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Who We Are

Nancy Brooks

Nancy is a native of the area, and is in fact the seventh generation of her family to live in Tazewell County.  She has lived in areas all over the country but finds herself happily ensconced back at home now. Nancy is most content working as a glass artist and is a juried member of our organization In her craft, the medium may vary, but the act of “making”, that is converting one material into an entirely different form is what she finds most fascinating.  Nancy currently works in kiln formed glass and has fairly recently been exploring the potential of polymer and mixed media. She joined the board of ‘Round the Mountain in 2018.

 

Lou Wallace

Lou Ann Jessee Wallace (Lou) is a native of Russell County in Southwest Virginia living and working in St. Paul VA. She is owner and manager of Design Printers, an advertising and design company she created in 1991. Lou currently serves on the Russell County Board of Supervisors, the founding chairman of the board for St. Paul Tomorrow, Inc., and serves on numerous environmental organizations in Southwest Virginia. She has also served on the Clinch Valley Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors; was a gubernatorial appointment for the Virginia State Water Control Board; a certified master naturalist; and currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Clinch River Valley Initiative. Lou has a B.S. in Professional Communication and Business Management. She is a founding member of the Clinch River Farmer’s Market, and Lou currently serves on the Market Steering Committee.

 

Kevin Byrd

Kevin grew up in the triangle area of North Carolina and attended college at Appalachian State University.  In this time, he fell in love with the mountains.  Soon after completed graduate school at Virginia Tech in 2004,  he found Southwest Virginia to be a perfect fit for outdoor recreation and professional opportunities in community development. Kevin works as Executive Director of the New River Valley Regional Commission, focusing on community and economic development.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with my wife and 9-year old daughter.  Kevin has been with the ‘Round the Mountain board since 2006.

 

Diane Akers

Diane is from Roanoke, Virginia, but currently lives in the New River Valley.  She works as the President of The Blacksburg Partnership, an independent, non-profit organization focused on economic development and quality of life issues in Blacksburg.  In her free time, Diane loves everything outdoors – gardening, hiking, visiting wineries and being with family. Diane has been with the ‘Round the Mountain board since 2015.

 

David McLeish

David is from Massachusetts and moved to Meadowview, Virginia in July, 2002.  He and his wife Debbie run Dreamland Alpacas, an alpaca farm and store selling items that have been produced from the fiber of the alpacas. Some of the items available include socks, hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, yarn, roving and raw fiber just to name a few.  In his freetime, he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren. David recently joined the ‘Round the Mountain board in 2018.

 

Ellen Reynolds

Ellen has lived all over the world and fell in love with Wytheville, Virginia while living in NC and bought property here in 1992. She opened a lavender farm in 2001 and commuted on weekends until moving to southwest Virginia full time in 2010. Ellen now runs a Lavender Farm/ agritourism site and manufactures bath and body products.  She enjoys spending time around her gardens and creating new products. She works with natural media: dried flowers, lavender, and herbs. Ellen regularly speaks all over the eastern seaboard and loves to teach and help others start Lavender farms across the southeast. She has been on the board several years.

 

Becky Nave

Becky Nave serves as Development Specialist for the Blue Ridge Highlands and Heart of Appalachia regions of Southwest Virginia. She works with tourism industry partners to facilitate the development of community-based tourism programs, new product, and tourism-related businesses. Becky is responsible for providing strategic tourism planning, technical assistance, product development guidance, cooperative marketing advice and consulting services to communities in Southwest Virginia.

In her free time, Becky enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. Becky has over 15 years of experience in community and economic development. She is a graduate of King University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Becky has served on the Round the Mountain Board of Directors since 2017.

 

Hannah Martin

Hannah Martin has been a helicopter mechanic in the Marine Corps, a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy, and a theatrical stage manager in Portland, Oregon and New York City. She and her spouse currently live in Grayson County on a small homestead-style farm, where Hannah makes pottery in their basement studio. Hannah has been with the ‘Round the Mountain board since 2017.

 

Martha Biggar

Martha is a lifelong resident of Draper, Virginia in Pulaski County.  She and her husband own the farm next to her childhood home. Martha is a retired art teacher, mostly middle school, but continues to teach both through the Fine Arts Center in Pulaski and through private and public venues across the country.  She divides her time between creating jewelry and specialty farming. In her free time, she enjoys music, both listening and playing, and singing. Martha is a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, based in Asheville, NC, as well as the Association of Metal Clay Artists Worldwide.  She serves on the Board of the Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley in Pulaski and the Friends of the Farmers Market in Blacksburg.

 

Sandy Ratliff

Sandy is a seasoned economic developer with over 28 years of experience serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. She works with new and expanding businesses to offer startup consulting, entrepreneurial growth mentoring, support community revitalization and assist businesses to identify sources of capital to move their business plans forward. Before joining VCC, she worked as the Business Services Manager for the, Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), in the agency’s Abingdon office. Sandy has lead the creation of successful business support programs including the Social Media for Small Business, iPad for Business, iMarketing, eCommerce and Promotion, Technology in Business, Noon Knowledge Professional Development Series, Mobile Marketing, and the Entrepreneur Express Workshop. Prior to that role, she was the Director of Marketing for the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority for 15 years, a regional organization focused on economic diversification and job creation within the coalfields of Virginia.

Ratliff was appointed by Governor to serve as a commissioner on the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, member of the Virginia Economic Developers Association, Chair of the Mountain Empire American Red Cross Board of Directors, Member of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce Board and Chair of the Small Business Committee, Steering Team Member of My Southwest Virginia and Clinch River Initiative, Director of Online Outreach for First Christian Church of Abingdon and resides in Abingdon, VA. She received the 2011 YWCA Tribute to Women award, the 2012 Western Virginia

Workforce Development “Professional of the Year” award for her work in economic and community development, and the 2016 “High Tech in Government” award from the Southwest Virginia Technology Council.

 

Betsy White

Betsy White is the director of William King Museum of Art. She initiated its Cultural Heritage Project in 1994, which was a first-time survey of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee’s decorative arts and material culture before 1940.  The Project has resulted in almost 40 original exhibitions, a permanent collection and gallery, public archive and publications. She is the author of two books: Great Road Style: The Decorative Arts Legacy of Southwest Virginia & Northeast Tennessee, published in 2006 by the University of Virginia Press, and Backcountry Makers: An Artisan History of Southwest Virginia & Northeast Tennessee, published in 2013 by the University of Tennessee Press. She is a founding board member of ‘Round the Mountain.  

 

Debbie Yates

Debbie Grim Yates is originally from Pennsylvania and moved to southwest Virginia in 1973.  She keeps up her full time business in her home studio in Konnarock Virginia near Whitetop Mountain. Like most potters, Debbie quickly became addicted to the clay. Her love of the work and resulting quality of finished pottery has caused her business to grow each year. She works primarily with stoneware clay,making wheel thrown and ƒslab built functional and decorative pottery.

Explore Southwest Virginia Art!

Explore the wonderful world of art in Southwest Virginia. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Southwest Virginia is home to a vibrant community of artisans, artists, and craftspeople along with a diverse collection of shops and galleries and a bustling calendar of events. Get started exploring today!

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