Ron Rash – Author and Appalachian Keynote Speaker. Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to four other prizewinning novels: One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, The World Made Straight, and The Cove; four collections of poems; and five collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O.Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.
Tom Belt (Cherokee) - Native Keynote Speaker. Cherokee Language Instructor, WCU. Belt is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a fluent Cherokee speaker. He attended the Universities of Oklahoma and Colorado and taught the Cherokee language at the Cherokee elementary school for seven years in Cherokee, NC. Belt has also served as a consultant to various indigenous language programs in public schools and on the post-secondary level. He has been a resident of North Carolina for the last nineteen years and worked as a counselor's aide in a local treatment center for native youth with chemical dependencies. Belt currently teaches Cherokee language classes at WCU and is a frequent guest lecturer at other universities, including Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Purdue University. He works with the Center for Native Health, Inc. as a consultant.
Dr. Lisa J. Lefler – Director, Culturally-Based Native Health Programs, WCU, and Founder/Director, Center for Native Health, Inc., a local non-profit. Lisa received her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and is an Applied Medical Anthropologist who has worked with dozens of tribal communities in the U.S., particularly the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, and the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, and Chickasaw Nations in Oklahoma.
Dr. David Cozzo - Dr. David Cozzo is an ethnobotanist specializing in the relationship of the Cherokee to their botanical world. He is an Area Specialized Agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension based at the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians Extension Center and is the Project Director for the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources. He teaches courses and has published articles on the nutritional and medical ethnobotany of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
Pamela Duncan – Assistant Professor, WCU, and novelist. Duncan
was born in Asheville and grew up in Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and Shelby, North Carolina. She holds a B.A. in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. She lives in Cullowhee and teaches creative writing at Western Carolina University. She is the author of three award-winning novels and is working on her fourth. A native Appalachian, she is co-chair of the Rooted in the Mountains symposium.
Lauren Bishop has been serving at WCU since 2005. She became the Energy Manager for the Facilities Management Department in 2007. Her focus includes creating a holistic approach to integrating sustainability and energy conservation systematically across the campus and community. It is a dynamic goal that includes all areas of campus and involves wearing many hats from campus programs, technical competencies, and strategic planning. Her family includes her husband Blair and two young boys Harper and Myles. In her free time she likes to enjoy time outside with her family, hiking, traveling, playing in her garden, and being a mom.
Nancy Stephens, RN, BSN, HTCP, HTI – Nancy, a WCU alumni, has been in the nursing profession for 15 years. She began studying Healing Touch in 2007, became a Healing Touch Certified Practitioner in 2009 and is completing the process to become a HT Certified Instructor. Currently, Nancy is employed at Cherokee Indian Hospital as a staff nurse where she integrates Healing Touch into her nursing practice, thus treating the mind, body, and spirit of her patients.
T.J. Holland (EBCI) –Cultural Resources Manager, Kituwah Preservation and Education Program (KPEP), Director and Curator, Junaluska Memorial and Museum, Robbinsville. Holland serves on the advisory board for the American Philosophical Society’s Building Bridges Program. He is a member of the Snowbird Cherokee community and is a frequent referee of Snowbird stickball games. Holland is also an artist with a BFA from WCU.
Reverend Rosemary Peek – Pastor, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Sylva, NC, and Pastor, Lutheran Campus Ministry, WCU. She received a B.A. in Public History at Queens University, Charlotte and graduated from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC in 2008.
Greg Leading Fox (Pawnee) – Greg is a member of the Skidi Band of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and works for the Unity Regional Healing Center in Cherokee, an Indian Health Service facility. Greg is a military veteran and served as a Marine. He sings with other Native men to continue the traditions of drumming as he was taught by his grandfather and other tribal elders. He and his drum group often travel to sing at pow wows and other events.
Brent Martin- A lifetime writer, educator, and conservationist, and lives in the Cowee community of western North Carolina. During his career in conservation he has worked for the Armuchee Alliance, Georgia Forestwatch, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, and The Wilderness Society, where he currently serves as Southern Appalachian Regional Director in Sylva, NC. He as an M.A. and A.B.D in History from Georgia State University, and is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry, Poems from Snow Hill Road, A Shout in the Woods, and Every Breath Sings Mountains, which he co-authored with writers Thomas Rain Crowe and Barbara Duncan. His poetry and essays have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, Pisgah Review, Tar River Poetry, Chattahoochee Review, Eno Journal, New Southerner, Kudzu Review, Smoky Mountain News, and elsewhere
Roger Clapp- Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River (WATR) – As executive director of WATR, Clapp manages a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to protecting and enhancing water quality and habitat in the Tuckasegee River in western North Carolina, U.S.A.
Adam Bigelow – A resident of Jackson County, NC and Executive Director of the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance and Garden Manager of the Cullowhee Community Garden. An avid native plant enthusiast and organic gardener, Adam Bigelow has been a member of the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference Steering Committee for three years.
William Shelton – Shelton owns and manages a small diversified family-operated farm located along the Tuckasegee River near Whittier in Jackson County, North Carolina. Sheltons have farmed this land for multiple generations. The present generation includes William and Sabrina Shelton, along with our four sons Wil, Sam, Cal, and Tom.
Dr. Rob Young- Director, WCU Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines