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Executive Committee Elections

Meet the Candidates

Cumberland Chapter

Meet our Chapter ExCom Candidates!

+ View our Chapter ExCom election slate and candidate biographies here

Candidate Slate

Ramesh Bhatt
Mary Cupp
Kim Luber
Judy Lyons

Candidate Biographies

Ramesh Bhatt

I am a professor at the University of Kentucky and have been a member of the Sierra Club for over 25 years. I was a member of the executive committee of the chapter for several years in the early 2000s when our chapter’s work on power plants, energy, and coal-related matters got going in earnest. I also support other conservation efforts that our chapter has engaged in over the years. However, going forward, I think an important goal for our chapter should be to reconnect with an original mission of the Sierra Club, namely facilitating responsible enjoyment of the outdoors.

Mary Cupp

Mary Cupp is a native Kentuckian, born in Owensboro, Daviess County. She attended Daviess County public schools, graduating in 1962. Her post-secondary education was at Murray State University, the University of Illinois, followed by graduation from the University of New Orleans in 1971 with a BS in chemistry education. She was a public school secondary math teacher in Hattiesburg, MS during the first two years of the school system’s forced integration, which was an eye-opening look at what the historically separate and unequal education had created. After a sabbatical as a full-time mother/homemaker, she returned to graduate education at Cornell University where she received the Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry in 1984. Her professional career primarily focused on biological research related to metabolic regulation of selenium (graduate work), regulation of lipoprotein lipase, a key enzyme controlling lipid metabolism (post-doctoral research), then 20+ years researching the control of pathogen transmission by biting insects conducted at Cornell University, the University of Arizona and Auburn University. She retired and returned to residency in Owensboro with her husband (and research partner) in 2006.

She has long had a passion for spending free moments outside among the rocks, trees and plants of the natural world and, with retirement from a busy laboratory program, has become more active in the Pennyrile Group of the Cumberland Chapter of Sierra Club. Returning to Kentucky after a long period away she is dismayed by the deterioration of the natural environment statewide, including the air, water and land quality. Although she supports a number of organizations committed to environmental preservation, she is especially impressed with the energy that Sierra Club members bring to their effort. If selected to serve as a member of the Cumberland Executive Committee she will strive to represent the goals of her local Pennyrile Group but with a vision to preserve the quality and viability of the natural world for all.

Kim Luber

Although my background in Economics, Commercial Real Estate Development and small business owner, is not the stereotypical Sierra Club hiker, Environmental activist, or “tree-hugger” background, I have found that it allows me the insight to balance the heartfelt issues of environmental stewardship with some of hard economic decisions the planet faces as population and global demands grow. Joining the Sierra Club for me was a way to “Think Global, Act Local”. Initially, I was active in the Northern Kentucky Group Conservation Committee helping with Filmfest and events such as Earth Day. Then I served as Communications chairperson working to keep our Group members informed of the actions and activities of the Group. Posting information in The Cumberland and the Convio are two of our most popular resources.

Most recently, for the past three years I have served as Chairperson for the Northern Kentucky Group. Without hesitation I would say that the Northern Kentucky Group is one of the most dynamic and hard-working group of individuals I have had the privilege of working with. It is because of this enthusiasm and inspiration that I am running to serve on the Chapter ExCom. I have seen the commitment and hard work of the Chapter Ex-Com and I would hope that I could contribute to the work and effort of the Chapter. I have taken part in the Sierra Club Leadership Program and I am a member of the Chapter Fundraising group. The knowledge and tools gained from these experiences will allow me to make meaningful contributions to the Chapter.

Judy Lyons

I am interested in serving a second term on the Cumberland Chapter Executive Committee, having been Vice Chair in 2013 and learning a lot from serving with our knowledgeable issue chairs and involving myself in activities, hearings and meetings. I have been on the committee for the Healthy Foods Local Farms conference for the past 7 years, and am very interested in having local, sustainably grown food available to people throughout the state. As an Outings Leader, my primary passion is spring wildflower walks, and I serve as co-hostess for the Louisville Group’s monthly social dinners. I am a frequent pen-pal with our legislative representatives on environmental issues, urging them to support clean water and air initiatives, fight mountaintop removal, support sustainable energy sources and preserve our national and state wild lands and wildlife.

A Chapter priority is the recruitment and engagement of younger people, building on their energy, advocacy and openness to change to tackle hard issues we face in this coal-based, CAFO-burdened, conservative state. As a retiree, I want not only to enjoy and preserve our natural world, but to ensure that it is there for my grandchildren. Continuing active involvement in Sierra Club leadership is an opportunity to use my time, organizational skills and enthusiasm for causes that matter.

Groups

Meet the Group Candidates!

+ Bluegrass Group

Candidate Slate

Donna DePenning
Judith Humble
Bill Pierskalla

Candidate Biographies

Donna DePenning

I have been a member of the Bluegrass Group for twenty-one years. During that time, I have held several offices. I am currently serving as treasurer for the group. I love our beautiful state and want to be a part of keeping it green. By serving as part of the Bluegrass Group’s Executive Committee, I can meet that objective plus get to work alongside people I admire and respect.

Judith Humble

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with 25 years of practice in the field of human behavior.  Members of my profession are seen first and foremost as “change agents, and we are trained to be effective facilitating change at the personal, institutional, community, and national level.  In the course of my career, I have been a constant student of change, and have engaged in thousands of conversations on this topic.

While I have a long-standing interest in environmental issues, my concerns about Climate Change have reached the level of alarm in the last two years.  As a result, I am now committed to becoming an activist on this issue, which I consider to be the most important crisis of our time. I have sought out books by the most highly recognized climate scientists in order to educate myself regarding the science.  My partner, Dr. Paul Vincelli and I, presented a poster on Climate Change Communication at the 2012 American Geophysical Union Conference, and we have co-authored a paper for a professional journal on this topic.  In addition, I have written letters to the editor, sent regular correspondence to the President and other political leaders, and joined the ranks of both the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council.

At the AGU Conference in December, I heard many internationally known climate scientists acknowledging that “the science is not enough” to mobilize our nation. Their new vision called for collaboration with the behavioral sciences, in hopes of finding strategies that will mobilize us in time.  I decided at that conference to dedicate the skills and knowledge I have acquired in my profession to this essential work.


Bill Pierskalla

I have been a member of the Sierra Club since 1990. In that time I have seen the club make great strides in protecting the air and water of Kentucky. The work is ongoing and it seems every year there is a new threat to our or the environment’s health. I hope that serving on the executive committee helps in those efforts. As I have little time currently to be active in other ways while I’m in school I’d like to continue serving on the executive committee to help direct the work of the Bluegrass Group in protecting our air and water.
+ Great Rivers Group

Candidate Slate

Claire Fuller
Dianna Riddick

Candidate Biographies

Claire Fuller

Serving our group on the Executive Committee has been a wonderful experience. It is great to get to know our members and help organize our activities. I would like to continue to do so.

Dianna Riddick

I would like to serve again on the Great Rivers Executive Committee. We have a wonderful group and I hope to see more of you at our meetings!
+ Louisville Group

Candidate Slate

Drew Foley
Barbara Hedspeth
Nicholals Johnson
Genie Mixson

Candidate Biographies

Drew Foley

Having just seen a Wendell Berry TV interview, I agree with him:  The universe is “holy” or, to me, sacred.  The universe includes elephants and mosquitoes, sharks and sea horses, deserts and forests, you and me.  We are all part of everything else.  We all evolved from the same primordial soup.  We are all cells of the same heavenly body.  Because I view this planet like a single body, so I believe that (you’ve heard this before!) what we do to Earth, we do to ourselves.  It is this worldview that I hope to exemplify and that has induced me to serve Sierra Club.

I have been on the Greater Louisville Group EXCOM for 4 years, the last two as co-chair.  I cannot boast a long list of accomplishments in this position…not even a short one, really.  About the best that can be said is that we have “held it together,” staying organized, maintaining existing programs, and responding to local environmental issues as they arise.  If elected, whether I remain co-chair or not, I pledge to work to keep the Louisville Group a healthy and productive member of the Cumberland Chapter team.


Barbara Hedspeth

I am a long time member of the Louisville Group and I have served on the group Executive Committee for the last six years.  My goal for our group is to continue to be a vital force in Louisville’s environmental community and to stimulate our members to engage in some of the important work we are doing in Louisville and the surrounding area.  I am particularly interested in expanding our tree canopy in Louisville and working together with other groups to plant more trees in the central city.


Nicholas Johnson

Environmental policy became an interest of mine as an undergraduate political science student, so I made an effort to become more involved in local environmental groups when I came to Louisville to finish my degree.  I have been involved in campus sustainability at DePauw University, University of Louisville, and statewide through my involvement with the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition. I have been participating in Cumberland Chapter and Louisville Group Sierra Club events since 2011, have been an official club member over the past year, and am now ready to take my participation to the next level by seeking membership on the executive committee.

My primary interest is in global climate change and energy.  In Kentucky, that translates directly into focusing on coal and fighting against a fracked future. My vision for the Louisville Group is to see more student and youth involvement, and to continue strengthening the group’s work on the political challenges facing the environmental justice issues of coal, carbon, and climate change.


Genie Mixson

I would like to be considered as a candidate for membership on the GLSC executive committee.

Although I have not been noticeably active in the club until this past year, I have supported environmental concerns from my early adulthood.  Now that I am retired and have started attending the meetings in Louisville, I realize that we have many (and diverse) challenges ahead of us.  Just being among so many like-minded persons is inspiring.  I know that I have much to learn.  Thankfully there are knowledgeable people in our group who are willing to share their experience.

I used to feel that writing letters to my political representatives was enough to consider myself “active” on environmental issues.  No more.  There is too much at stake!  I feel that some issues need us to call our representatives or show up in person to voice our opinions. This past year I have attended hearings on the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline, the new science education standards; and neighborhood meetings discussing tree plantings and reducing the amount of coal ash stored adjacent to one of our Louisville neighborhoods.

I am a goal-oriented person with the energy to follow through once committed.  As a member of the Executive Committee I expect to help our group set goals, prioritize them and create action plans to keep us on track to complete them.
I hope you will consider me for the next open slot on the GLSC Executive Committee.

+ Mammoth Cave Group

Candidate Slate

Eleanor Bower
Stephanie Morris
Eleanor Short

Candidate Biographies

Eleanor Bower

Eleanor B. has been a member of the Sierra Club since 2007 - according to her official membership card, but a life long member of environmental causes.  If it has to do with the Earth or Mother Nature, Eleanor B. loves it and is interested in it.  Eleanor B. is currently Chair of the Mammoth Cave Group in Bowling Green, and would like to continue to serve on the group Ex-Com.  She currently teaches part time ELL at  the Warren Co. Adult Education Center at SKYCTC in Bowling Green.  Beside Nature in general, Eleanor's top three passions go to trees, gardening, and reading.  If elected, Eleanor B. will continue to do whatever she can to grow the group in Bowling Green and reach out to anyone who is passionate about the Earth and it's well being.

Stephanie Morris

Stephanie Morris teaches part time at a community college, loves spending time outdoors, and enjoys being a member of the Mammoth Cave Group of the Sierra Club.

Eleanor Short

My name is Eleanor Short.  I reside in Bowling Green.  I have been an active member of the Mammoth Cave group of the Kentucky Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club for three years.  After considerable thought and soul-searching, I have decided to express my interest in serving on ExCom for our local group. 

Since participating in the Sierra Club, I have experienced opportunities to learn about our area, especially Lost River Cave, with whom we share a partnership.  This led to volunteer experiences at the cave and a greater appreciation of the need to preserve our local karst system.  Members of our group have led outings to Shanty Hollow Lake for canoeing, hiking, and clean-up.  This has instilled a greater awareness of protecting our water systems, as well as the areas that surround them.  Meetings have provided information about environmental issues not only affecting our area, but also in our commonwealth and nation.

Most of all, I have the pleasure of knowing some of the most amazing, knowledgeable, caring group of people I have ever known.   Hopefully, some life-long friendships have been made.    I hope by becoming an Ex Com member, I will be able to contribute my energy and interest in being a better steward for our environment, as well as making some pleasurable memories of this experience.

+ NKY Group

Candidate Slate

Jeff Hampton
Caitlin Sparks
Bill Thoeny

Candidate Biographies

Jeff Hampton

I am a graduate of NKU with a BA in History/Sociology, a Master's in Education with a Rank I teaching certificate.  I retired in 2003 after 27 years of teaching in the Covington School District.  Since retirement, I have been active in the Sierra Club, serving on the NKYG ExCom for several years, as Secretary to Ex-Com since 2005 and Chair of the Political Committee for the past 5 years.

I am also an active member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and an active member of the Simon Kenton Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.  I have been active in numerous local, statewide, federal Congressional and Senate and the past 3 Presidential elections.  I have written and published a book, Leaving Children Behind on Black Education in Covington and take courses in the OLLI program at the University of Cincinnati.  In my spare time I am an avid amateur historian and a voracious reader of history and biography.  I also belong to a Sherlock Holmes scion of the Baker Street Irregulars, the Tankerville club.



Caitlin Sparks

I am a native of Northern Kentucky.  I grew up in Boone County, spending most of my young life instructing equestrian students and training saddle bred horses at Little Britain Stables in Burlington.  From 2009 to 2011, I lived and worked in Yellowstone National Park.  For two years I hiked and cross country skied over the dynamic landscape.  This experience gave me a great appreciation for conservation as well as a heightened awareness for human-nature relationships.  In 2012, I received a BFA in inter-media visual arts from Northern Kentucky University.

I am in my community and environment with the Northern Kentucky Sierra Club, Covington Urban Forestry, the Local Food Action Team with Green Umbrella, and the Licking River Watershed Watch.  I am currently running a public outreach campaign and producing a documentary called “Civic Soil”, which will explore local food production and community gardens.  I am also producing and editing media with the NKU Visual Arts Department, and I am a volunteer media producer with the Civic Garden Center of Cincinnati.  I currently reside in the historic Mainstrasse Village in Covington, where I and my partner, JGray, work together as Numediacy, producing promotional and documentary media.


Bill Thoeny

I am interested in joining the Ex-Com of the Northern Group of the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club in order to get more involved with local environmental issues and to hopefully share my experience and knowledge of natural history and environmental science with other members of the group.  I am currently the Chairman of the Conservation Committee of the Northern Kentucky Group, I participated in an evening Insect Hike, and I am currently getting certified as an Outings Leader in order to lead future nature hikes.  I have assisted with the Sierra Club display booth at Earth Day and the campaign to eliminate the use of plastic grocery bags. I have also adopted a stream and participated in sampling events in support of the Licking River Water Watch program.

I have been a visiting biologist at summer camps and schools and have assisted with demonstrations of live insects with Cincinnati Zoo staff.  Additionally, over the years, I have become the “go to” nature guy for colleagues, friends, and family members who have questions relating to biology, natural and environmental science.

My scientific training includes a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Kentucky and a B.S. and M.S. in Biological Science from Eastern Kentucky University.  I have spent the last 22 years working as a contractor at the US Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati supporting studies concerned with the bioassessment of freshwater streams using aquatic invertebrates as indicator organisms of stream health.  These activities have included the taxonomic identification of the organisms as well as field collection.

I have a well-rounded view of environmental science and its importance to society.  I have established a strong network of scientists and science educators throughout the area with whom I meet with regularly, which helps me to stay informed about ongoing science issues.  I am also an avid gardener and interested in conservation and protection of native plants and animals.

+ Pennyrile Group

Candidate Slate

Rick Fowler
Donna Hanley
Peter Kobella
Amy Menze
Ben Taylor

Candidate Biographies

Rick Fowler

I am a 63 year old retired high school Math and Science Teacher. My degree was in Geology and I am concerned about the Earth. I have been the chair for the Pennyrile group for one year so many of you will be familiar with me from my e-mails. I am trying to convince OMU to build a solar farm to at least start converting to renewable energy. I believe we have a responsibility to clean up after ourselves.  I am running for the Ex. Com. for the Pennyrile group.

Donna Hanley

To whom it may concern. I am honored to be considered for a position on the Sierra Club, Pennyrile Group Ex Com.  Currently, I am the Treasurer. Thank you for your consideration.

Peter Kobella

Peter Kobella has been a member of the Sierra Club since 2009. He is an associate professor of Biology at Owensboro Community and Technical College. As part of his initiatives, he started and coordinated the campus-wide recycling program for plastic, paper, cans and cardboard. Since 2008, he has sponsored the Outdoor Association, a student club that specializes in organizing outdoor educational events for students and community. As a Sierra Club member, he is a volunteer water tester. Peter would like to see people’s concern for the health of this planet to go beyond their immediate environment of clean living rooms and beautifully mowed yards.

Amy Menze

I am a single mother concerned about the environment and what the future holds for my child. I like to work in my yard where I have vegetable and herb gardens in addition to berries and flowers. I try to do my part by composting, recycling, and spreading the word to others.

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor is a retired geneticist and a part-time farmer.  He served as Chair of the Pennyrile Group for about nine years and is currently the Vice Chair.  He is particularly concerned about global warming and overpopulation.

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