Chair, Board of Directors/Program Committee Chair Kathy Weisfeld, M.A., worked for Blue Ridge Mental Health. She now volunteers with Yancey Hospice, Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center and, of course, Carolina Mountains Literary Festival. Her poems have been published in Great Smokies Review and WNC Woman. She was chosen to be mentored by NC Poet Laureate, Joseph Bathanti, as part of the 2011 Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series. Her poem “Equinox” won second place in the 2013 Writers’ Workshop of Asheville National Contest. She has called the mountains of North Carolina her home for 30 years.
Board 1st Vice-Chair/Program Committee Amber Westall Briggs, MLS, is a public librarian, which means she is surrounded by books & people of all ages almost every single day. Her work has taken her as far away as Finland and opens new doors every day. It’s just about the most perfect career on the planet! Never one to shy away from a challenge, she believes library work is similar to detective work, so occasionally you may see her sporting her spy moustache. She volunteers in her community as a Parkway Playhouse Board member, Program Committee member of the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival (obviously), and as head coach for a local Girls On the Run team. When she’s not reading, journaling, gardening, chatting with kids (her favorite humans), beekeeping, chicken whispering, or daydreaming about puttering, you can find her at the AMY Regional Library System scheming up new programs.
Board 2nd Vice-Chair Lucy Gregory Doll began her love affair with books when she started reading at age three. This is her thirteenth year with the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival. She is the office manager for an electronics firm that repairs circuit boards for commercial laundry machines. Her former lives include being a Long Distance Operator back in the days when one dialed ‘O’ to call long distance or the police, administering the public service programs at the venerable National Theatre in Washington, DC (where she lived on a houseboat) and being retired. She is founder and director of Burnsville’s Read It & Weep Repertory Theatre, a local political activist, a sometimes-writer, and rescue-dog lover. Her perfect world would be free of televisions.
Board Treasurer Jane Brown Willig has loved the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival since its inception, working the first few grants through the non-profit that stewarded the festival before it became its own non-profit in 2016. She has handled grant writing, management, event implementation, fundraising and finances for local non-profit organizations. She is currently consulting with a company that specializes in inter-generational learning and communication. Jane lives in the South Toe Valley of Yancey County, with her husband, Matt, a metalsmith. Jane enjoys reading, hiking the beautiful woods surrounding her home, traveling and spending time with her grown children.
Program Committee Caroline Green Christopoulos is Malaprop’s sidelines buyer. She has a great deal of fun discovering things that aren’t books that Malaprop’s carries- look to her for cards, journals, art supplies, kitchen knick-knackery, fancy pens, calendars, stickers, art prints, figurines, and other odds and ends! She is totally into “genre” fiction these days, dabbling in fantasy, romance, and mystery. Where have these books been her entire life? In her non-working moments she plays with her husband Zeke and their dog Tiny Cakess, sings with the Asheville Choral Society, works with the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, loves to cook and eat,drink scotch, laugh and talk about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
Volunteer Coordinator Chris Holobek is a grade 4 math teacher living in Indiana, but mentally living on the mountain outside of Burnsville. He bought a house near Bee Log several years ago and is inching closer to becoming a full-time resident. You might see him selling donuts this summer! He has been attending the festival for the last two years, and this year wanted to do something more than be wowed with the guest authors who attend. If you are interested in taking part in this year’s festival, or even next year’s, contact him – he can get you hooked up! With 34 years of teaching behind him (grades 3 – 7), he utilizes all of his down time to read, hit a bookstore, watch movies, or head to North Carolina to sit on his front porch to listen to the creek. While not a writer, he’s written three text books, teaching English to Finnish children (as you do).
Program Committee Carol Clark is Professor Emerita of Economics at Guilford College, in Greensboro, NC where she taught economics, interdisciplinary studies, women studies and writing across the curriculum for 18 years. At Guilford, she designed and led a semester abroad program taking undergraduate students to Mexico to study at the University of Guadalajara and work in low-income communities to learn about the Mexican model of Community Development. Before Guilford, she lived and worked for three years doing economic research for the World Bank and as a Post-Doctoral research fellow for the Rockefeller Foundation in Guatemala, Central America. She retired to Yancey County in 1999 (having spent summers, spring and fall breaks and every weekend possible there from 1983-1999).
She has written academic articles, numerous newspaper articles and professional opinion pieces on current economic policy issues, published in WNC Woman, and received the Grand Award in Excellence in Feature Writing category, CASE District III, for her vignettes titled Tres Historias. Currently she is writing a book (provisionally titled Agua y Luz—Water and Light) in which she recounts stories Mexicans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans told her husband (Tom) and her about their lives, hopes for their children, and nonviolent efforts to create more just and democratic societies. It is part memoir and part teaching in which she sets the stories in their economic, political, religious, and historical contexts. An excerpt (titled Children at the Border) from the book will appear in the Spring issue of the Great Smokies Writing Online Review. She sits on the Reconciliation House Board and has tutored for the Yancey Literacy Council.
Board Member Myrna Stephens, Ph.D. , a retired audiologist, moved to Burnsville in 2001. She is one of the founders of the LitFest and served on the Board for nine years. After a two year break, she returned to the Festival Board this year. She is active in the community serving on the Board of Parkway Playhouse and as Vice Chair of the Mountain Piecemakers Quilt Guild. In addition to reading, she enjoys quilting, knitting, golf, travel, and spending time with her grandchildren.
Graphics and Publicity Britt Kaufmann continues to be a stay-at-home mom of three school-aged children.. She writes poetry, plays, and has been working on a book idea for over two or three years now. Additionally, she designs websites, logos, and help directs a children’s choir at church. And, as if that weren’t enough, she is preoccupied with gardening, sewing, playing with the dog, watching the chickens, photography, and has started running. (She hates running, though, and only does it so she sleeps better at night. She’d rather be playing volleyball to stay in shape.) Her poetry and prose have appeared in various publications: Kakalak Poetry Anthology (2007 & 2008), Main Street Rag, WNC Magazine, Now & Then, WNC Woman, The Mennonite and The Pedestal Magazine among others. A founding planner, the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival keeps her busy with web and ad design. She also hosts Eve’s Night Out, a monthly open-mic poetry reading in Burnsville. Her first full-length play, An Uncivil Union: The Battle of Burnsville (a romantic comedy set in the middle of actual events that occurred in Burnsville during the Civil War) was produced as a part of the Parkway Playhouse’s 2011 season. Her second play Between the Tackles, written with Stephanie Stark-Poling premiered in September of 2012 on the same stage. She was awarded a 2012 Regional Artist’s Project Grant to aid the completion and production of this play.
Archivist Jennie Boyd Bull recently retired to the mountains of Western North Carolina, following careers as an editor, writer, librarian, bookstore manager and archivist with nonprofits in Maryland and New York State. Born in Knoxville, TN, she is grateful to return home to the southern mountains. She enjoys teaching Tai Chi and Qigong, hiking, gardening, weaving, reading and writing. Her poetry has been published in Western NC Woman and ENO, Duke’s environmental literary magazine, and she is currently working on a memoir. Jennie set up the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival office in 2016, to create an archive of 12 years of the festival’s inspiring authors, events, and celebrations of mountain culture.
Board Member Yancey County native Jamie McMahan has been an avid reader since he was a small kid growing up in the Pensacola community, and has been addicted to book collecting for almost as long. A long-time employee of local attorney Donny Laws, and county planner since 2008, Jamie is active in numerous civic organizations in Yancey County and enjoys spending his free time hiking and fishing and, of course, reading. A member of the William Faulkner Society and the Thomas Wolfe Society, Jamie has a passion for the culture and literature of the American South, particularly his native Western North Carolina. He is excited to be on the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival planning team.
Program Committee member Deana Blanchard says though she was born in western Pennsylvania 1939, shortly after Germany invaded Poland, her real life began in 1973, when she left her first husband in New Jersey, drove her three kids back to Pennsylvania so she could complete her MA in American Lit. The next fall they were in Jamaica where she taught secondary school for two years. She was seeking adventure and found plenty of it. After moving on to Boulder CO, where she became a professional craftswoman, she found the true love of her life, Chuck Young, now her husband of 37 years and partner at Selena Glass & Metal. Ready to head out on the road again, they moved to Yancey County in 1993, where she expects to live the rest of her life.
The one constant in her peripatetic life has been and will always be books, books, books! Reading, reading, reading!