The Appalshop Board of Directors has selected Ada Smith, a native of eastern Kentucky, as its new Institutional Development Director. Smith, who is 26 years old, will lead Appalshop’s Re-Gen initiative to engage a new generation of Appalachian artists and institutional leaders committed to pursuing change at the intersection of arts, humanities, and social justice. Appalshop Board Chair, Donna Porterfield, notes “From the get-go in 1969, women have been in leadership positions at Appalshop, and Ada has all the skills to help Appalshop fulfill its mission in the face of hard times for grassroots institutions and widening economic disparity nationally.”

“Appalshop has been an innovator in the past,” says Smith, “and Re-Gen will focus on inventing new production and community engagement models as well as developing new institutional structures to support innovation. We’ll stay grounded in the realities of our home region, Appalachia, while our collaborations will continue to be national and international.” Ada Smith is the daughter of founding Appalshop filmmakers Herby Smith and Elizabeth Barret. She first became active in Appalshop at age 14 through its community radio station, WMMT-FM, and the Appalshop-sponsored local “Youth Bored” music events.

She interned for Appalshop Appalachian Media Institute (AMI), which she credits for helping her find her voice. After graduating from Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts in 2010, she returned to the coalfields to work with and eventually co-direct AMI. Presently, Smith is on the board of Southerners on New Ground, is an active member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and The STAY Project, and was selected as a 2013 Arts & Culture Fellow by the Rockwood Leadership Institute in Oakland, California. Founded in 1969 as a War on Poverty training program for youth, Appalshop award-winning production and education divisions are Appalshop Archives, Appalshop Films, Appalachian Media Institute, Community Media Initiative, June Appal Recordings, Roadside Theater, and WMMT-FM Radio.

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“Ada Smith to Lead Appalshop Institutional Development.” October 28, 2013.

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