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.


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 10 nonprofit sites in Franklin, Grundy, and Marion counties. 



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. 

Office of Civic Engagement

AmeriCorps VISTA Manager


Katie Goforth


Sarah Hess is not new to the SCP AmeriCorps VISTA program. Prior to returning to the program to serve as VISTA Coordinator, Sarah had the distinction of holding the longest tenure for an SCP VISTA - three years. Her earlier tenure included assuming the position of Lead VISTA her second and third years. Currently enrolled as a first year student at the School of Theology on the University of the South campus, Sarah was persuaded to return to the program to take on the part-time position of VISTA Coordinator. Sarah is now combining her pursuit of a Master's in Divinity with more VISTA service, and we are thrilled to have her back.

Office of Civic Engagement

AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator


Sarah Hess

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.

Office of Civic Engagement

AmeriCorps VISTA Leader South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Project


Laura Sonderman


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.

University Farm

Specialty Crop Economic Development Coordinator VISTA


Emily Heid

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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.

Sewanee Office of Civic Engagement

Hunger Relief and Reading and Literacy Coordinator


Hannah Olinger

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.

Grundy County Board of Education

Attendance and Academic Success Coordinator


 Julianna McBee

Jennifer Moeltner graduated from the 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 successful futures 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.

Sequachie Valley Head Start

Appalachian Family Resiliency Coordinator


Jennifer Moeltner