Community Forum | Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Blue Ridge Public Radio Community Forum is a volunteer group that provides community input to BPR about programming and public service. The 40 members of the Forum represent different professions, geographic regions, and individual 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, three members of Forum, and one member from station management.

If you believe you would make a good Community Forum member, please complete the online application form by clicking Community Forum Application. You may contact Blue Ridge Public Radio about the Community Forum by emailing feedback@bpr.org or calling  828-210-4800.

Members of the Community Forum:

AMANDA ALLEN - Sylva

I am a Western North Carolina native; currently working, living and raising a family in Sylva. I work at Southwestern Community College and am pursuing a Master's Degree from Western Carolina University. 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.

MADISON BRIGHTWELL - Weaverville

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.

KATIE CORNELL - Asheville

Katie Cornell is the Executive Director of the Asheville Area Arts Council. She is also the President of the Western Arts Agencies of North Carolina, and the Chair of both the City of Asheville’s Public Art & Cultural Commission and the ArtSpace Charter School Board.

ALEX DEUTSCH - Asheville

I moved to the area in 2010 for grad school at WCU and am currently employed as a school psychologist here in western North Carolina. I am a musician who plays in two bands in and around Asheville.

RICK DEVEREAUX (Steering Committee) - Asheville

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.

ANDREW FLETCHER  - Asheville

Andrew Fletcher is a professional pianist specializing in pre-war American styles, most notably stride piano, that has been actively performing in Western North Carolina for 10 years before the worldwide COVID-19 crisis. Now on an involuntary pandemic sabbatical, he is finishing a degree in Economics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and volunteers with non-profits and municipal government. He is currently the Acting Chair of the City of Asheville’s Downtown Commission, a Commissioner with the City of Asheville’s Public Art and Cultural Commission, Chair of Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Community Forum, an advocate withe Asheville Buskers Collective and serves on the non-profit boards of the Asheville Music Professionals and the Nina Simone Project based out of his hometown of Tryon, NC. In his spare time he enjoys restoring his vintage BMW and taking care of his six backyard chickens.

ORRIN GOURE - Candler

Born and raised in WNC, I have lived in the region all my life. I work in the forest products industry and am passionate about the benefits of responsible forest management. I live in Candler with my wife and kids.

FRED HAWLEY - Asheville

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!

DAVID HOPES - Asheville

HUGH HUNTINGTON - Weaverville

A Charlotte native moving to Asheville by way of Taos, NM. My profession concentrated on teaching organizations how to manage change and resolving conflicts between management and labor. After retirement, I entered the property management business with my two daughters.

PATI JABLONSKI - Hendersonville

I live in Hendersonville, having moved hear a year ago from 30+ years of living in Arizona. My career has been in healthcare since the 1980s and I currently offer Holistic Healing modalities to clients, as well as RN Advocacy services. I’ve lived in many places and enjoy the hiking, water sports and outdoor opportunities with my husband and fur friend, in WNC, especially the waterfalls!

ROBYN JOSEPHS - Black Mountain

Living and loving the beautiful mountains of Western NC, advocate for women and children experiencing abuse, community advocate for civic engagement and Social Media community manager.My leisure hours are spent outside and as a multi media artist and creative educator.

LOIS BAPTISTE KEMPER - Hendersonville

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. 

GEORGE LANGE

MARTA MARTIN - Asheville

KENNETH NELSON - Asheville

JACQUELINE PARITTE - Asheville

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

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.

ANGELA PRODICK (Steering Committee) - Hendersonville

Angela has been the Executive Director of Blue Ridge Humane Society for the past two years. Prior to her move to WNC, Angela worked as the Humane Education Manager at Lollypop Farm Humane Society of Greater Rochester NY. She currently serves on United Way of Henderson County's Basic Needs Advisory Panel, Henderson Count Animal Advisory Board, Hendersonville Animal Services Committee, and as the Board Chair for the Hendersonville Community Coop.

RALPH SIMPSON - Asheville

CASEY TAK - Arden

I am faculty with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy. I conduct research on the areas of perinatal substance use, contraception, and the role of pharmacists on healthcare teams. I live with my spouse and two children in Arden.

BILL WALKER - Highlands

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.

SHANNON WATKINS - Asheville

STEPHANIE WILKINS - Swannanoah

ALLY WILSON - Asheville

Ally Donlan Wilson serves as the Director of Development for Pisgah Legal Services. She has more than 15 years experience working in the nonprofit sector, including with the Appalachia Service Project, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Warren Wilson College. Ally received her bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University and holds a Master’s of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill. She lives in West Asheville with her husband, two boys and rescue dog, Paddington.

JOHN COLMAN WOOD (Steering Committee) - Asheville

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.