Board of Directors

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.

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.

Kathryn WatsonInterim 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.