Alaina Wood is a sustainability scientist and award-winning climate communicator based in Johnson City, Tennessee. Growing up in Appalachia was one of the many things that inspired her to pursue a degree in sustainability and geography from the University of Tennessee. Alaina worked in solid waste and stormwater management before founding the online climate education platform 'The Garbage Queen'. There she helps address eco-anxiety and fight for environmental justice by producing videos on climate science, solutions, and activism.
Aparajita (Jaya) Vashisth
Jaya Vashisth is a learner, enthusiastic music lover, and an advocate for girls in science. Proud of her Indian roots, she loves to learn about other cultures and their life stories. Her hobbies are reading, calligraphy, and cooking new food. She is bilingual, loves to learn other languages, and aspires to explore the world one day. She is passionate about spreading the positive energy of appreciating our differences and yet celebrating a message of oneness.
Arch Cowan Jones
Arch Cowan Jones is a philosopher poet of wisdom poetry from Johnson City, TN.
Bradley Eshbach is a General Store Proprietor (The Generalist), Advertising VP & Managing Director (Creative Energy), and Johnson City TN’s #1 Hype Man. I believe the solutions to many of our problems lie at the interception of culture, community, and commerce.
Cade Campbell is an undergraduate student at East Tennessee University, aspiring to study ethnobiology. Working with dozens of local environmental organizations around his home in Southern Appalachia and beyond, Cade has spent extensive time investigating human relationships with animals, plants, and fungi from his backyard to the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. Through his undergraduate research and recent work with the Blue Ridge Discovery Center, he has a mission to share the importance of Appalachian biodiversity and for humans to live an integrated life with the other species we live alongside. Currently, Cade is seeking graduate opportunities, searching for opportunities to conduct a thesis project in the field of ethnobiology across the Southeastern U.S. (Spring 2024).
David Nelson is a serial entrepreneur and the Executive Director of FoundersForge, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to the underdog entrepreneurs in Northeast Tennessee. David is also Adjunct Faculty at East Tennessee State University's Entrepreneurship Program.
Elliot is a registered nurse, and DAISY award recipient – an internationally recognized nursing award given to “extraordinary nurses.” He holds a bachelor’s degree in the Science of Nursing from East Tennessee State University, where he graduated Cum Laude. Currently, Elliot works as a graduate research assistant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, while actively pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a specialization in family practice.
Jason is a multiple award winning “urban folk” and expressionist painter, community leader and speaker. He is native to Johnson City, Tennessee. His work has been heavily influenced by personal life experiences as well as many cartoons, comic books and music. He has been drawing for over 30 years, painting for over ten and has entrenched himself in an all-things-art lifestyle being a part of local art advocacy and bridging the gap between self-taught and academia. He was called to start painting after the sudden death of his twin sister, Jessica, in 2010. Jason has used painting as therapy to direct grief into motivation and has become a creative energetic force in his local art scene.
Luke Thompson is a technologist and entrepreneur from Jonesborough, Tennessee. He currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of ActionVFX, where his expertise in technology and business strategy has played a crucial role in assembling a high-performing team that provides world-class visual effects to leading studios and filmmakers from around the world.
Dr. Mimi Wiggins Perreault understands the link between local
journalism and democracy in Appalachia. As a former professor in the
East Tennessee State University Department of Media and Communication and founder of the web-based magazine Overlooked in Appalachia, Perreault has trained students to dive deeper and harness their identities as rural Appalachian journalists. Perreault’s research has
focused on local journalists, public relations practitioners, and
disaster communicators since 2009. After working as a journalist and
public relations professional (2004-2011) in Washington, DC, and South
Florida she sees the role of the local journalist during crises and
disasters as one integral to community response and resilience.
Perreault has been published in American Behavioral Scientist,
Journalism Practice, Games and Culture, Disasters, Communication
Studies, and Journalism Education. Perreault is the co-editor of the
upcoming book, "Crisis communication case studies on COVID-19:
Multidimensional perspectives and applications" with Dr. Sarah
Dr. Natalie Cupples Pickering is a psychologist and board-certified coach with more than 20 years of clinical, business, and international experience working with leaders, teams, and organizations to build resilience and maximize personal and professional flourishing. Clients travel internationally to work with Dr. Pickering. She is also a sought-after speaker, trainer, and facilitator for local and national workshops and conferences. With clinical expertise in trauma, moral injury, emotional intelligence, and leadership development combined with previous careers in education and the fitness industry, Dr. Natalie offers her clients and audiences a depth and breadth of insight and experience. Her commitment to translating research to practical take-aways and her down to earth style bring an honest, relatable, and inspiring presence to the stage.