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
Doug Wellman – President. 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.
Connie Brennan – Vice-President. Born in California and adopted by the rural South, Connie has lived in Central Virginia for 43 years, after living in several other states and abroad. After co-owning a bookstore, managing a land-surveyor’s business, and building a house, she spent 28 years as a nurse-practitioner at the University of Virginia. She has served on the boards of many non-profit organizations, and has served Nelson County for 20 years as an elected member of the School Board and of the Board of Supervisors. She has three children and one grandchild, all of whom live nearby in Nelson County. Public service is her passion, along with gardening, cooking, walking, bird-watching and just studying and marveling at the natural world around her.
Susan McSwain – Secretary. As the daughter of an Air Force sergeant, Susan attended seven schools in three countries before graduating high school in Puerto Rico. She was exposed to nature early, on family tent camping and fishing trips. By fourth grade, she was a self-described birdwatcher. After earning a BA in Latin American Studies at USF in Tampa, she married a Foreign Service officer and began a long “career” of volunteering with nature organizations in six countries. Her paid jobs have included swimming instructor, lifeguard, camp counselor, horse trainer, riding club manager, riding instructor (sometimes teaching in a foreign language, which the horses understood perfectly!), folk music club manager, singer in a band, and solid waste and recycling coordinator. Moving to Nelson County in 2000 fulfilled her lifelong dream to live in a rural area surrounded by nature. She is active with several local and regional environmental organizations, including VA Master Naturalists. She has been fighting the ACP since it was announced in May, 2014.
Cheryl Klueh – Treasurer. Cheryl moved to Charlottesville in 1974 with a group of starry eyed academics looking for a way to live more lightly on this earth. They bought land in Nelson County and founded Shannon Farm Community. It’s been her home for 44 years. She has been SFA Treasurer for much of that time and has served on the Nelson Library Committee and the Rural Nelson Board as well as on the Rockfish Valley Community Center board with two stints as Treasurer. She is currently bookkeeper for the Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents and other small businesses and non-profits in Nelson, Charlottesville and beyond.
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 their property and their neighbor’s, and destroying their pond. They are 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.
Mary Eiserman. Mary has a formal education in conservation biology and professional experience working for wind energy development companies, agricultural research organizations and as an events manager. Most recently, Mary is a proud to work with local government and agricultural communities supporting implementation of Best Management Practices. Mary and her young family settled in Nelson County in 2014 despite the planned ACP because of the vibrant community and abundant natural resources. She hopes to help grow and support these aspects of the County through working with the Friends of Nelson.
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.
Charlie Hickox. A long time resident of Nelson County and member of Shannon Farm Community, Charlie is married to Cheryl Klueh, the current FON Treasurer. Over the past 40 years he has been involved in a number of volunteer design and construction activities centered around housing, recreation and alternative energy projects. Charlie also serves on the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Foundation and Rockfish Valley Community Center Board of Directors. His professional life has included stints as a landscape architect, IT manager and IT consultant, working for Standard & Poors – MMD on the downtown mall and for Booz Allen Hamilton at the National Ground Intelligence Center. Charlie has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Princeton and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In addition he has held certifications as a Project Manager Professional (PMP) and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
David Schwiesow. David and his wife Nancy bought their first home in Nelson County in 1990, and it only took a few years to decide that they eventually wanted to move here from the hustle and bustle of the D.C. area. In 2012, they retired to Fortune’s Point, a small neighborhood at the top of Piney Mountain. The peace and quiet they expected to enjoy was jolted over four years ago when Dominion proposed to put the Pipeline through Reid’s Gap and then up the side of Piney Mountain to Fortune’s Point. David and Nancy have been fighting ever since then to defeat the Pipeline. David was a business lawyer for over 42 years, so he naturally has been immersed in the serious safety, environmental and other legal issues posed by the Pipeline in Nelson County. He was the primary draftsman for over 675 pages of 8 filings with FERC in opposition to the Pipeline. Most recently, he assisted the Southern Environmental Law Center in its successful challenge on behalf of several environmental groups to Dominion’s attempt to build the Pipeline through a tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail at Reid’s Gap. David will continue his special focus on legal challenges to the Pipeline.
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 was on the original proposed path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
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.
Joyce Burton – Landowner Liaison. 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.
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.
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.
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 doing special projects for FON (especially floodplain work!). It’s an honor for her to be a part of such an awesome grassroots movement!
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.
Julie Burns – Past 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.
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.
Ben Cunningham – Past Vice-President. After a stint on the FoN Board, followed by time as Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) Coordinator, Ben currently serves as the Virginia Field Coordinator for the ABRA Pipeline CSI program, using drones, volunteer pilots in airplanes, and crowd-source citizen science to monitor and provide public oversight of ACP. To find out more about the Pipeline CSI, visit www.abra-csi.org. Having grown up in Afton attending Nelson County Public Schools from K-12, Ben has had a deep love for Nelson County since an evenyounger 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.
Ben Holmes. Ben is new to the Friends of Nelson board but not new to the pipeline fight. You have probably seen him on Saturday mornings at the Friend’s of Nelson tent at the Nelson County Farmers Market. He has been a committed volunteer since the start. Ben and his wife were drawn to Nelson county because of its unspoiled scenic beauty, rural character and simple way of life. He loves the abundance of clean well water that they drink and water their vegetable garden with. He’s interested in seeing that the Rockfish Valley continue to sustain itself without major industrial development and is committed to stopping the proposed pipeline.
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.
Helen Kimble – Past 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 thewarmth 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.
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.
Joanna Salidis – Past President. 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.
Randy Whiting – Past 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. [Note: Annual meetings are usually 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.