Toxic Free NC’s Community Leadership Council
About the Community Leadership Council
Toxic Free NC’s Community Leadership Council is a group of emerging and experienced leaders from across North Carolina who work together to reduce pesticide pollution. They are an energetic and diversely talented community of leaders who find common ground and inspiration in each other’s efforts for farmworker health and justice, clean and healthy food for rural communities, toxic-free spaces for children, and much more.
The Council meets approximately six times a year, four times by telephone and twice in person. Members partner directly with Toxic Free NC on specific projects and campaigns, pursue training and skill-sharing for activism and leadership, and offer one another support and advice in their work. Toxic Free NC draws on the Council for advice and assistance with outreach and community organizing work around the state.
If you are interested in supporting the work of the Council by making a financial or in-kind contribution, or if you’d like to be considered for membership in the Council, please contact us!
Ella Kliger is the Western Outreach Coordinator for MANNA FoodBank. In that role, she focuses on connecting people who are food-insecure with resources such as Food and Nutrition Services. Before she moved to Western NC two years ago, she helped to start the non-profit environmental health consultancy, Coming Alongside. As CA’s Field Operations Director, Ella matches scientific researchers with community stakeholders to collaborate on solutions for improved health. In the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, she conducted a soil study of lead and other heavy metals to inform choices about community garden locations in food deserts. One of CA’s current projects is increasing awareness of the health risks of arsenic in apple juice.
Connie is from San Diego, California, and together with her husband has five children and three grandchildren. She holds an Advanced Master Gardener certificate in Sustainable Gardening, and volunteers with Johnston County Cooperative Extension and the NC Community Garden Partners. She is an accomplished grant writer, researcher, educator, and garden consultant whose always been committed to organic. She says of her work, “I’m convinced that DuPont’s old slogan ‘living better through chemistry’ is alarmingly deceptive and that many of the chemicals we’ve accepted into our homes and lives are dangerous to us, our children and our pets.”
Pastor Kelly Akinjole
Pastor Kelly Akinjole is originally from Nigeria by way of Seville, Spain. Pastor Kelly holds a B.A. from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. He currently coordinates a multi-congregational collaborative initiative focused on spiritual and physical transformation. Pastor Kelly is interested in making sure that the environment is protected and respected for the benefit of all people. Also, he works to educate and empower the community to get involved in and speak out against all forms of injustice.
Rev. Bill Kearney
William (Bill) Kearney, a recognized health and wellness consultant, specializes in asset-based capacity building for groups and communities with emphasis on individual and environmental health, and social and economic equity. An ordained minister and owner of Bill Kearney & Company Consulting LLC, Rev. Kearney holds a Business Administration/Management degree from Shaw University. He is a founding member of the Warren County Environmental Action Team (E.A.T.), which continues Warren County’s legacy of activism and community organizing as the birthplace of the environmental justice movement. Every undertaking Rev. Kearney embarks on reflects his vision of groups and communities actively engaged in building their capacity by identifying and mobilizing their many God given assets.
Marielle lives in Asheville North Carolina with her two sweet and funny children and her talented and supportive partner. She just graduated May 2015 with a Masters of Science of Sustainability Studies. She worked on the Blue Ridge Biofuels F3 project, which provides restaurants with locally grown canola that can be recycled as biofuel. Marielle has written blogs for ASAP connecting area WNC farmers and restaurateurs to biofuels. But what she most enjoys working on is pollinator aide and on educating her community on impacts of pesticides and how to use alternatives. Marielle is the creator and co-contributor to a small group of wonderful folks that make up the newly formed Asheville Alternatives to Pesticides Coalition. When she’s not planning free educational alternatives workshops or working in some other capacity she enjoys hiking, playing, and gardening with her family, and listening to a multitude of music.
Melvin E. Lewis
Melvin E. Lewis is a North Carolina Certified Beekeeper. He has more than a 1,000 hours as a Volunteer Master Gardener. He completed the Solar Energy Diploma program at NSCU and Green Business certifications at the Chicago Center For Green Technology. His articles on horticulture and emergency preparedness have appeared in City View NC, 107.7 FM and the Fayetteville Observer.