Funding and support for the highly entreprenuerial young leader looking to launch innovative social ventures.
Samir’s passion is to understand, protect and cultivate the relationship between people and place. Presently he is the Sustainability Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen’s University in Ontario. Samir’s work using ecological design on mountaintop removal coal sites contributed to the 2008 Buckminster Fuller Design Award, “Comprehensive Design for a Carbon Neutral World: The Challenge of Appalachia” as well as the Central Appalachian Prosperity Project. When not in the classroom, he can be found working in Appalachia, Canada or India with coalfield communities about the power of natural and cultural resilience in theory and practice.
Samir holds a B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering from Purdue University and Ph.D. from the University of Vermont specializing in Systems Ecology, Ecological Design, and Community Empowerment Economics.
Audrey is a thoughtful maker. She believes in the power of collaboration. As a designer, she creates products, systems and services that build connections between people, environments, and economies. She designs with people, not for people. You can often find her covered in sawdust in the wood shop, growing food out of her apartment windows, playing music with James, or behind the lens of the camera.
Audrey holds a Bachelor of Industrial Design from NC State University and just finished her Master of Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design where her thesis focused on empowering people to grow food.
Michelle loves people in their element and finds beauty in everyday life. She knows that every person needs to be appreciated with a valued role and a voice. Michelle is deeply rooted in the Clearfork Valley of Appalachia, performing community-based research at the Clearfork Community Institute (CCI) and developing a value-added business, Mountain Made Mountain Ways, in the coalfields of eastern Tennessee. She was the lead organizer for the Appalachian Community Economics Conference in 2008.
Michelle holds B.A. of Anthropology and Appalachian Studies from Warren Wilson College and will be attending the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex this Fall to receive her M.A.
James can’t be still, which means he gets a lot of things done. His work is in the space between human health and ecosystem health, integrating communities and environments around achievable sustainability goals. Currently James directs The Forest Health Works Project, a Rhode Island-based partnership of state, local, and NGOs. This project is advancing strategic conservation efforts, while creating jobs for youth and green industry workers. James also founded the Land Stewardship Program, an innovative college-level conservation corps in Vermont.
James has a B.S. in Biology and Psychology from NC State University and an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. The banjo is his instrument of choice. He is one part of the Americana band Mama Dirt.