South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project

About Our AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership

VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America, and is a branch of AmeriCorps, a federal program that is often referred to as the "domestic Peace Corps." AmeriCorps VISTA programs fight poverty across America by placing VISTA members in service to nonprofit organizations to help build capacity and sustainability.


The South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project began in 2014 and is a unique collaboration between South Cumberland Community Fund and the University of the South. SCP VISTAs serve each year at as many as 20 nonprofit sites in Franklin, Grundy, and Marion counties. 

Our VISTA Team


Katie Goforth

Office of Civic Engagement

AmeriCorps VISTA Manager


Born in Tennessee and raised in Colorado, as a child Katie spent most summers with her extended family in Grundy County, Tennessee. After earning a B.A. from the University of Colorado with dual majors in Anthropology and Geography, she made Tennessee her permanent home. She worked in the field of K-12 education for more than 20 years, along the way earning a Master's in Elementary Education (Tennessee State University) and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership (Tennessee Technological University). She then transitioned into the field of nonprofit grant management. 

Laura Sonderman

Office of Civic Engagement

AmeriCorps VISTA Leader South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Project


Laura Sonderman earned a B.A. and M.A. in English in 2005 and 2010 respectively, and spent five years teaching English and ESL at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Laura followed this with three years working toward a PhD in Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill before leaving the program to move to Sewanee with her husband, Eric. She is a proud AmeriCorps NCCC alumna (Denver Campus, 2008) and is excited to be serving as a VISTA as well.

Savannah Atkinson

Savannah is from the upstate of  South Carolina and attended University of South Carolina before deciding to take some time to figure out a new degree path. Before joining the VISTA program, Savannah served in an AmeriCorps State position in southwest Virginia as a seasonal interpretive park ranger where she led daily educational programs. As a VISTA, Savannah hopes to continue and expand improvement efforts in her new community. In her free time Savannah loves to go hiking with her dog and enjoys learning new hobbies, the most recent being crochet.

Alyssa Crow

DuBose Conference Center

Healthy Roots Community Garden VISTA


Alyssa Crow is from Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a Geology and Environmental Studies degree. While in school she worked with UT Gardens and helped bring a student garden to campus. She enjoys camping, kayaking, and hiking. Alyssa has always loved volunteering in her community and is excited to be serving the South Cumberland Plateau.


Emily Heid

University Farm

Specialty Crop Economic Development Coordinator VISTA


Emily graduated from the University of the South in May 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in French and French Studies and a minor in Religion. Before joining VISTA, Emily worked at the South Cumberland Farmers Market, interacting with the local farmers of the Plateau while becoming increasingly aware of the economic challenges facing farmers in the area. As a VISTA, Emily hopes to increase economic and marketing opportunities for local farmers and advocate in support of local food systems. Emily enjoys hiking, cooking, traveling, and tropical fruits.

Kara Kramer

Kara has a degree in English from University of Arizona. Before joining the AmeriCorps VISTA program, she worked as an advertising copywriter. As a VISTA, she looks forward to working with small businesses using her skills in marketing and strategy to develop tourism on the South Cumberland Plateau and attract more people to its historic sites. Kara enjoys live music, camping, and exploring new places. 

Sarah Krueger

Grundy Safe Communities Coalition

Opioid Prevention Outreach VISTA


Sarah Krueger grew up in Pendleton, South Carolina, and her family moved to Cleveland, Tennessee during her freshman year of college. Sarah graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science, and a minor in religion. During college, Sarah worked at an after-school program and learned about the importance of making connections with individuals and seeing the “whole person” behind whatever behavior was being displayed. She also had the chance to study abroad in Botswana which helped her gain confidence and reinvigorate her passion for service. Sarah is excited to be working with Grundy Safe Communities Coalition to help make Grundy County a safer, healthier place. In her free time, Sarah hopes to explore new hiking locations, diminish her “to-be- read”pile, and visit home to ride her horse, Kokopelli.

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Hannah Olinger

Sewanee Office of Civic Engagement

Hunger Relief and Reading & Literacy Coordinator VISTA


Hannah Olinger is a native of Gate City, Virginia. She graduated from East Tennessee State University in spring 2018 with Bachelor’s degrees in both Political Science and International Affairs and a minor in Women’s Studies. As an undergraduate, she interned for the Peace Corps and volunteered for several other humanitarian organizations. She is pursuing a Juris Doctor at Syracuse University College of Law and hopes to concentrate in Post-conflict Reconstruction. Her ultimate goal is to create sustainable development in the beautiful Appalachian region.

Julianna McBee

Grundy County Board of Education

Attendance and Academic Success Coordinator


Julianna McBee graduated from Lee University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in human development and an emphasis in business. During her time at Lee University, Julianna was involved with a student pro-life club on campus as well as participating in multiple volunteer opportunities. She enjoys serving others and she hopes to make a difference in each life she touches. Born and raised in Pelham, TN, Julianna is excited to serve as an SCP VISTA for Grundy County School System to enhance the attendance program and improve education by limiting poverty in families.

Jennifer Moeltner

Sequachie Valley Head Start

Appalachian Family Resiliency Coordinator VISTA


Jennifer Moeltner graduated from University of Toledo with a bachelor's degree in Anthropology and a minor in Disability Studies. Before joining VISTA, she worked in an after-school program for high-risk elementary students where she created and implemented STEM programs in addition to tutoring. She became aware of the emotional and mental impact poverty had on the students and their caregivers. As a VISTA, Jen hopes to create opportunities that aid in creating successful futures for children and allow them to break the cycle of poverty. In the future, she hopes to use the skills and experience she gains from her time as a VISTA to help her create a successful anthropology field school for people with special needs and to further inclusion in anthropology.

Sam Shaw


Financial Inclusion VISTA


Sam Shaw was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. In May of 2019 he graduated from University of the South with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a minor in International and Global Studies. He has previously been a summer associate with the South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA program and is looking forward to spending more time addressing the issues facing the Plateau and tri-county area.

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