Ashley Arrington, Secretary
Ashley works in the Economic Services division of Buncombe County Health and Human Services. She has served as a caseworker and a staff trainer for the division that is responsible for determining eligibility for Medicaid, Food & Nutrition Services, and other public assistance programs for low in come individuals and families. She also works on contract with WNC Ray of Hope, a locally-owned Mental Health provider for adult services in Asheville, NC. She has over 10 years of experience in systems management and contracts. Prior to that, Ashley was a teacher, varsity coach, and interim athletic director for the Montgomery County (AL) Board of Education where she was tasked with assisting in creating a high school athletic program from the ground up at a technology magnet high school. During that time she also taught English, Health Education, and Interpersonal Relations to high school students. Leaning on those experiences, she and her partner founded Blue Ridge Pride in 2008 in an effort to unify the ever-growing diversity of the Western North Carolina communities. Besides CSE, Ashley has served as a board member for the City of Asheville’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board as well as the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council. She and her partner Amy are licensed foster parents and enjoy giving back to the community at large. Ashley earned a Bachelors of Science in English and Health Education from Troy University.
Lee Crayton, Board Member
A native of North Carolina, Lee is a graduate of Appalachian State University and holds a PhD in criminal justice from the City University of New York Graduate Center. Currently, Lee serves as a research specialist at Western Carolina University. Lee’s affiliation with the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) began in July 2011 as a participant in the Coming Out Campaign. In Fall 2011, Lee worked closely with CSE staff and volunteers to help launch the WE DO Campaign in Asheville, NC. Prior to relocating to Asheville in 2011, Lee served as the Deputy Director of Research of the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Honored to be a part of CSE’s Board of Directors, Lee brings a fierce commitment to fighting systemic modes of oppression. Whether focusing on the criminal justice system or LGBTQ politics, Lee’s work attempts to dismantle inequality and discrimination.
Kelly Durden-Posey, Board Member
Kelly Durden-Posey is an Employee Relations and Compliance Consultant at Lowe’s Home Improvement headquarters in Mooresville, NC. Prior to joining Lowe’s, Kelly earned her Juris Doctor from UNC School of Law in Chapel Hill and her B.A. in English and Spanish from UNC-Wilmington then practiced law for ten years throughout the state of North Carolina. Much of her early legal career was spent with Legal Aid of North Carolina as a staff attorney representing low-income populations and victims of domestic violence and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont representing unaccompanied immigrant children. Kelly served as the managing attorney for the region’s first LGBTQ Law Center. There, she worked to provide low cost direct legal services, community resources and education to those in and in support of the LGBTQ community. She provided legal services in a wide variety of areas but most specifically in the areas most disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ community. She has spoken at various conferences including Creating Change and LGBT in the South Conference in effort to bring a voice to some of the most marginalized groups. Kelly continues to provide consulting services to various agencies and organizations.
Yolany Gonell, Board Member
Yolany is a community organizer and activist who holds a Masters in Social Work from the University at Buffalo in New York and is committed to social justice and empowering youth. She currently serves as the Vice President of a local grass roots LGBTQIA organization called Just Us For All which strives to bring awareness and education to underserved and underrepresented LGBTQIA communities about current events and ways they can make a difference. Yolany has over 7 years of progressive administration experience in higher education providing services and support that emphasize student centered learning and diversity education; experience developing partnerships with multiple community agencies; and has been instrumental in the coordination of multiple large scale rallies and demonstrations in the community.
Kris Hermanns, Vice Chair
Raised in rural Wisconsin, Kris currently serves as Director of the Pride Foundation in Seattle, Washington. Kris has nearly two decades’ experience and expertise as a program manager, fundraiser, and non-profit administrator. Before joining the Pride Foundation, Kris was the deputy director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, where she both led the development department, provided day-to-day internal management of the organization, and advised on strategic direction. Prior to that, she was a program officer with The Rhode Island Foundation, where she created Equity Action, a field-of-interest fund for LGBTQ concerns, and developed the grantmaking program for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. Kris earned a Masters of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University and a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Reese Huffman, Board Member
Reese is a social justice advocate who is passionate about furthering education and conversations on poverty, mass incarceration, affordable housing, housing policies, and equitable access, with a particular interest in how those issues affect marginalized populations. She frequently draws on insights gained from personal experiences to help shape conversations on several of those topics.
Since 2005, Reese has given her time to a broad range of social justice causes. She was selected by the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at USC Upstate to participate in SiHLE (Sistering, Healing, Living, and Empowering), a program sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control that provides mentors and educates at-risk high school females on setting goals, personal agency, and sexual health. Subsequently, she was tapped to co-present on SiHLE’s success at the 2010 SC State HIV/STD Conference.
More recently, Reese co-taught a class at Greenville Technical College (SC) on the Inequalities of Gender and Sexual Orientation and served as the VERA Pathways Navigator for Buncombe County Re-entry Council. Reese is currently a member of the Boards of Directors for Green Opportunities (GO!) and Greenville County Youth Orchestras (SC). Reese and her daughter reside in Asheville.
Kathryn Watson, Interim Chair & Treasurer
Based in Washington D.C., Kathryn Watson is counsel to two Baltimore, MD hospitals where she oversees the compliance of operations and works to assure health care initiatives are successfully serving the community. Kathryn is a graduate of Brown University and was a Public Interest Law Scholar at Georgetown University Law Center. During law school, she served as a policy intern at Whitman-Walker Health Center and as a researcher for the Center for Law and the Public’s Health with a focus on HIV/AIDS and redressing health disparities. Kathryn earned her Masters in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.