Toxic Free NC's Community Leadership Council
The Council met at Centro Latino in Spruce Pine in October, 2011. Back row, left to right: Juwan Kearney (guest), Schree Greene (intern), Silvia Peterson (Council), Connie Schultz (Council), Jonathan (guest), Bill Kearney (Council). Front row, left to right: Ella Kliger (Council), Charles McNair (Council), Billie Karel (staff). Not pictured: Melissa Bailey. Photo by Ana Duncan Pardo.
of the Leadership Council
(click name for a bio
Charles Atlas McNair
About the 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
of Toxic Free NC's Community Leadership Council
(last updated 8/11)
Melissa Bailey is originally from a small
coal mining community in southern West Virginia.
She has worked for Lenoir County Migrant
the past seven years as a recruiter. She is
a co-founder of the Migrant Education Outreach
Cooperative in eastern North Carolina.
Most recently, she completed her Certificate
in Nonprofit Management from Duke University.
She is a proud mother of three children and
enjoys camping, reading and writing in her
William Kearney serves as an Associate Minister at the Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenton, NC. Bill coordinates the church health ministry and serves as faith and health advocate/facilitator for the local United Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Association, Inc. and the General Baptist Church State Convention, Inc. He is a community researcher and helped develop several University of North Carolina (UNC) community-based participatory research partnerships, including The Harvest of Hope Church Garden Project and The Faith, Farming, and the Future Mentoring Project, and works as a Community Expert in the UNC Community Leadership and Reciprocal Development Project.
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.
||Charles Atlas McNair
Charles is a native of eastern NC and grew up in the farming tradition, and commitment to the people of NC is what drives him. Today, his focus is on organic, non-GMO, sustainable farming. He is a farming member of the Wayne Food Initiative and employed at a pre-K - 4 charter school called Dillard Academy. His endeavors are focused on youth, organizing, and health. He founded Freedom F(ph)arm where he raises food to give to needy families, and shows youth and others how to grow soil and raise food. He also assists others in planting community gardens, including a current project to build gardens at local housing units.
Silvia Peterson is originally from Mexico City
and has lived in NC since 2002. She works for
the Toe River Health District Farmworker Program
in four counties, helping farmworkers and their
dependents access the health care system, providing
health and safety education and reimbursing eligible
providers. In addition, Silvia works for the Service
Center for Latinos, Inc., a non-profit organization
assisting Latinos and low-income families to meet
their basic needs and become an integral and valuable
part of the community.
Photo: Silvia Peterson with her daughter Alexis at a December, 2008 meeting of the Community Leadership Council.
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.”