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VISTA on the South Cumberland Plateau

VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, and is a branch of the federally funded AmeriCorps program, often referred to as the "domestic peace corps."


AmeriCorps programs aim to fight poverty across America by placing VISTA members in service to nonprofit organizations where they help build capacity within these organizations.


VISTAs serve in Grundy and Marion County; their work is made possible by a unique collaboration between the University of the South and the South Cumberland Community Fund.


Vista Members 2017-2018

Katie Goforth

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. She served as director of the South Cumberland Health Network and as co-director of grants for Volunteer Behavioral Health. She is active on numerous local and regional committees and boards in the fields of public health and education, including the South Cumberland Health Network, Grundy County Health Council, Activ8 Grundy, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, and Friends of South Cumberland State Park. In her free time, Katie enjoys travel, hiking, and walking her dogs along the scenic South Cumberland Plateau trails. prior to accepting this position, Katie partnered with the University's Office of Civic Engagement and the South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Project on many community outreach initiatives. Her position as VISTA manager enables her to use her professional experience in innovative ways to help her local community.

Contact Information: adgofort@sewanee.edu

AmeriCorps VISTA Manager

Emily Ezell

Emily Ezell is from Nashville, TN and has been living in Sewanee for the past two years with her husband, Eric. She graduated from the University of the South with a degree in Religion in 2011, and went on to get her Masters in Social Work in May of 2016 from UT Knoxville’s Nashville campus. In between undergraduate and graduate studies, Emily served in the Peace Corps in Panama. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she collaborated with English teachers to improve their English teaching abilities and classroom management skills. For the past two years Emily has been working as a School-Based Therapist with Centerstone in both Coffee and Franklin Counties. In addition to her current work as VISTA Coordinator, Emily continues to work part-time as an outpatient therapist with Centerstone in Tullahoma.

Contact Information: ecezell@sewanee.edu

AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator

Michael Albinger

Michael Albinger is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In late 2017, he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh obtaining dual Bachelor’s degrees in Media and Professional Communications and Political Science. Currently, he is pursuing his Master’s in International Relations through Liberty University’s online program, and continues to volunteer  for the American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region in their Disaster Public Affairs department. Michael is glad to be a part of the SCP VISTA Program and hopes that he can make a significant contribution to the local community while enjoying all of the wonderful historic and natural sites that the Mountain has to offer.

Contact Information: vista4sccf@gmail.com

Communications Technology Coordinator (SCCF)

Lucus Crossland

A native of Winchester, Tennessee, Lucas received his B. A. in Religious Studies from the University of the South, and afterward served as a summer intern for the University's All Saints Chapel. He enjoys serving others and giving back to the community, as well as reading, hiking, and cooking. Lucas is excited to serve the tri-county area through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Contact Information: sccfvista@gmail.com

Grants and Nonprofit Management Network Coordinator (SCCF)

Emily Heid

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.

Contact Information: sewaneevistaspec@gmail.com

Specialty Crop Economic Development Coordinator VISTA

Richardson Irvine

Richardson Irvine is from Mobile, Alabama, and graduated in May 2018 from the University of the South with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a minor in Environmental Studies. This past summer he spent his time as Head Counselor of the Sewanee Environmental Institute (SEI). Richardson is excited to learn and grow as a young professional during his time as a VISTA.

Contact Information: vista@betterfi.co

Economic Development Coordinator (Better Fi)

Krystina Robinson

Krystina is from Memphis, TN and moved to Murfreesboro in 2012 to attend Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). While at MTSU, Krystina worked with programs that addressed drugs and violence. In 2015, she earned her Bachelor’s in Public Health from MTSU and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Health Promotion.


Krystina aspires to make a change in people's lives for the better. When she saw the South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project position for Grundy County's opioid prevention program, she knew it was the perfect fit. Now that she is working with an organization like Grundy Safe Communities Coalition Krystina feels she is doing what she was born to do.


"The first requisite of success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem without growing weary." - Thomas Edison


Contact Information: gscc.vista@gmail.com

Grundy Safe Communities Coalition Community Outreach Specialist

Whitney Whittington

Whitney Whittington attended Eastern Kentucky University, earning dual bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Philosophy in May 2017. She worked at The Growing Place in Richmond, Kentucky as a teacher’s assistant before moving to Sewanee, where she lives with her husband and two dogs. In college, she was a member of the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and continues to be an active volunteer and advisor to members of Alpha Phi Omega at the University of the South. Whitney is enjoying the opportunity to serve the South Cumberland Plateau community and the nation as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Contact Information: folksathomevista@gmail.com

AmeriCorps VISTA Systems & Programs Coordinator

Leslie Wright

Leslie Wright is from Hartselle, Alabama, and attended Auburn University where she obtained a Bachelor’s in Political Science and discovered a passion for policy and advocacy work. After graduation, Leslie moved to New Orleans and began working at a telecommunications company that contracts with universities seeking assistance to increase institutional outreach and enrollment. Over the course of two years, she helped the admissions office at Loyola University - New Orleans increase their application rate by 30%. In 2017, Leslie enrolled in the Master’s of Public Policy and Administration program at Northwestern University; with her master’s program almost complete, Leslie is excited to begin her career in policy and advocacy as an SCP VISTA working on anti-poverty initiatives.

Contact Information: lwright@grundyk12.com

Attendance and Family Engagement Coordinator

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