Dr. Florence Anoruo is an Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, a UNCF/Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Mentor, and Faculty Residency Program fellow. She became acquainted with Dogwood Alliance through her volunteer work with Wood Pellets NC (Southern Forests Conservation Coalition). She is known for her exemplary teaching, research, mentoring, and leadership in many university capacity building initiatives, especially in the areas of plant and environmental sciences, sustainability, wellness and nutrition. She received the National Society of Leadership and Success Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring award in 2015 and 2016.
Jacob Blass is the president and co-principal of Ethical Advocate, a leading edge ethics and compliance company, founded in 2004. Initially a psychologist, he subsequently led four healthcare organizations for 23 years; companies he led were consistently recognized for their excellence. Jacob specializes in strategy development, management, and executive mentoring. He has worked nationally and internationally with organizations and governments, facilitating processes he developed on the integration of deeply embedded ethical cultures, values, purpose, and goals. Thousands of people have attended his seminars. Jacob has served on numerous boards, including an international hunger-relief organization, a national think-tank devoted to end of life care, and a planning committee for the city of Boulder, CO.
Alison is the Sustainability & Social Impact Manager at Gaia Herbs. She leads their sustainability strategies, including Climate Action Planning, zero waste efforts, carbon farm planning, and the Roots Initiative social impact program. Alison has worked with farmers and artisans around the world to advance business strategies that foster both a positive economic impact on rural livelihoods and ecological conservation. After working as an organic farmer in rural WV, Alison worked for the NC State Extension Service in WNC to advance organic agriculture systems and alternative crop research & marketing for medicinal herbs and native plants of the Southeast. Alison holds a Bachelor’s degree from George Washington University. Alison lives outside Asheville, NC, with her husband, baby boy, and the company of two dogs, five goats, and flock of chickens.
Dr. Thomas RaShad Easley
RaShad is the former Director of Community for Diversity at NC State School of Natural Resources and is now the Assistant Dean of Diversity at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He brings a quantitative and qualitative understanding of diversity to Dogwood’s Board. He’s a forester, a professor, and a hip hop artist. He is skilled at spontaneous performance, talent development, and is great with people and working on teams. Being a diversity professional, he is adept at communicating cross-culturally and advocating for marginalized populations.
Sami is a writer and the Creative Director at The Change Creation, a brand creation agency that works with entities who make the world better, fairer, or truer. His clients include Larry’s Beans, Burt’s Bees, Canaan Fair Trade, and Jada Pinkett Smith/Overbrook Entertainment. His core skills lie in practical, strategic communication – and specifically in helping organizations identify the point where their identity, values, and culture align with the interests, values, and passions of their audiences. Having worked on the Dogwood on several projects and over many years, Sami helps ensure that the theoretical work of defining the brand translates into effective communication on the ground.
Mary Annaïse Heglar is a writer and communications professional based in New York City. Her work has been published in Vox, Guernica, Dame Magazine, and other places. She is also the co-host of Hot Take podcast, which dissects climate coverage from an intersectional lens. She has worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council since 2014.
Joe has been in the natural resource management business for over 30 years. He has worked in both public and private sectors and is currently providing consultation services for several “green industry” organizations through his company, EcoGrounds Management Systems. For 18 years, Joe was a Facilities Management Director at Duke University’s 900 acre campus, which included the management of its grounds and sanitation program, recycling program, fleet operations, stone quarry production, as well as buildings and grounds at the school’s Marine Laboratory facility located in Beaufort, North Carolina. Joe has a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke University.
Judy is the Executive Director at the Durham Center for Senior Life in Durham, NC. She’s a community builder and a nonprofit executive, who loves to rouse, rally, and connect people for good. She creates connections within the Durham area and the LGBTQ community. She likes raising money, fostering a movement, having a good time in the process. She also plays well in the proverbial sandbox and in the forest.
Rev. Dr. Michelle Lewis is the Executive Director of the Peace Garden Project in NY and NC. She has formerly served as the lead pastor of churches in NC, NY, and CT. She is passionate about the intersection of the environment, race, and religion and helping people and communities reach their full potential through creativity that engages the spiritual and the natural worlds. She is an award-winning filmmaker and radio show host. Her podcast Unpacking Faith can be found on iTunes. Michelle is the first woman of color to hold joint Master’s degrees in Religion and the Environment from Yale. She holds a DMin from Candler School of Theology.
Olufemi is originally from Charlotte, NC but has called Asheville, NC her home for almost 20 years. She’s a mother, daughter, and avid community organizer, currently working with the Sierra Club as a National Lead Organizer for the Ready for 100 Campaign. Olufemi is also one of the founders of the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council, Ujamaa Freedom Market, Hillcrest Unity Garden, and Gardens United. She is a Fellow Member of the North Carolina Food Justice Fellowship (for People of Color). Her personal experiences with environmental and structural racism have called her to use her voice in movements that are working to dismantle inequities and oppression.
Elise has spent the last decade working on environmental & progressive issues. She is currently the social media specialist for National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses, based in San Francisco. Elise also served as a digital campaigner at Rainforest Action Network and as the frontline campaign specialist at Greenpeace USA. A native of western North Carolina, Elise grew up with a love of Southern forests that led her to begin her environmental career as an intern for Dogwood Alliance in 2006. Elise loves quilting, playing pinball, and caring for her cat, Mildred.
Sara is an international business professional with experience in business strategy, account management, and market intelligence. By the end of 2018, Sara decided to focus her career towards the development of environmental solutions to incentivize a more responsible use of resources. In 2019, she joined SCEN to collaborate in membership, operations, and advancement to enable continuous collaboration and equitable resource generation for grassroots organizations in the US Southeast. Sara is an animal lover and enjoys rock climbing, ocean kayaking, and biking or walking along Everglades trails.
Ulla is a career non-profit professional and passionate environmentalist with expertise on clean air, climate, energy issues and campaigns. She currently serves as Clean Air Campaign Manager for National Parks Conservation Association. Previously, Ulla worked for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy overseeing southeast regional utility campaigns to clean up and shut down coal-fired power plants. Ulla holds a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and lives in Asheville, NC.
Abi is a conservationist and environmental advocate who worked in the Eastern US and Latin America to establish and manage nature reserves, fight climate change, support healthy communities, and raise awareness about assaults on the environment. She founded an ecotourism business, consulting on projects and programs throughout the world and offering ecotours to sites in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. She serves on the Boards of American Rivers and As You Sow. She is active in funder networks addressing climate change and environmental protection. Abi is also a climate activist and proponent of racial justice, helping to overcome bias within environmental organizations. Abi loves bicycling, hiking, paddling, and pickleball!
A graduate of Presbyterian College with a Bachelor of Science, Morgan first got involved with Dogwood in 2016 when she worked as the Community Organizer in Laurens County, SC, joining the movement to stop the construction of an Enviva wood pellet facility. Now Morgan is an Environmental Monitor Technician in Columbia, SC. From the time she hunted and fished with her father when she was a young girl, Morgan has always loved the outdoors. Now she likes to spend her time hiking and camping with friends.
Loretta A. Slater
Loretta is the Executive Director of The Whitney M. Slater Foundation, which she and her mother founded in 2012 in memory of her daughter. Inspired by Whitney’s dream of providing better educational opportunities for African American women especially around health, the foundation educates frontline communities and communities of color on environmental health issues, supports early detection of cancer, and encourages second medical opinions. Loretta also works closely with Reverend Leo Woodberry on multiple initiatives, is an active member of Southeast Climate & Energy Network, and was a key organizer of the Justice First Tour, a solidarity movement for justice issues that convened in more than 27 cities and 12 states throughout the Southeast US.
Reverend Leo Woodberry
Reverend Leo has a long history as an activist and community organizer. He is the Executive Director of New Alpha Development Corporation and serves as the pastor of Kingdom Living Temple in Florence, South Carolina. Throughout his work, Reverend Leo has exhibited remarkable leadership in combating racism and promoting justice. In addition, he works to advance the understanding of environmental racism and climate justice.
Lynne works at the intersection of the environment, environmental health, environmental justice, community resilience and equity within the context of climate change. She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and worked for over 25 years in the engineering consulting industry. She currently works with environmentally-focused nonprofits, small businesses and faith-based institutions providing program and fund development assistance. She lives in Georgia where she enjoys learning about permaculture, growing food in a community garden, and African dance.