It is with great gratitude & excitement that we bring you the news of a transition in STAY’s staff during our 10th year of igniting youth leadership in Appalachia. Starting this October, we celebrate Kendall Bilbrey’s new opportunity with long-time partner, Appalachian Community Fund (ACF), and welcome Lou into the position of interim coordinator!
Kendall served for over two years as STAY’s first full-time Coordinator, and has been a member since 2012. Over the last year and a half, part of Kendall’s role at Coordinator entailed directing the Out in the South: Central Appalachia Project alongside LGBTQIA communities across Appalachia and partnering with the ACF. Upon completion of the first phase of this exciting work, Kendall made the decision to transition into focusing resources for LGBTQIA communities in Appalachia full-time as Project Director for ACF. We are so grateful for all of the mentorship, time, and love Kendall has contributed to STAY and we are so excited to continue to work with Kendall as an active member of the STAY Project!
Here’s a note from Kendall on their recent transition from STAY:
“STAY is a powerful space for young people to grow & learn within their communities; a space to shift power and raise our collective voice. I know that STAY will continue to be a space where collective power and relationships are built for long-lasting change. I am so grateful for all of the wins, brilliance, and perspectives we have shared together. I look forward to transitioning back to my role as an active STAY member and supporter, and particularly supporting STAY’s 10th Anniversary celebration in July 2018 at the Highlander Center.”
When we created the full-time position for STAY coordinator, we intended for this position to be a revolving door opportunity for leadership skill development. We know it’s difficult for young people to stay in their communities with access to meaningful, full-time work with fair pay & benefits, and we also know that young people in our region doing work that benefits other young people is something that should be modeled across our region. We are very proud to be able to hold this position and build structure over the next year for a more permanent Coordinator following Lou’s 1 year term as Interim Coordinator.
Lou Murrey, originally from Boone, North Carolina, has served on STAY’s steering committee for two years prior to stepping up as the Interim Coordinator. Lou has shared their talents and gained experience most recently in East Tennessee working with communities around issues of clean water access, rural broadband expansion, energy efficiency and building new structures of democracy at the local level through the Knoxville City Council Movement. Lou has nurtured a lifelong love of photography and has used that skill to document a diverse array of experiences in Appalachia. Lou, along with a wide network of STAY members, alumni, founders, and regional partners will be a part of facilitating a smooth transition and prepare us for the 10 year anniversary of the STAY Project
Here is a note from Lou on their new position as Interim Coordinator:
“The STAY Project is where I found my voice, where I felt empowered to be my authentic self, where my community got bigger, where I was given the grace to mess up and do better… I love STAY and I am honored and thrilled to be able to work with STAY as interim coordinator. My heart is full of gratitude for Kendall as both STAY Coordinator and friend for their guidance and encouragement through this staff transition. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, I am committed to building a just and beautiful Appalachia with y'all.”
During this time of transition & celebration of 10 years of STAY, we want to hear from our base, the youth in Appalachia, about what they need to be able to stay and move their communities forward. The STAY Project will spend the next 9 months leading up to our 10th Anniversary gathering that input from our current members as well as our alumni on how STAY can best serve our members moving forward.
We welcome and thank you for your support during this time of new leadership & STAY’s 10th year of youth organizing in Appalachia. Please reach out to us with any questions or with a request to meet up with Lou. Lou can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at (828)-773-1969.
In Love & Solidarity,
Lou, Kendall & The STAY Project Steering Committee