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Community Forum |AKA Community Advisory Board (CAB)

The Blue Ridge Public Radio Community Forum is a volunteer group that provides community input to BPR about programming, public service and community engagement. The members of the Forum represent different backgrounds, geographic regions, and needs and interests of the listeners and the communities Blue Ridge Public Radio serves.

The BPR Community Forum is an advisory committee, which is not involved directly in the station's daily management or operations. Forum members learn about public radio, meet Blue Ridge Public Radio staff members, and have regular communication with the station about the needs of their local communities.  

The Community Forum is governed by a steering committee, responsible for basic organizational matters. It is comprised of a member of the BPR Board of Directors, 2-3 members of Forum, and one member from station management.

You may contact Blue Ridge Public Radio about the Community Forum by emailing feedback@bpr.org or calling  828-210-4800. If you are interested in joining the Community Forum, BPR will open applications in Fall 2022.

2022 meeting dates and times

Tuesday February 22, 2022 - 6:00-7:30 PM (Zoom)
Monday April 18, 2022 - 6:00-7:00 PM (Zoom)
Wednesday June 22, 2022 - 6:00-7:30 PM (Zoom)
October 26, 2022 - 6:00-7:30 PM (Zoom)

Members of the Community Forum:

Andrew Adams - Sylva (Term 2022/2023)

Dr. Andrew Adams is Director of the School of Music and Professor of Piano at Western Carolina University. He earned a Bachelor's in Piano from the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and his Master's in Vocal Coaching and Accompanying from the University of Illinois. He completed his Doctorate in Piano Performance at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Adams served as Vocal Coach and Director of Collaborative Piano at Iowa State University from 2003 to 2006 before moving to Cullowhee in 2007. He has published over thirty articles and reviews in Piano Professional (England), The American Music Teacher, The Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music, and the North Carolina Music Educator. He was a member of the editorial board ofThe Journal of Singing, the official publication of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, for twelve years. He recently served as editor of the Resource Handbook for Academic Deans: The Essential Guide for College and University Leaders to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in August 2022. 

Amanda Allen - Sylva (Term 2022/2023)

I am a Western North Carolina native; now, working, living and raising a family in Sylva. I am a human resources professional and currently work in public higher education. I grew up listening to public radio with my parents and now happily tune in to BPR daily, especially for shows like Marketplace; Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me; and It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders. I have been a member of the BPR Community Forum since 2020. 

Bill Alexander - Hayesville (Term 2022/2023)

I grew up on a dairy farm in Clay County near Hayesville, AA Young Harris College, BA Emory Univ. Had a 25 career as artist in Fiber: to feed my family did construction betimes. Did public and corporate commissions. Served on Southern Highland Guild Board 1997-2003. Wrote for ArtPapers, Fiberarts, MountainLife and other publications. Managed an indie bookstore 2000-2006, was a single gay parent of three kids, one foster, who have done great. Moved back to Hayesville from Blue Ridge GA to look after my parents. With my dad's passing 4/22/21 I'm looking for new projects. Community theater actor, classical music devotee, politically obsessed. I am a old hillbilly farmer (even if there a solar field where the dairy barn was) who knew RuPaul when he still had a rock band.

Kathleen Barnes - Brevard (Term 2022/2023)

I’m an old-fashioned unreconstructed journalist, passionate advocate for first amendment rights and a lifelong activist for social justice. I live in Brevard, NC with my husband, Joe Castro, three unruly dogs and a beautiful old horse named Rose.

I have worked as a correspondent in many exhilarating parts of the world, including the Philippines during the fall of Ferdinand Marcos (where I worked for ABC Radio and Television) and as CNN’s Africa correspondent based in South Africa during the time of transition from apartheid to black rule and the ascendency of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress. In addition to the People Power Revolution in the Philippines and the rise of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, I covered breaking news in Somalia, Mozambique and Zambia. I also covered North Africa from the Rome outpost for ABC Radio during the rise of Muammar Gaddafi. Upon our return to the US in 1993, I worked for CNN in Atlanta as an editor, producer and occasional on-air reporter.

Our retreat to the mountains of Western North Carolina in 1997 brought me to a brief stint as assistant city editor of the Greenville (SC) News. Two years later, I began to write natural health columns and articles for women’s magazines (Women’s World, First for Women, Alive and Natural Living) and then launched my small natural health publishing company, Take Charge Books. I’ve written a dozen or so books (I’ve lost count) and ghost-written dozens more. I intend to continue until it is no longer a challenge.

Since we moved to Brevard in 1998, I’ve become a fervent social justice advocate and am very active in the Transylvania NAACP. I’ve served at the branch secretary for eight years. I’m also a passionate voting rights advocate and have served in multiple ways to advocate for voting rights, including as a plaintiff in the current gerrymandering lawsuit now before the NC Supreme Court. 

Darius Keevon Baten - Asheville (Term 2022/2023)

I was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. I have always been interested in giving back to the community and entrepreneurship from the time I was young. In my free time I enjoy working out, reading, and playing with my goldendoodle Q-pid. 

Madison Brightwell - Weaverville (Term 2021/2022)

I am originally from England, and moved to the US in 1997, where I spent 21 years living in California before moving to the Asheville area in January 2019. I am a psychotherapist with a busy practice, working mainly with trauma, anxiety and depression. Before moving into the MH field, I worked all my life in entertainment, both as a performer and producer. I still love to act, sing and dance when I get the chance! Now live in Weaverville with my husband Ray, and cat, SmokeyJoe.

Kelly Brown – Glenville (Term 2022/2023)

Kelly Brown is a North Carolina native that has had the honor of living in several areas of this great state and has been a member of the Western North Carolina community for the past few years. Kelly has been involved in his community in a variety of ways since living here. Kelly has a deep love for the beauty of this region, its stories, culture, and the people that call it home. You can find him enjoying the many offerings of local businesses, sipping coffee, reading a book and/or laughing with friends. The best start to Kelly’s day is sipping coffee from a locally made mug and listening to Morning Edition!

Jemuel Colbourne - Asheville (Term 2022/2023)

Rick Devereaux - Asheville (Steering Committee; Term 2021/2022)

I grew up in Florida and Georgia, earned a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1978, and served 34 years in the Air Force, retiring as a major general in 2012. While in the military I was a pilot, commanded several organizations, and served on HQ staffs including four Pentagon assignments. After 9/11, I commanded a group that deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq to open and run airfields for U.S. military forces. After leaving the Air Force, my wife and I moved to Asheville and I opened a part-time defense industry consulting business and worked remotely for a tech startup firm in Texas. I serve on the boards of several community and veterans organizations including the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA (Past Chairman), the Blue Ridge Honor Flight, Salvation Army of Buncombe County (Chairman), the City of Asheville Civil Service Board, the Rotary Club of Asheville (Past President and Foundation Chair), the World Affairs Council of Western NC, the Advisory Group of the Center for Climate and National Security, and the Consensus Group of the American Security Project in Washington, DC.

Fred Hawley - Asheville (Term 2021/2022)

Professor Emeritus in Criminology, WCU; MA, LSU; PHD, FLORIDA STATE. I've been in WNC for 25 years. Native of Louisiana. Professional interests include violent crime, drug use and abuse, crime in the South, youth crime, theoretical criminology. I've taught 24 courses in my career!

Mary Jean Ronan Herzog - Weaverville (Term 2022/2023)

I moved to western North Carolina in 1974, before public radio began on the campus of UNCA and was an early adopter of WCQS. As a newcomer to the south and WNC, it was helpful balancing local news with the enlightened programing of WCQS. I’ve taught throughout WNC for 40+ years, first in Asheville City Schools, for a decade at Warren Wilson College and the last 25 years at Western Carolina University. I worked with teachers and school administrators throughout the region and developed research projects on issues facing urban and rural schools and communities. BPRs role in providing timely programming on regional issues and events is increasingly important as local newspapers decline.

Jenna Jaffe - Asheville (Term 2022/2023)

Jenna Jaffe has been performing music and dancing since she was a child. Some of her passions include collaborative performance art, singing in many genres including Romantic Art Song, Jazz, and learning to sing folk songs from all around the world. She has sung in over twelve languages and currently teaches song classes in several languages online. She has a vocal performance degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and has done graduate work at the University of Southern California. She was accepted at the New England Conservatory of Music for both the Voice and the Third Stream Studies Programs for her Master’s Degree. 

Jenna is a multi-instrumentalist and has been teaching music; piano, voice, composition, theory, history, for thirty years. Jenna specializes in teaching music with a holistic approach unique and tailored to each student. After many years of teaching and taking courses, Jenna incorporated Gender and Transgender Vocal & Life Coaching which she has been doing for over 21 years. 

In addition, she is a mixed media visual artist and has a studio at The Refinery on the South Slope in Asheville, North Carolina. Her focus is on honoring and revering Gaia/Mother Earth, the Divine Feminine, and fighting to save our planet. Jenna is a warrior for racial, gender, sexual equality, justice, and the preservation of our planet. Her art focuses on equality for all life.

Jenna is also an instructor of English as a Second Language (ESL/ELA) at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College. She has attended the accredited Graduate Institute in Education at Appalachian State University. Jenna is on the board of Asheville Area Piano Forum (AAPF), Girls Rock Asheville (GRAVL), and the WNC Music Teachers Association. She is the “point person” for the creator space: TheRefineryAVL.com. 

Jenna also gardens, studies languages, mindfulness, and energy healing (is a Reiki II Practitioner) in her spare time. You can see and hear Jenna perform regularly in Asheville and view her art in local venues. For more information, visit her at: https://linktr.ee/jennajaffe, www.consciouscreating.org and Instagram@jenna_jaffe. 

Lois Baptiste Kemper - Hendersonville (Term 2021/2022)

I started to listen to National Public Radio 40 plus years ago and have been an appreciative listener since. At that time, I lived with my family in rural West Virgina and NPR was often the only link to the wider world. I have fond memories of listening to serialized versions of Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables with our two young boys. I moved to North Carolina 7 years ago after retiring as a psychologist from a state psychiatric hospital in West Virginia. I also worked as a Department of Defense counseling psychologist at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks Alaska. While there, I worked with soldiers returning from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. I was a faithful listener of NPR while in Fairbanks and, when possible, on my long drive home. Since my move to North Carolina, I’ve worked part time at Black Mountain Neuro Medical Treatment Center and Blue Ridge Health Services. During this pandemic, I rekindled a long dormant interest in oil painting and am especially appreciative of the BPR’s arts and music coverage. When I first moved to the Asheville/Hendersonville area, I was delighted by the many live music events, such as Hendersonville’s Rhythm and Brews, The Brevard Summer Series, and the wonderful programming at Isis in West Asheville. I really enjoy listening to BPR’s one on one interviews with local musicians and artists.

Marta Martin - Asheville (Term 2021/2022)

Rachel Moore - Waynesville (Term 2022/2023)

Rachel Moore is a reporter and Western North Carolina native. A fierce advocate for public media, environmental justice and Appalachia, Moore has a background in journalism and communications. She currently lives in Waynesville with her husband and two cats. In her spare time, Moore enjoys cooking, hiking and — of course — listening to NPR.

Jacqueline Paritte - Asheville (Term 2021/2022)

I am originally from New Jersey. I have a background in avian ecology and lived in a number of states prior to completing my PhD in Ecology at the University of Oklahoma. I then went to Veterinary School at Oklahoma State University, graduated in 2010, and now I work as a veterinarian at the ASPCA in Asheville. I teach shelter medicine and spay/neuter surgery to veterinary students. I enjoy a variety of amateur artistic endeavors, love being outdoors, and enjoy reviving my 100 year old house in West Asheville with my husband and 2 cats.

Kathi Petersen - Swannanoa (Term 2021/2022)

An Asheville resident for four decades and a fan of BPR since before its current location on Broadway, Kathi Petersen is a public relations and communications veteran with experience that includes senior level positions at WLOS-TV, CarePartners, AdvantageWest Economic Development Group, The Collider, and her current role as Director of Public Information at Explore Asheville. She also previously ran a PR consultancy with clients that included businesses and nonprofits across the country in a wide variety of industry segments.

Rachel Sudnik - Black Mountain (Term 2022/2023)

Rachel moved to the Asheville area in 2013, from Cleveland, Ohio and put her roots down in Black Mountain in 2015. This quaint mountain town is exactly what she was looking for to raise her three girls, and the recent addition of her two nephews. As a student, she studied Ecotourism and Adventure Travel, Archaeology, and Environmental Education. She decided to shift her career focus from archaeology, historic preservation, and outdoor adventures to real estate to help support her three young daughters, while her chef husband continues his education in Occupational Therapy. Rachel has been a lifelong NPR listener and has been a contributor since her college years. She is excited for the opportunity to give back by being on this Forum!

Bill Walker - Highlands (Term 2020/2021)

I am a semi-retired real estate development lawyer, having practiced in Miami, Florida, for 50 years, and an ordained Episcopal Priest.  My wife Laura and I relocated fulltime to Highlands at the beginning or 2019.  We have three children and four grandchildren and we have both been dedicated NPR listeners and contributors for the last 40 to 50 years.   
John Colman Wood - Asheville (Term 2020/2021; Steering Committee 2021/Outgoing 2022)

John Colman Wood teaches anthropology and ethnographic writing at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is also a writer of fiction and a former newspaper reporter. Before returning to Asheville in 1999 he spent a number of years living and working in East Africa.