Friends of Nelson’s mission is to protect property rights, property values, rural heritage and the environment for all the citizens of Nelson County, Virginia.
Friends of Nelson is now incorporated and under a Joint Plan of Work with Virginia Organizing. Virginia Organizing is a 501(c)(3) non-profit so all contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with the law.
OUR CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS
Helen Kimble. President. Helen moved from Washington DC to Nelson in 1989 for a planned 4-month stay. Twenty-seven years later, she is still awed each and every morning by the beauty of the Rockfish Valley and the warmth and strength of the people who call Nelson County home. Over the years she has been involved locally in a number of community and regional non-profits, and currently works as a Self-Sufficiency case manager for a social services agency. Growing up a few miles from the Nation’s Capital, Helen spent her formative years witnessing the power of citizen action and has been active in the resistance effort since the arrival of the first ‘done deal’ notices from Dominion – ACP.
Ben Cunningham. Vice-President. Having grown up in Afton attending Nelson County Public Schools from K-12, Ben has had a deep love for Nelson County since an even younger age. Ben left his family’s small farm home in 2012 to attend the University of Mary Washington where he studied Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). While there he used the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as a case study for multiple projects, joining the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition as an intern in its creation of the ACP-Environmental Mapping System. Ben has volunteered with Wild Virginia, Friends of Buckingham, and Friends of Nelson to educate the public and policy-makers on the geohazards of building such a pipeline through the Appalachian terrain. Beyond his continued efforts to halt the pipeline, Ben has a strong passion for his family and friends and enjoys gardening, traveling in other countries, and Nelson County craft beer and cider. Se habla español.
Julie Burns – Secretary. Julie Burns has lived in Nelson County for over 34 years. Her daughters graduated from NCHS and have gone on to successful careers in medicine and state department. She operated a farm and crafts business while her children were young and for the last 18 years has been working at the University. Julie was on the original organizing committee for the Nelson County Summer Festival as well as the Fall Fiber Festival. Besides current involvement in the Friends of Nelson Julie enjoys family visits, her pups, gardening, cooking, home improvement, knitting and bike riding.
Dave Cuningham – Treasurer.
Joyce Burton. As a child, Joyce fell in love with Virginia’s Blue Ridge while on a summer trip with her grandparents and the memory of its green and nurturing mountains pulled at her through all the years she lived in cities. When she stumbled upon Shannon Farm Community in 1997, she knew she’d finally found her home. Professionally, Joyce works as a home health physical therapist, but she focuses much of her energy on community service, both at Shannon and in the wider County. She helped form Rural Nelson in 1999, and served as its Treasurer for 12 years. More recently, she spearheaded the creation of the 2,600-acre (and growing!) Greenfield Agricultural and Forestal District. She has been active in the pipeline resistance ever since Shannon Farm received its first survey letter in 2014, and is grateful for the way that Nelson has become a stronger community as we’ve banded together to face this threat.
Ron Enders. Ron Enders moved to Nelson in 1974. For 21 years he was the President of WorkSource Enterprises in Charlottesville. Since 1994 he has been a bicycle advocate and served on several bicycling related boards while also traveling by bicycle in many countries around the world. He brings his business sense and organizing experience to Friends of Nelson, and wants to protect what he believes is the most beautiful place in the world, Afton Valley.
Woody Greenberg. Woody has lived in Nelson County since 1972. He was editor of the Nelson County Times and investigative reporter for the Daily Progress before becoming a professor of journalism and School Dean at Lynchburg College, retiring in 2010. He served one term on the Nelson County Board of Supervisors and was on the founding boards of the Blue Ridge Medical Center and the Community Development Foundation. He currently serves on the boards of three other non-profit county organizations.
Joanna Salidis. Joanna Salidis lives in Afton on the N. Fork of the Rockfish, right on the route of the pipeline. She homeschools her two boys, gardens, and volunteers. Joanna wrote grants, led programs, and served on the board of directors for the Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an organization dedicated to sharing the natural history of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Before moving to Nelson, she actively fought against building an unnecessary new dam at Ragged Mountain Natural Area, learning about politics, community organizing, and the importance of civic engagement in the process. Joanna also served as a member of Charlottesville City’s tree commission. She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Virginia.
Marilyn Shifflett. Marilyn Shifflett moved to Nelson County with her family in 1967. The 1969 flood in the aftermath of Camille sealed her love for, and commitment to, Nelson as she witnessed the slow recovery. Although living away for several years, she always felt a call “home” and returned, deciding that Nelson was the best place to raise her daughter. She worked in law publishing for 13 years and now manages a natural foods department. When asked about her involvement in the battle against the ACP, she calls herself an “accidental activist” and cites the preservation of a truly beautiful area and a unique rural culture as her top reasons.
Kathy Plunket Versluys. Kathy Plunket Versluys is a professional photographer and printmaker. She and her husband Martin have run Acorn Inn, bed and breakfast/retreat center, on Adial Road since 1987. Kathy took the photo now used in Friends of Nelson’s logo, which pictures The Priest—viewed from the Naked Mountain Nature Preserve—as well as lovely rolling foothills that will be scarred by the pipeline. Kathy and Martin’s 34-acre property is currently in the proposed corridor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Doug Wellman. Doug Wellman and his wife Janet moved to Nelson County in 2009, following Doug’s retirement after 32 years as professor and administrator at Virginia Tech and NC State. Doug’s field is natural resources, and his experiences include stints with the Congressional Research Service and the Huron River Watershed Council (SE Michigan) where he was involved in two successful battles over watershed protection. Doug and Janet live in Woods Mill, where a number of their neighbors will be directly affected by the ACP as currently proposed. From 2010-2014 Doug tutored and served on the board of the Literacy Volunteers of Nelson County.
Jill Averitt – Volunteer Recruiter (Grant-funded). Jill and her family moved to Nelson County in 2005 to build a house along with her two sisters and in-laws. 10 years later they have a total of four houses, seven kids, five dogs, chickens and a few lizards. Jill has been volunteering for the last 16 years while raising her family. She has an art degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design and is a graphic designer, painter, potter, and performs Japanese Tea Ceremony. She is deeply committed to beating this pipeline and preserving her homestead as well as many others along this route.
Becky Rhames – Applications Administrator (Grant-funded). Becky was born and raised in Waynesboro. Her family owned and operated Rhames Jewelry store on Main Street for over 30 years. She spent almost every Sunday of her youth in Nellysford at her grandfathers farm where she recalls her favorite childhood memories with family. After graduating from Virginia Tech she moved to Boston where she worked in the IT industry for about 20 yars. Becky currently resides with her husband Richard DeKaser in DC. In the past year she built a small cottage on her grandfathers farm and is thrilled to be back home. The pipeline is proposed to cross her family’s farm and she feels it is very important for her to be a part of the resistance.
Deirdre Skogen – Outreach and Network Coordinator. Deirdre hails from Richmond via Caroline County, Virginia where she was born and raised on a 3rd generation dairy farm. She graduated from Mary Baldwin College (so she could be close to the mountains) with a BA in Sociology, and minors in Communication and Women’s Studies. After working for the YWCA as a trauma counselor for victims of domestic and sexual violence, motherhood called her for her next adventure. Deirdre is now the Director of Marketing for Brandt Energy Code Solutions, Co-Chair on the Board of Directors with Wild Virginia, mother of 2 teens and a dog, and is honored to join Friends of Nelson. She loves camping, kayaking, taking photographs of our beautiful state, disappearing into the woods, and baking pies from her grandmother’s recipe stash.
VIcki Wheaton – Special Projects Coordinator. Vicki has lived amidst the sacred mountains of Nelson County for 28 years. Her passion to protect life, in all its forms, emanates from this bond. Nothing is insurmountable in her opposition to the proposed ACP or any other infrastructure that supports fracking and its resultant communicide. It’s from this passion that she’ll now be taking the role as FON’s Volunteer Coordinator. It’s an honor for her to be a part of such an awesome grassroots movement!
Cheryl Borgman – Membership Secretary. Cheryl moved to Nelson County in 1987 to start a plant nursery and to live in a rural setting. The nursery didn’t work out but her love for the land did and she stayed in Nelson where she raised her two girls. As a scientist, one of her passions is clean water. The thought of a pipeline coming through Nelson County or anywhere concerns her because she understands what a threat the construction of this pipeline would be on our water source not to mention the land itself. She has routinely had her well water tested and is proud to say that it has “always been perfect water”. Even though she is a mile away from the original proposed route, she fears that the construction of the pipeline will destroy that record. Cheryl volunteers as Membership Secretary because her database skills provide a good way for her to contribute. In her spare time, Cheryl enjoys gardening, hiking, skiing and rowing.
Ellen Bouton – Web Administration Team. Ellen and her husband, Ron Enders, moved to their home in Nelson County in 1974. A librarian since 1962, her entire professional career has been spent organizing information for access by users. From 1975 until her (semi) retirement in 2003 she was the librarian at National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and since 2003 has worked part time as NRAO’s archivist. In May 2014, she and Ron received a letter from Dominion announcing that the ACP would cross their property, destroying the small bridge that provides access to their house and to the homes of three neighbors, destroying the ford that larger vehicles (like fire and delivery trucks) use, crossing through flood plain on our property and our neighbor’s, and destroying our pond. We’re no longer on the preferred route (at least not at the moment), but are committed to stopping the ACP’s unnecessary and destructive construction, no matter what property it crosses. She has been a Friends of Nelson Web Page Administrator since summer of 2014.
Jim Plitt – Web Administration Team. Jim moved to Nelson County from Maryland 10 years ago after falling in love with some land in the valley while visiting friends in Staunton. With a background in Biology, he spent 20 years in medical research before getting a degree in Computer Network Support and is now a free lance consultant. Jim has always been against the pipeline and felt that giving web support to FON was a way in which he could contribute. He also volunteers with the Rockfish Valley Foundation and plays various instruments. He can be heard playing the dulcimer on the latest anti-pipeline song by Tom Krop.
PAST BOARD MEMBERS
Sam Bloom. Sam Bloom and his family have been residents of Nelson County for 14 years. He holds a BFA in Ceramics and was a professional glass blower working as an independent craftsperson for many years. Since moving to Virginia he has been working in the telecommunications industry as a Field Engineer. He and his wife moved to Nelson County to raise their children in a rural environment and start a small family farm. He got involved on the board of Friends of Nelson because he deeply cares about preserving the rural nature and tourism destination character of the county – an intrinsic nature that would be severely and irreversibly impacted by industrial fossil fuel infrastructure. He also would like to work toward a world that gets its power from renewable energy.
Anne Buteau. Anne Buteau came to Nelson County in 1998. Over the years, Anne and her husband Dan frugally built their energy efficient house, started producing wholesome food for themselves and others on their 28 acres, and made Nelson County their home. In 2003 the family grew with the arrival of a daughter. Now they are on the current route of the proposed ACP. Anne volunteered with “Keep Nelson Beautiful”, and was a member of the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee. She is currently on the Board of Directors of Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association. Anne is professional Natural Hoofcare Provider, serving the Central Virginia area and is a certified member of the American Hoof Association.
Doug Hornig. Doug is a professional writer with eleven published books, along with hundreds of articles scattered across the Web. He moved to Nelson County 39 years ago and, except for a brief period of exile in Albemarle, has lived there ever since. Though his property is not on any of the proposed pipeline routes, he is a firm believer in Benjamin Franklin’s dictum that if we do not hang together then we shall assuredly all hang separately.
Ernie Reed – Past President. Ernie Reed began building his Nelson County home in 1979. He was one of the Virginians for a Healthy Environment who successfully stopped the Ground Wave Emergency Network and the GWEN tower slated for Nelson County. He contributed to the effort to get the Priest and Three Ridges Wilderness Areas designated. He cofounded and ran the Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts in Charlottesville. Currently he lives in Charlottesville, is on the Board of Directors of Friends of Nelson and leads Wild Virginia and Heartwood in their efforts to protect National Forests in Virginia and nation-wide.
Randy Whiting – Vice-President. In 1999, Randy Whiting was living outside of Boston MA and spent his time being a Massage Therapist, teaching Anatomy & Physiology, and renovating an old town Library and Firehouse into his home. That year Randy and his wife Laurie Shaffer heard about a small Virginia town called Nellysford. They visited and fell in love. In 2005, Randy with the help of his son Eric (who now lives and works at Innisfree Village in Crozet) built their an energy efficient home in Horizons Village in Nellysford while Laurie went to work for UVA. Today the couple own 3 properties in Nelson County. Randy now spends his time as a Glass Artist, landlord, and a member of the Horizons Village Board of Directors. Horizons Village is an Eco-Village dedicated to preserving the land and the animals that live on it with us. The proposed pipeline route runs through Horizons Village’s Common Land.
Debbie Wyatt. Debbie and her husband Rick bought “the old Micklem place” near Red Apple Orchard in 1974, and, though they eventually moved into Cville after their second child was born, they still have the farm and still and always consider Nelson such a special place (ever since we so swiftly organized to fight Apco over a proposed nuclear plant in 1978). The proposed monstrous and unregulated-by-Virginia pipeline, both original and “alternative” routes, will clip the side of their property near Route 56. She has practiced law, dedicated time to painting and the study of art, and has been involved with writing, working on several works, one of which is fairly complete. She is a member of a number of legal organizations, a member of the CoArt Gallery in Staunton, and participant in numerous writers workshops.
Please see our complete bylaws. The bylaws include the following provisions:
- 5.2 Members are empowered to elect the Directors as specified in Article 7.3.
- 6.1 Annual Meeting: The Corporation shall hold an annual meeting to review its business and finances. The time and place of each annual meeting shall be determined at the preceding annual meeting. The time and place of the meeting shall be released to the members four weeks in advance of the meeting.
- Annual meetings are held in the fall.
- 6.6 Decision Making: The Board shall make decisions by consensus of the board members present at a meeting of the Directors. If the Board shall fail to reach consensus, then the decision shall be made by vote by a majority of the Directors present.
- 7.3 Rights of Members in the Nomination and Election of Directors: The Directors shall be selected from a slate of nominees presented by the standing Board of Directors by a vote of membership present. Any member may propose a candidate for election to the Board of Directors, but shall do so in writing addressed to the Secretary of the Board at least three weeks before the announced date of the Annual Meeting and shall provide information regarding the qualifications of such a candidate, together with a statement that the proposed candidate is a member, is willing to serve on the Board, and subscribes to the mission and policies of the Corporation. The slate of nominees shall be released to the members 10 days in advance of the annual meeting.