By working together and sharing a common passion for the organization we serve, we propel our mission forward.
Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission
Jim Baldwin is the Executive Director of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (CPPDC) in Lebanon, Virginia. Jim has been with the CPPDC since 1972. Jim is a founding member of ASD and also serves on many other Boards of Directors, including The Crooked Road, Coalfield Water Development Fund and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority. Jim, a native of Honaker, Virginia, graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia with a B.A. degree in Government and is married with two grown children and five grandchildren. He and his wife Kathy live near Emory, Virginia.
Dr. Theresa Burriss, Vice Chair
Theresa L. Burriss serves as the ASD Board Vice-Chair and has been involved with ASD for the past four years. Born and raised in Bristol, TN, Theresa has a BA from Emory University in Atlanta, an MS from Radford University, and a PhD from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati. She serves as the Chair of Appalachian Studies and Director of the Appalachian Regional & Rural Studies Center at Radford University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate multidisciplinary classes on Appalachia. Along with her husband, Dr. James L. Werth, Jr., two sons, Paul and Campbell, and various domestic and wild animals, Theresa lives in Washington County, VA, on Gwendolyn Ridge, a non-traditional 106-wooded-acre farm and artist retreat.
Bree Cassidy is a senior at King University. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Communications. After King she wants to continue her education with a masters in Public Administration. She graduated from Volunteer High School and is a resident in Mount Carmel, TN. She believes that a beautiful view and a good cup of coffee can cure almost anything.
Dr. Heather Champney
Nisewonger Children’s Hospital
Heather is a Johnson City, TN native and after a few years away for college, she returned to the area to attend medical school at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine. She met her husband in medical school and the two remained in the area after they completed their training. Heather is a pediatrician in the Niswonger Pediatric Emergency Room and also works in an outpatient clinic doing general pediatrics. Heather has a passion for teaching children and their families about healthy lifestyle choices and is involved in a number of school and community based initiatives that promote fitness, gardening and healthy eating. Heather and her husband stay busy with their four children, two cats, one dog, and four fish and they enjoy spending time on the lake, biking, traveling and simply being together.
John Gifford, Secretary
Browning, Lamie and Gifford, P.C.
John was born in Louisville, Kentucky and grew up in Morganton, North Carolina. He graduated from Duke University and earned his law degree at Washington and Lee University. He came to Southwest Virginia in 1982 to work with the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, representing low income clients with issues involving public benefits and consumer law. In 1997, John began his practice with Browning, Lamie and Gifford in Abingdon, Virginia, representing clients in workers’ compensation, Social Security and bankruptcy matters. John also serves on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society. He is an avid runner and bicyclist who enjoys an annual week-long cycling trek through the mountains of Appalachia.
Laughing Water Farm
Antoinette graduated from the University of Georgia. Most of her work career has been with non-profits, primarily the Coastal Heritage Society in Savannah, Georgia where she was Assistant Director and later Editor. She has served as Co-founder and President of the Waldorf Children’s Garden in Evansville, IN, and as National Trainer with Camp Noah during Katrina outreach for MN Lutheran Social Services as well as assorted local organizations including Evergreen Soil and Water Conservation District Associate Director from 1999 to 2011. Her vision encompasses wildlife preservation including the endangered Gray Bat as well as a green space and retreat center. She seeks to grow sustainably for the health of the land, river, animals and people the the farm feeds. The products include Grass-fed Lamb, Classically-aged Angus Beef, Rose Veal and Ossabaw Island Pigs as well as a market garden.
Jake Harris, Chair
Jacob M. Harris is a Vice President of Citizens Bank with responsibilities including commercial banking, business development and account management. Harris earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance while attending King College and the University of South Florida where he graduated with Cum Laude honors. He has 14 years of experience in the financial services industry including 10 years focused on commercial banking in the Tri-Cities region. Jacob’s commercial banking experience includes structuring and managing all sizes of real estate, construction and asset-based credit facilities as well as providing overall management to large corporate, municipal and small business relationships. Harris has been inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. He lives in Kingsport, TN with his wife, Amy, and two children, Camden and Paislee. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys spending time with his family, practicing a healthy lifestyle, outdoor recreation, gardening and playing guitar.
Edd was born in eastern Kentucky in a coal mining community. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After working for a time in Kentucky and Florida, he relocated to Bristol in 1977 adn served as Project Engineer on a project to build six floors on Bristol Memorial Hospital. A few years and projects later, in 1986, he founded HVAC, Inc., a mechanical and electrical contracting company. HVAC, Inc. has grow to over 130 employees and is licensed in seven states. He has two wonderful daughters. He lost his wive of over 38 years to cancer in 2011. His passions are music, flyfishing, and buildings. He is also very involved in community and non-profit work and has served on the boards of ASD, the Birthplace of Country Music, the Crooked Road and the YMCA.
Dr. Steven Hopp
Emory & Henry College
Steven Hopp is broadly trained in the life sciences, and received his Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from Indiana University. He moved to SW VA in 1984 to teach at Emory and Henry College, and has been tied to this region ever since. He taught Ornithology courses at the University of Arizona from 1994 to 2004 at which time he moved back to Virginia full time. He teaches courses in sustainable agriculture and wildlife management in the Environmental Studies program at Emory and Henry.
Dr Hopp has studied different species of Vireos for over 25 years. His main interest is in their vocal behavior, but he has broadly studied their natural history including life history strategies, breeding ecology and behavior on their wintering grounds. More recently, Dr Hopp has become interested in Sustainable Agriculture, and is co-author of the national best-selling book, Animal Vegetable Miracle, with his wife, Barbara Kingsolver. The book is about local food systems and sustainable agriculture. He is founder and director of The Meadowview Farmers’ Guild, a community development project devoted to promoting local products, with an emphasis on agriculture. Part of this project is the Harvest Table Restaurant, a nationally recognized farm-to-table restaurant that is one of the most dedicated to local food sourcing in the eastern United States. He has served on the board of Appalachian Sustainable Development since 2005. He lives in Meadowview, VA on a mostly wooded farm with Icelandic Sheep and Dexter Cattle.
Community Newspapers of Southwest Virginia
Jim is a native Oregonian and lived there all his life until 2003 when he was promoted to a corporate director position with the Dow Jones Company in New York. He moved to Bristol in 2011. Prior to his career in publishing, Jim taught business and marketing at the high school and community college levels. He also coached football and basketball. He serves on the boards of directors for Bristol Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Bristol, Northeast State Community College Foundation, YMCA Bristol, Virginia Highlands Community College Foundation Board, and ASD. He has also previously served on the boards of Rotary Club of Bristol, Southern Appalachian Ronald McDonald House, Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts, NETWORKS – Sullivan County Economic Development Partnership and the Barter Theater Foundation. He holds a Bachelor of Science – Secondary Education/Business from Southern Oregon University.
Katie Morrell has served as a board member since 2013. Originally from Maryville, TN, She has resided in Bristol for 14 years. She attended the University of TN where she met her husband. The have two children Mary Catherine and Ram. She is a realtor and co-owner of Real Hot Yoga. Katie joined the board to help the tri-cities community invest in sustainability of a region that she loves. Her greatest joys in life are being with her family, cooking, helping people find the home of their dreams, and enjoying yoga of all kinds.
Dr. Deborah Slawson
East Tennessee State University
From childhood on, Deb has loved the Appalachian Mountains, and with her family’s move from Memphis to Johnson City in 2007, she fulfilled the dream of making this region home. She is a registered dietitian and an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health in the College of Public Health at ETSU. In that role, she focuses on advocacy and action for improved health and wellbeing for the people of the region. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Memphis with a focus on educational research and evaluation. As an expert in community-based health promotion planning, research, and evaluation, she has published and presented extensively on issues related to health and wellness. She brings insights gleaned from years of experience as a researcher and program evaluator, as well as an administrator tasked with health program implementation, assessment, and evaluation. In addition to her professional responsibilities, she enjoys time with family and friends, traveling, reading as well as getting her hands muddy – creating pottery!
Member at Large
Connie has been a member of the ASD Board for over 13 years and a member of the Development Committee since it’s inception. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and married to Dr. David Thompson, MD. Together they share a love of travel, and all things supportive of local. She shares ASD’s commitment to supporting healthy access across our region.
Cassa Von Kundra, Treasurer
Member at Large
Cassa served on the Finance Committee with ASD for years before joining the Board in 2015. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and a Master’s in Taxation, having recently retired from a career in taxation at an internationally-owned grocery story chain. She lives with her husband, Ron Edins, on two acres in Damascus VA. With an interest in sustainability, their home is powered by solar energy and utilizes a geothermal heat pump system. She enjoys studying herbal medicine and growing plenty of food on their beautiful land. Her three grown children (two live nearby) also take an interest in local, healthy food and living sustainably.