Dr. Darin J. Waters – Dr. Darin J. Waters is the Executive Director of the Office of Community Engagement, and an Associate Professor of History at UNC Asheville in Asheville, North Carolina. As a professor, Dr. Waters teaches courses in American history, North Carolina History, Appalachian History, African American and Brazilian History. He also specializes in the history of race relations in both the United States and Latin America. In his role as the Executive Director of the UNC Asheville Office of Community Engagement, Waters works closely with campus and community leaders, representing an array of community based organizations, to strengthen and build new partnerships for and with the university.
Waters is the co-host of The Waters and Harvey Show on Blue Ridge Public Radio. He currently serves as a member of The North Carolina Historic Markers Commission, the board of the National Blue Ridge Heritage Area, the board of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial of Historic Asheville, and the North Carolina Civil War History Center. Find out more about his work at darinwaters.com
is the Executive Director of the Office of Community Engagement, and an Associate Professor of History at UNC Asheville in Asheville, North Carolina. As a professor, Dr. Waters teaches courses in American history, North Carolina History, Appalachian History, African American and Brazilian History. He also specializes in the history of race relations in both the United States and Latin America. In his role as the Executive Director of the UNC Asheville Office of Community Engagement, Waters works closely with campus and community leaders, representing an array of community based organizations, to strengthen and build new partnerships for and with the university.
Waters is the co-host of The Waters and Harvey Show on Blue Ridge Public Radio. He currently serves as a member of The North Carolina Historic Markers Commission, the board of the National Blue Ridge Heritage Area, the board of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial of Historic Asheville, and the North Carolina Civil War History Center. Find out more about his work at darinwaters.com.
Kimberlee Archie – Kimberlee Archie has been with the city of Asheville since July 2017 serving as the City’s first-ever Equity and Inclusion Manager. Her undergraduate degree in social welfare is from the University of Washington and her graduate degree in education with a concentration in training and performance improvement is from Capella University.
Kimberlee’s career and experience positions her to lead City efforts to support a diverse and inclusive community. From a career that began in Washington state in the mental health field, Kimberlee went on to become a Family Support Director for a youth service bureau and she directed an early learning and youth development initiative for the United Way of King County. Kimberlee’s focus on racial equity and social justice began through her work at an Annie E. Casey Foundation Making Connections site and deepened as the Deputy Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.
She has facilitated workshops, taught courses and presented at conferences on subjects such as inclusive public engagement, race and equity, leadership development, strategic planning and cultural competence. Kimberlee’s passion is to facilitate and support the growth and development of others.
As the Equity and Inclusion Director, Kimberlee works with internal and external partners, nonprofits, the public and stakeholders to establish the use of an equity lens in all City programs and policies. Kimberlee has instituted and organized an Equity Core Team of City employees representing all departments who are ambassadors, leaders, organizers and facilitators and implements a strategic action plan to advance a Racial Equity Framework.
Cortina Jenelle Caldwell – Cortina Jenelle Caldwell (pronouns: she/they) is a queer, Two-Spirit descending from generations of Southern, West African, Latinx & Native American peoples. Cortina is an artist, activist, community organizer, creative facilitator, social designer, and communication architect. Above all, Cortina thrives in spaces where creativity and community are present. Cortina currently serves as the Founder & Creative Director for Artists Designing Evolution, LLC (adé PROJECT); Program Coordinator for WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition; and highly-sought freelancer in roles as facilitator, consultant, motivational speaker, trainer and writer.
Since 2007, Cortina has designed trainings, workshops, programs, and events centered on authenticity, community building, creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership across the Southeast. In that time, Cortina has worked alongside nonprofits, entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, artists, festival producers, conference organizers, small businesses and activists alike. Cortina holds a Master of Arts in Management & Leadership; a Bachelors of Science in Business, Education & Social Science; and is a Certified Creative Facilitator through PYE Global (Partners for Youth Empowerment). Throughout her career, Cortina has received recognition as the WNC Minority Enterprise Development’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year (2012); 40 Under Forty: Asheville (2013); and inductee to Leadership Asheville (2014). Cortina has served on numerous Boards and Advisory committees, including MLK Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County; YMCA 21st Century Horizons Program; Asheville Area Arts Council; Bele Chere; and Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Ultimately, Cortina’s work is fueled by her personal mission – to shift community, business and organizational culture through authenticity, creativity, entrepreneurship, equity, and collective leadership.
Tiffany Flunory DE’Bellott – Tiffany Flunory DE’Bellott is the Program Co-Director of In Real Life (IRL) after-school network. IRL is a coordinating network of real life experiences and opportunities for middle school youth after school. This network is a program of the Asheville City Schools Foundation where Tiffany has been an employee for five years. Tiffany was born in Brooklyn, NY and relocated to Asheville in the winter of 1997. As a young woman and single mother Tiffany displayed grit and determination to succeed. In 2010 she graduated with her Bachelors in Psychology from the College of New Rochelle. Shortly after Tiffany dedicated her life to youth development and community activism.
Sitting on various boards and grassroots organization planning committees afforded Tiffany sharp leadership skills vital for economic mobility and community engagement. Hood Talk, Green Opportunities, Asheville Writers in The Schools and Communities, Asheville Parks and Rec advisory Board, and recently, Asheville Human Relations Commission are a few of Tiffany’s affiliations. She believe these resources are tools to help bring the voices of those less heard, to the table. Tiffany has two daughters who often accompany her to community events. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, arts and crafts, and spending quality time with family and friends. If you would like to know more about Tiffany, follow her on Facebook.
Jillean McCommons – Jillean McCommons is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History at the University of Kentucky. She completed her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, taught English as a Second Language in rural Northeastern Brazil, earned a M.A. in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies with an emphasis in Afro-Brazilian history from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2003, and a M.S. in Information from the University of Michigan in 2007. Prior to returning to graduate school in 2017, she worked as a public librarian in Michigan, California, Minnesota, and Kentucky. She currently researches the political and cultural history of Black Appalachians during the Black Power era.
Rasheeda McDaniels – Rasheeda McDaniels grew up in Asheville, NC and received two degrees in Biology and Social Work from UNC Greensboro, and a Masters in Social Work from Temple University. While an undergraduate, McDaniels was a youth counselor for a girl’s group home supervised by Youth Focus, Inc. During graduate school, she worked in a dual diagnose behavioral health agency, North East Community Mental Health. In addition, she worked for the Cosby Academic Posse Program (CAPP) program in Philadelphia, tutoring Biology and conducting youth groups to address social policy and issues in the Philadelphia community. Currently, McDaniels is the supervisor for the Buncombe County Community Engagement Team and has been employed by the County for 14 years. She loves to work with people and neighborhoods impacted by race, poverty and trauma. Her ability to beauty in all aspects of our community motivates her to give support to many. McDaniels is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. and spends her time building relationships and organizing community efforts to make Buncombe County a better place to live.
Cicero M. Fain III – Dr. Cicero M. Fain III is a professor of history at the College of Southern Maryland and author of several books including “Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story” and “The Forging of a Black Community: Huntington, West Virginia, 1870-1900.”
Gene Hyde – Gene Hyde is Head of Special Collections and University Archivist at the University of North Carolina Asheville. He has managed Appalachian special collections and archives for over a decade, and has graduate degrees in Appalachian Studies and Information Sciences. He collaborated with Dr. Darin Waters and Dr. Ken Betsalel on “In-Between the Color Lines With a Spy Camera: The Appalachian Urban Folk Photography of Isaiah Rice.”
Sarah Judson – Dr. Sarah Judson is Associate Professor of History at UNC Asheville. She earned her PhD in History from New York University. Her current scholarship looks at intersecting issues of race, class and gender in the era of the black freedom struggle and urban renewal in Asheville, NC. Of particular interest, is the influence of black power discourses on local Great Society initiatives for African American rights and representation. Dr. Judson teaches classes in US Women’s History, African American History, Oral History, Urban History and Southern History.
Deborah Miles – Deborah Miles’ experience spans a lifetime of work to open doors and remove barriers for greater equity and inclusion – interpersonal, institutional, and systematic.She has been recognized for work and collaborations including the 2005 Nancy Susan Reynolds Award from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for Race Relations and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2018.
Raised in southern Arkansas, Miles moved to Asheville, NC following graduation from Hendrix College in 1975 with a degree in Elementary Education. In 1995, she founded the Center for Diversity Education at the Jewish Community Center which later fully affiliated with UNC Asheville in 2013. The work of the Center focuses on K-12 schools, UNC Asheville, and the broader community. After retirement from UNC Asheville in 2018, Miles continues to advocate for greater equity and inclusion including examining how to remove the ways that white supremacy is embedded in the work place.
Miles lives with her husband Marc Rudow in Asheville, NC with regular visits to Austin, Texas and Washington DC to be with their children and grandchild. Pastimes include reading, gardening, walking, and dancing.