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Cortina Jenelle Caldwell

Since 2007, Cortina has facilitated dozens of trainings, workshops, keynotes and programs on authenticity, innovation, communications, organizational culture, leadership, entrepreneurship and creative community building across the Southeast United States with organizations such as: LEAF Community Arts; Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); University of NC – Pembroke; University of NC – Greensboro; Guilford College; Goodwill Industries of Western NC; East Carolina University; Appalachia Funders Network; Mountain BizWorks; Appalachian State University; Handmade in America; Mycelium School; Folk Alliance International; Haywood Community College; Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute; Asheville Area Arts Council; Kinnection Campout; Earthaven Ecovillage and numerous others. Cortina currently serves as the Founder of adé PROJECT; as well as Program Coordinator for WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition; and freelance consultant, motivational speaker, trainer and writer. Cortina previously held roles as Community Relations Director with LEAF Community Arts; Communications Director with LEAF Community Arts; as well as Founder & Managing Director of Visit & Venture, LLC. 

Cortina Jenelle Caldwell holds a Master of Arts in Management & Leadership; a Bachelors of Science in Business, Education & Social Science; and is a Certified Creative Facilitator through PYE Global (Partners for Youth Empowerment). Originally born + raised in Western NC, Cortina returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2011 with a passion for authentic relationships, commitment to community development, and hope invested in entrepreneurship. Ultimately, Cortina’s work is fueled by her personal mission – to shift community, business and organizational culture through authenticity, creativity, equity, and leadership, ultimately seeking to innovate realms of human, community and global relations through entrepreneurship, development, communications, branding, learning, and wellness for the greater good of the world.


Michele ashley

Michele Ashley, Asheville resident and community leader, is the Founder/Director of COEUR Compass Coaching. COEUR Compass Coaching is about providing life-coaching services that empower women to connect their hearts with their minds in defining and clarifying what they want in their lives, finding and following their passion and designing a step-by-step action plan around their life goals obtaining a more balanced, successful and fulfilling life. Here at COEUR our business is helping you to find the right path that will take you where you want to go – because let’s face it sometimes in life we find ourselves at a fork in the road, facing detours in our journey, or even road blocks to achieving our dreams that can leave us feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

COEUR Compass Coaching will provide you with assistance in cutting through the multiple layers of choices and help you to find the best choice, the right choice, the only choice for you to live your life on your terms — exactly where you are — with what you have — to get your where you want to go. WNC DEC is honored to welcome Michele Ashley back, and journey to our next vision!


Ami worthen

Ami Worthen is dedicated to contributing to a new paradigm. Her efforts are directed towards a collective narrative that is truly collective. It is her belief that shifting the narrative is one of the ways we can move towards liberation.

Based in Asheville, NC, she immerses herself in community. A writer and collaborator, the thread that weaves her work together is a passion for justice. Ami consistently demonstrates her values of integrity, kindness, and honesty. She has worked with nonprofits, grassroots organizations, and social enterprises to create positive social change. Her extensive nonprofit experience includes serving as the marketing director for the YWCA of Asheville (16 years), Planned Parenthood of the Triad (three years), Wild Goose Festival (two years) and the Asheville JCC (one year).

Ami’s writing has been featured in Mountain Xpress (regional alt-weekly newspaper), Laurel Magazine (regional magazine), (tourism website), Urban News (multi-cultural monthly newspaper), and on this site. Awards include the CoThinkk “Ally” Award and the Minority Enterprise Development Committee’s Board Member of the Year Award. Ami also plays music professionally in the duo Krekel & Whoa.


santos soul

Santos is Cacique/Chief and founder of GlocalSoul Edutainment- an arts based business and empowerment platform officially started in 2014. It’s Mission is to deliver Life Changing, Entertaining and Educational Programing Empowering healthy collective & individual social change and self transformation. Programing encompasses curriculum centered on cultural empowerment, “Glocal” Identity, Goal Mapping, Social Justice, and Wellness relevant for professional and commUnity organizations; as well as the Middle, High school and Higher Education. Santos Soul is a Poetic Soul Singer, Songwriter and Cultural Organizer. Santos is also a father,  Sifu/Instructor in Tai Chi and Gung Fu and 2006 Graduate of NCA&TSU with a BA in Political Science. Santos has been performing and Cultural Organizing through music, movement, and Edutainment nationally and Internationally for the past 15 years based in North Carolina. Santos extends his journey aimed at Collective Change Through Self Transformation with song, poetry, breathe, and movement. Influences draw from the message music of Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Hip-Hop, Spoken Word, R&B and World folk music.  His mantra is “I’m Changing the World, by Changing Me”



Dr. Joseph Fox, Fox Management Consulting Enterprises President and CEO, possesses an Ed.D. and an MBA from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Pfeiffer University, Misenheimer, NC. He also possesses the Professional in Human Resources Management (PHR) National Certification, Achieve Global Leadership Training Certification, and the Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) Certification.

Dr. Fox’s doctoral dissertation focused on a review of literature related to economic development, elements of a successful collaborative model, examples of successful economic partnerships, and economic development and entrepreneurship. Dr. Fox examined variables including whether or not students who completed the REAL course started a business, number of individuals employed by start-ups, years of operation, types of products offered, and average annual sales. Additionally, he examined the likelihood of individuals’ propensity to start a business in the future if one were not started at the end of the entrepreneurship course.

Dr. Fox believes in giving back to his community. He continues to speak on various topics related to entrepreneurship, empowerment, and planning for retirement. He is currently the Vice President at Roseland Community Center (Tryon, NC), serves as a member of the Eastside Citizens’ Advisory Committee and the Nina Simone Steering Committee, also in Tryon, NC. Dr. Fox is also a member of the Certified Entrepreneurial Communities Leadership Team for both Tryon and Black Mountain, NC

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As one of the founders of the Pisgah View Garden, along with husband Bob White, and an early tutor for I Have a Dream Foundation at Pisgah View Apartments, Daugherty has plenty of wisdom on community cohesiveness. She puts that skill at relationship building to good use as the Executive Director of Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council (ABCRC) whether it is working with law enforcement or the schools. When Lucia has a task before her, she focuses entirely on it. She doesn’t stray from the path until she is confident that she has done what is needed for the community and for the individual. Currently Lucia serves as the Civil Rights Specialist with SPARC Foundation as well as Community Resource Liaison for Deaverview Apartments, in conjunction with Buncombe County Schools’ Student Success office.



Marisol Jiménez is the founder and lead consultant for Tepeyac Consulting. She is originally from Chicago where she began her political education navigating the strong racial and economic divisions and inequities that demarcated the city. In trying to bridge these divisions, Marisol found a community of activists, advocates, and allies working for social justice and racial equity that welcomed her and all her intersecting identities. Within this collective, the work became and continues to be as much about personal healing as solidarity in all of our intersecting struggles. Marisol believes that transformative practice comes through constant self-examination, compassionate conflict, and visionary action by both individuals and communities. 

Marisol earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology from Loyola University of Chicago and her Master's in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She served as the Advocacy Director and Chief Lobbyist for El Pueblo, a NC statewide advocacy organization that worked on public policy issues at the local, state, and national levels. She was a steering committee member of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform National Strategy Council ( 2007); and led statewide efforts to organize mass demonstrations for immigrant justice in 2006 and 2007. Through this work, it became clear that dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression were often replicated within social justice movements and, in fact, contributed to her own professional advancement. Marisol made a decision to lean into this deepening political analysis to work with social justice movements, organizations, and foundations to strengthen their efforts, more equitably engage grassroots community leaders, and interrupt the structural roots of injustice.

Marisol served as the Racial Equity Training Director for OpenSource Leadership Strategies, Inc. a national consulting firm committed to amplifying the work of social justice organizations for several years. In 2015, she transitioned into a contract role with the organization in order to invest more deeply in her local community as an activist and organizer while also building an independent consulting practice. She continues to collaborate with OpenSource through her presentations, trainings, and workshop facilitation. Marisol has worked with leaders in the areas of education, immigrant justice, workers rights, youth leadership development, health, and the environment.  Through Tepeyac Consulting, Marisol has been able to work on a number of exciting projects, including: building the infrastructure of a sanctuary movement with Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA) and Nuestro Centro; partnering with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to strengthen the statewide infrastructure of the NC Latino immigrant justice movement; and offering racial equity trainings and coaching for community leaders and organizations across the country.
Marisol lives in a house full of noise, laughter, and love with her son, Roan, in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.