Program and Research Associate
Edyael joined Rural Strategies after serving as a consultant for our efforts in the Gulf Coast in the fall and winter of 2006-2007. She has worked with the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educational pursuits and community youth leadership, beginning when she was a sophomore at Edcouch-Elsa High School in Elsa, Texas. Edyael is one of four founders of the Llano Grande Center’s Spanish Language Immersion Institute, and she led several community based research initiatives in her rural South Texas home town. She was born in Mexico, immigrated to the United States when she was 12, and graduated from Edcouch-Elsa High School in 2001. Edyael received a B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles and a master's degree in Latin American Studies at Ohio University in Athens.
Whitney Kimball Coe
Whitney Kimball Coe serves as coordinator of the National Rural Assembly, a rural movement made up of activities and partnerships geared toward building better policy and more opportunity across the country. Before joining the Rural Strategies staff, Whitney served as assistant editor of Appalachian Journal, an academic regional journal based in Boone, North Carolina. She has master's degree in Appalachian studies from Appalachian State University in North Carolina and an undergraduate degree from Queens University of Charlotte. Whitney and her husband, Matt, live in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Teresa comes from Carcassonne, Kentucky where several generations of her family maintain a vibrant community life that practices the traditions of quilting and square dancing. Teresa worked as a community organizer for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) for more than six years. She organized members working on strip mining, excessive logging, abuses of oil and gas drilling on private surface property where the mineral underneath is held by companies, and reforming the state’s welfare system. Teresa has worked as the administrator and fundraiser for Mountain Montessori Preschool in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Teresa lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky.
Katharine Pearson Criss
Katharine is the founding executive director of the East Tennessee Foundation, which serves 24 counties that are mainly rural. In 1995, at the invitation of the Ford Foundation, she traveled to Kenya for the first time to help Kenyan leaders explore the possibility of establishing their own community foundation. Katharine later became the Ford Foundation’s representative for Eastern Africa, where she focused on helping build community philanthropy. Katharine is also former president of Appalshop, the Appalachian arts and media center based in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and was founder of The Play Group, Inc., a community-based arts organization and theater company. Katharine has served as a member of the National Advisory Board for Rural LISC, a member and chairman of the board of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, and a board member of Winrock International. She currently serves as a board member of Humanities Tennessee. Katharine holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in theater from the University of Tennessee.
Dee Davis is the founder of the Center for Rural Strategies. Dee has helped design and lead national public information campaigns on topics as diverse as commercial television programming and federal banking policy. Dee began his media career in 1973 as a trainee at Appalshop, an arts and cultural center devoted to exploring Appalachian life and social issues in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Dee went on to serve as executive producer of Appalshop Films and Headwaters Television. During his tenure, the organization created more than 50 public TV documentaries, established a media training program for Appalachian youth, and launched initiatives that use media as a strategic tool in organization and development. Dee served as president and chairman of the board of the Independent Television Service, president of Kentucky Citizens for the Arts, and as a panelist and consultant to numerous private and public agencies. Dee serves on the board of directors of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Fund for Innovative Television, and Feral Arts of Brisbane, Australia. He is also a member of the national advisory boards of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI). Dee received an English degree from the University of Kentucky. He lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky.
Tim is a former daily newspaper journalist who has worked in nonprofit media since the early 1990s, when he became development director of Appalshop. He helped establish and edited the Chapel Hill (North Carolina) Herald, a daily edition of the Herald-Sun of Durham. Tim grew up in rural eastern Kentucky, attended Berea College, and holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tim is a musician and, with his wife, Liz McGeachy, has released several recordings inspired by traditional Appalachian music. Tim and his family live in Norris, Tennessee.
Chief Operating Officer
At age 17, Marty was a founding member of Appalshop, where he served in a variety of key management and production positions for 17 years. He has served as an executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council, general manager of Austin (Texas) Community Television, and development director for the Connecticut Food Bank. Marty served as a regional staff member for the Rural School & Community Trust, a national network that promotes place-based education and strengthening bonds between schools and their communities. As a private consultant, he worked as part of evaluation and research projects in community development, civil societies, and organizational behavior for agencies such as the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Appalachian Regional Commission, and East Kentucky Leadership Network. Marty received his bachelor's degree in film and Appalachian studies from the Union Institute. He resides in Lexington, Kentucky.
Communications Associate & Photographer
Shawn Poynter has worked as a photojournalist at newspapers across the country. He joined the Center for Rural Strategies in 2002 as a communications associate, and has gone on to develop photography and photo archive projects for Rural Strategies. In his spare time, Shawn shoots assignments across the Southeast for national and regional publications. Shawn graduated with a B.A. in photojournalism from Western Kentucky University in 1999.