of Kentucky’s Office of Sponsored Projects Administration.  A licensed social worker, she organized and coordinated master’s level social work students from the University of Southern Mississippi to provide crisis counseling to tornado survivors in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Ms. Coleman served as the Grant Coordinator for the City of Hattiesburg. She also worked as a medical social worker in hospice and home health in Indiana. Before that, Ms. Coleman taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia and wrote, administered, and supervised successful grant proposals for a greenhouse and the repair of a well.  She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Georgia and her master’s in social work at the University of Maryland.    

Burney, Chris

Chris Burney

Project Director of LiKEN’s Agroforestry Project

Chris Burney is a grower and graduate student earning a PhD at West Virginia University with dissertation work investigating the development of agroforestry states for ecological site descriptions. After apprenticing under farmers and nurserymen, Chris designed a multi-species, multi-story agroforestry system for the small farm he was the head grower for, creating a long-term ecologically and economically sustainable production model. As project director for the Sharing Successes in Forest Farming across Central Appalachia project Chris will be able to share experiences from farming, nursery work, and public and private sector growing as well as training in agroforestry practices and soil science while learning new techniques and stories from community partners. 

Chris has been working on his PhD at the WVU Davis College of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Design and has worked as a research assistant for the Institute of Water Security and Science and Jim Thompson’s Soils Lab, as well as teaching both freshman labs and senior capstone experiments in ecology. Chris received his M.S. in natural resources with a specialization in agroforestry through the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry and a B.A. in Comparative Studies with emphasis in Folklore and Linguistics from the Center for Folklore Studies at the Ohio State University. 

Meagan White

Megan White

Data Management

Megan provides GIS and data management support for LiKEN’s projects. She also considers pedagogical approaches for communicating data management and mapping protocols to the diverse teams and communities involved in LiKEN projects. Megan obtained her MA in geography from the University of Kentucky in 2014 and since has worked as a GIS analyst, freelance writer and editor, and geography instructor. She currently teaches geography at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.  

Craig Williams

Craig Williams

Kentucky Environmental Foundation
Program Director

Craig is a founding member of the grassroots community group Common Ground and of KEF, and served as Director of KEF until January 2008.

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 recently retired from coaching soccer in several schools and county leagues for over 25 years.

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

Deborah Thompson

— On Sabbatical —
Senior Social Scientist

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.

Aaron Guest

Aaron Guest

Research Director

M. Aaron Guest plays a key 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 Assistant Professor of aging with the Center for Innovation in Healthy and Resilient Aging at Arizona State University. He received his PhD Candidate in Gerontology from the University of Kentucky 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 Phoenix AZ with his three cats: Miss Kitty, Pemberton, and Momo.

Wayne Coombs

Wayne Coombs

Community Development 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 principal 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 and  Why We Can’t Solve the Opioid Problem in the Journal of Appalachian Health. He currently lives in Johnson City, Tennessee and has an Adjunct Faculty appointment at East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health. 

Cambria Wilson

Cambria Wilson

Research Assistant

Hello! My name is Cambria Wilson. This is my third year at University of California, Santa Barbara pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Justice and a minor in Poverty, Inequality, and Social Justice. I currently serve as Publicity Chair for the Environmental Justice Association, where we aim to amplify awareness regarding intersectional challenges of environmentalism and social equity. My work involves demonstrating progressive action for marginalized demographics, providing a space for constructive discourse, and encouraging collaboration among local organizations. I have worked teaching students from Kindergarten to Seniors in High School, conducted research for conservation in the broadleaf temperate rainforest of Southern Chile, and observed the relationship and adaptations developed between Mapuche people and the environment. I am passionate about helping people help themselves and each other by creating a culture of consciousness and kindness. 

Jackie Rigley

Jackie Rigley

Research Assistant

Hi! My name is Jackie Rigley and I am a third year at UCSB majoring in Environmental Studies and Sociology. I grew up in Chicago and coming to school in California piqued my interest in protecting our natural environment. On campus I am a board member on the UCSB Coastal Fund, which allocates funding to various projects involved in protecting the Santa Barbara coast environment. I also studied abroad in Southern Chile and had the opportunity to conduct research related to sustainable tourism. I am passionate about environmental justice and the power of community resilience in the face of climate change. Outside of school I love to spend my time exploring Santa Barbara, cooking, and painting. 
I am really interested in changing how we develop our cities. I want to work in Urban Planning, and help to build more resilient, sustainable, and humane communities. I’m interested in learning more about fighting climate change on a local, city-wide level. Moving forward, our development needs to be more inclusive and actively fight to slow down the progression of climate change. 

Hannah Ornellas

Hannah Ornellas

Research Assistant

I am a fourth-year environmental studies major at UCSB. I am currently the Community Resident Director for Isla Vista Tenant’s Union, a grassroots organization that works on educating the diverse community of Isla Vista to ensure that tenants know their rights. I work on community outreach programs and make sure all groups of the community are included by ensuring that necessary services are provided such as translation services. 
I am really interested in changing how we develop our cities. I want to work in Urban Planning, and help to build more resilient, sustainable, and humane communities. I’m interested in learning more about fighting climate change on a local, city-wide level. Moving forward, our development needs to be more inclusive and actively fight to slow down the progression of climate change. 

Sarah Morairty

Sarah Morairty

Research Assistant

Aniin boozhoo! I am a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. I am part of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. I am a passionate activist for the rights of Mother Earth and marginalized communities. My research interests include sustainable development, climate change and its impacts on communities of color, traditional approaches to land and resource management, economic and political approaches to the transition towards a green society, food sovereignty, cultural preservation and protection, and institutionalized marginalization. I want social and environmental justice for all, as well as a healthy and positive future for our children. In the words of my ancestors, “Maamawi mashkogaabawiyang”; together we stand strong. Let’s build a better world together. 

Jessica Clegg

Jessica Clegg

Research Assistant

My name is Jessica Rose Clegg and I am a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California Santa Barbara. I am working towards an environmental studies Bachelor of Arts degree, with an emphasis in anthropology. After I graduate, I am interested in pursuing a master’s in public health degree. I am interested in environmental justice, climate justice, and food justice. I recently finished my Division I collegiate soccer career after 17 years of playing. I was born and raised in San Diego, California along with my five brothers and sisters, and I recently became an aunt of two beautiful baby girls. Some of my interests include: running, hiking, traveling, swimming in the ocean, beach volleyball, reading, art, and cooking.

Sarah Birnbaum

Sarah Birnbaum

Research Assistant

Hello! My name is Sarah Birnbaum. I am a senior at The University of California, Santa Barbara double majoring in Environmental Studies and The History of Art & Architecture. My curiosity for the environment began at a young age. While growing up I enjoyed spending time outdoors, gardening, hiking, and playing sports. My passion for the environment truly took off in high school while taking AP Environmental Science, as I learned about the threats of climate change on a local to global level. Wanting to create positive change for people and the environment, I learned that I wanted to pursue a career in Environmental Justice. Within the realm of Environmental Justice, I am especially interested in sustainable community development and public health.  I hope as a society we can further recognize the link between social and environmental issues, striving to create communities where people are granted equal rights and protected from environmental harms.  Outside of school I enjoy hiking with my German Shepherd, doing yoga, and cooking new meals. I am excited to be part of the LIKEN team, having the opportunity to learn from community members, in addition to having the ability to share my knowledge and passion for Environmental Justice with others.  

Elizabeth McDonough

Elizabeth McDonough

Research Assistant

Hi! I am a fourth year at University of California, Santa Barbara majoring in Environmental Studies and Economics. I am currently the Outreach Coordinator for the UCSB Department of Public Worms. I work with this organization to promote closed-loop food systems, responsible waste management, and food security by processing campus compost, growing organic food for the UCSB Food Bank, and sharing knowledge with our surrounding community. I previously interned for Internews on their Asia-Pacific Earth Journalism Network Project in Bangkok, Thailand. Our work aimed to empower, amplify, connect, and financially support indigenous environmental journalists. I am passionate about issues of environmental justice, understanding how economic systems contribute to societal injustices, and sustainable community-driven development. Some of my current fascinations include schooling, institutional socialization, and how the public engages with news and media. 

Research Assistant

Shaunna Scott

Professor, Sociology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

Dr. Shaunna Scott is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Kentucky. She is the Past President of the Appalachian Studies Association. Her interests center upon social inequality, gender, the politics of identity and commemoration, theory, qualitative methods, participatory action research and social movements in Appalachia and Northern Ireland. Dr. Scott’s work appears in Rural Sociology, Annual Review of Sociology, Qualitative Sociology, Journal of Appalachian Studies, Appalachian Journal, and Action Research. Dr. Scott is an affiliate of the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center, Center for Poverty Research, Social Theory Committee, and Gender Women Studies. Dr. Scott’s ethnographic and interview research takes a feminist critical theoretical approach to understanding politics, commemoration, community and economic development and planning, identity construction and community dynamics. She is particularly interested in understanding and promoting democratic practices and social justice projects in conflictual, stratified, rural contexts. Her work focuses primarily upon Central Appalachia, although she has done research in Northern Ireland and New Zealand.


Linda Kaboolian

Lecturer, School of Public Health, Harvard University

Dr. Kaboolian’s professional experience, research and teaching focus on multi-stakeholder problem solving processes around workplace and public policy issues. She works with labor, management and community groups around improved organizational performance and service to diverse communities. Labor Management Relations and Win-Win Labor-Management Collaboration are topics on which she has published books, chapters and articles. She has conducted years of fieldwork on organizations that bridge racial, ethnic, and class divides. She co-authoredWorking Better Together: A Practical Guide for Union Leaders, Elected Officials and Managers and The Concord Handbook.  These works distill several years of fieldwork about organizations that bridge racial, ethnic, and class divides. While she now serves as a neutral mediator, she was an elected officer and chief bargainer of a union, and a senior manager in the federal government. She has also served in the state and local and non-profit sectors. Kaboolian received her PhD from the University of Michigan.


Danielle Brian

Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight

Since 1993, Danielle Brian has been the Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). She frequently testifies before Congress and regularly meets with Members of Congress and officials at the White House and federal agencies to discuss how to achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.  Ms. Brian was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to serve on the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Federal Advisory Committee in 2012. In 2013, she was elected chair of the civil society organizations on the Federal Advisory Committee. In 2015, Ms. Brian was elected to the Board of the D.C. Open Government Coalition. Ms. Brian serves on the board of Taxpayers for Common Sense, and is the chair of the Steering Committee for OpenTheGovernment.org. Ms. Brian was inducted into the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, was ranked by Ethisphere magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in business ethics, and received the Smith College Medal.