About The Organization

The Wilma Dykeman Legacy was founded as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in 2012 to honor Wilma Dykeman's extraordinary life, and to sustain her core values of environmental integrity, social justice, and the power of the written and spoken word.  Everything we do is guided by those values.
Core Values
Environmental Integrity
Wilma learned at an early age that everything is connected: water, plants, animals, humans, the planets and the stars.  She advanced environmental thinking by proposing in 1955 that environmental sensitivity encourages broad-based economic development. We feature and support ideas, individuals, and organizations that act with environmental integrity.
Wilma was a feminist who wrote under her maiden name, an early civil rights advocate in the South, and an Appalachian scholar and activist who lifted up mountain people. We work to dismantle racial and class inequities, which are strangling our country.
The Power of the Written and Spoken Word
From her childhood home in a mountain cove just north of Asheville, North Carolina, Wilma connected to the world through books and reading aloud with her parents.  She grew into an excellent writer and world-class speaker, using both modes to strengthen and broadcast her messages. We honor writing and speaking to clarify and promote social and environmental justice.
In The Beginning
The Wilma Dykeman Legacy begins operations in the Asheville, North Carolina metro area as a non-profit organization sustained primarily by individual donations and the volunteer work of a community board.
The Legacy begins a continuing partnership with the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site to discuss every one of Thomas Wolfe's short stories.
Environmental Efforts
The Legacy partners with Buncombe County Public Libraries to produce Water Troubles and Water Solutions: Western North Carolina Water in Context, a series of talks by water experts describing how other areas of the country and the world are addressing their water challenges.
Dykeman LegacyPress
The Dykeman Legacy Press publishes its first book, Walter Ziffer's Confronting the Silence: A Holocaust Survivor's Search for God.
The first annual Hot Springs Teacher Institute trains nine middle school and high school teachers to teach Pride of Place.
10 Years
The Legacy celebrates its 10th anniversary - and Wilma Dykeman's 102nd birthday anniversary - through storytelling, poetry, and music at Black Wall Street's 8 River Arts Place in Asheville, North Carolina.
Board of Directors

Jim Stokely grew up in Newport, Tennessee and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with exceptional distinction in American Studies.   He later received an MBA from Stanford University, and embarked upon a 25-year corporate career in Human Resources for The Hay Group, Brown-Forman Corporation, and Sylvania.  In 2011 he and his wife Anne moved back to the southern mountains and now live in Weaverville, North Carolina.  He is the author of Constant Defender: The Story of Fort Moultrie and co-author of Mountain Home: A Pictorial History of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Diane has more than 20 years of experience in accounting with an emphasis in nonprofit and residential construction accounting. Diane has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Nevada and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Finance from Northern Arizona University. When not crunching numbers, Diane loves hiking, gardening, and volunteering. Diane is passionate about environmental preservation and social justice causes and was drawn to WDL to support Wilma’s work. Diane and her husband, JP, share their home with three spoiled dogs.


Elaine Smyth moved to Asheville with her husband, David Smyth, in August 2014, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she served as Head of the Louisiana State University Libraries’ Special Collections division and interim Dean of Libraries. A graduate of the Colorado College, she earned her Master of Librarianship from the University of Washington.  While at LSU, she worked to promote social and environmental justice through the use of archival materials, including the digital project “Free People of Color in Louisiana: Revealing an Unknown Past”.  She enjoys hiking, throwing pots, and gardening, and also volunteers with the Botanical Gardens at Asheville.


Aisha Adams is the founder of the consulting firm Equity Over Everything. She has played a pivotal role in training equity advocates; fostering inclusivity; cultivating policy, practice, and procedural changes; and influencing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2020 she received the Tzedeck Impact Award, the WomanUP Women Entrepreneur Best in Business Award, the Jane Renfroe Coach of the Year Award from Mountain Bizworks, and the Martin Luther King Award from the MLK Association of Asheville and Buncombe County. Her other ventures include hosting “The Asheville View” talk show and managing “Nappy Thoughts,” a personal blog followed by thousands on social media. Aisha earned her BA degree in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her MS degree in Adult Education.


A native of Western North Carolina and a graduate of Western Carolina University, Becky Anderson has worked in community and economic development as Founding Director of Buncombe County Child Development, Director of Community Development for Land of Sky Regional Council of Governments, Asheville Downtown Development Director, and Industrial Recruiter for the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.  Committed to the region's cultural heritage, she helped establish HandMade in America and served as Founding Director. She also serves on the boards of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, and Friends of the Western North Carolina Museum of History.

Bashford Epsen

Kate Bashford Epsen lives in Asheville and has dedicated her career working to advance clean energy and climate policy. Currently she is a project manager for a statewide clean energy workforce development program at Appalachian State University. Prior to moving here, she was a policy advisor for New England’s electric grid operator, as well as the Executive Director of New Hampshire's leading renewable energy advocacy and educational non-profit. She also had a brief stint as a pig farmer. Kate has an MA in energy policy from Columbia University and a BA in environmental and economic policy from Boston University.


Ellen Carr is a high-yield portfolio manager at Barksdale Investment Management, a majority-women-owned company.  She is also an adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School, as well as a board member of the National Public Radio Foundation, the UNC Asheville Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.  Ellen has a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from Northwestern University. She recently co-authored Undiversified: The Big Short in Investment Management, a book on women in investment management.  Ellen splits her time among Asheville, rural Tennessee, and New York.  She has one son, two cats, and a pandemic puppy.


Anne Chesky is the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat, North Carolina. She most recently served for four years as the Executive Director of the Western North Carolina Historical Association (now the Asheville Museum of History), preceded by eight years as the Executive Director of the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Anne received her BA degree from UNC Asheville and holds MA degrees from Appalachian State University and the University of Georgia. She has published a number of local history books and writes a history column for the Asheville Citizen-Times.  In 2022 Anne received the Historic Resources Champion Award from the Historic Resources Commission of Asheville and Buncombe County.


As a high school English teacher for over a decade, Dan Clare is a passionate public educator dedicated to Wilma Dykeman's belief in the power of the written and spoken word. After earning a BA in English from James Madison University and an MEd. from George Mason University in Virginia, Dan and his family relocated from Washington, D.C. to Asheville in 2015. When not in the classroom, Dan can be found performing music at local breweries, hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway, running, reading, and consuming vast quantities of steaming coffee on the sofa with Blanche and Rose (his family's two corpulent kitties) looking on. As a champion of "the power of place," Dan enjoys integrating Appalachian voices--from Thomas Wolfe to Wilma Dykeman to Frank X. Walker--into his English curriculum in the literature courses he teaches at Asheville High School.


Sharon Fahrer is a recovered New Yorker with a background in geography and environmental planning, now reinvented as a local historian.  She co-founded History@Hand with Jan Schochet to document the history of Jewish businesses in downtown Asheville, creating The Family Store exhibit, book and walking tour. Since then, she lectures extensively and has written more than 30 interpretive history panels located throughout Asheville, as well as several books on Asheville’s Jewish history. She also leads history walking tours in downtown Asheville, Biltmore Village, Montford, and Riverside Cemetery. Sharon serves on the board of several nonprofits, including over 9 years with the Legacy.


Dr. Joseph Fox is the owner of Fox Management Consulting Enterprises, LLC.  He possesses an Ed.D. and an M.B.A. from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Pfeiffer University, Misenheimer, NC. Dr. Fox also possesses the Professional in Human Resources Management (PHR) National Certification, Global Achieve Leadership Training Certification, the Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) Certification, and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certification. He is a life-long educator, mentor, and community advocate.


Jonathan McCoy is Director of Mars Hill University’s Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. He earned a BA in History and Political Science from Mars Hill College in 1992, an MA in History from North Carolina State University in 2000, and a Teacher Certification in Secondary Social Studies Education from East Carolina University in 2004. From 1992-2018 Jonathan worked in several high schools in the Durham County and Wake County Public Schools systems. He instructed at-risk students and coached football, wrestling and track. In 2018 he returned to his alma mater to teach history, and he continues to teach courses on World Geography/Regional Conflicts and North Carolina History & Government.


Dr. Alison Ormsby is the Forest Specialist with Adventure Scientists, an international community-based conservation organization. She was a professor of Environmental Studies for 20 years and has had a variety of other work experiences – as an environment/parks Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, a Fulbright scholar in India researching sacred forests, a journalist with the United Nations reporting on environmental treaties, and an educator with the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society.  Alison’s research interests include forest conservation, environmental education, ecovillages, park management, biocultural conservation through sacred natural sites, and global sustainability.  She has lived, conducted research in, and/or traveled to over 50 countries. 


Daniel S. Pierce is the author of seven books, including Tarheel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World (UNC Press, 2019) and, most recently, Illustrated Guide to the Grand Circle, Utah & Arizona (Anderson Design Group, 2021). In 2020, he co-founded the Railroad Incarcerated Laborer Memorial Project which seeks to appropriately honor and memorialize the lives, and often tragic deaths, of the workers (primarily African American convicts) who constructed the railroad into Western North Carolina in the 1870s. He serves as Interdisciplinary Distinguished Professor of the Mountain South at the University of North Carolina Asheville where he teaches courses on the South, Appalachia, North Carolina, and the National Parks.


Becky Stone is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Vassar College, majoring inDrama. Becky earned a Master’s degree in Educational Counseling from Villanova Universityand worked for seven years as an elementary and middle school counselor in the PhiladelphiaSchool system. Becky and her husband, Pat, moved to Fairview, NC in 1978 where in 1990, they startedGreenPrints, a magazine of gardening stories. They published it for 31 years. During that time,Becky taught theater at Veritas Christian Academy. She also established herself as a regionalperformer, storyteller, actor, and Chautauqua scholar.

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