A night-shift worker in Mars Hill. A retired nurse in Mebane. A pastor in Kannapolis.A single mom in Cataloochee. A student in Cullowhee.
The people who make up Down Home are diverse: We come from across the state, we are old and young, working and retired and unemployed. We love the small towns and rural communities we live in. Some of us were raised here, some of us came a long way to get here. But what we all are is together.
No matter who you are and what walk you have walked in this life, if you are serious about making bold change and building power across race: Welcome home.
Brigid Flaherty, cOFOUNDER AND CODIRECTOR
Brigid was mostly recently the Organizing Director of ALIGN, where she led winning policy campaigns at the city level that strengthened standards for 4,000 commercial sanitation workers as well as improving public health for three overburdened low-income and people of color districts; drove labor-community coalition mobilizations around Fight for 15 and various Wall Street actions. Prior to ALIGN, she worked for seven years at the Pushback Network (PBN) where she eventually served as Executive Director. At Pushback, she worked with the Board to drive strategic planning and fundraising for a national network of eight states that were building power with people of color and low-income community organizations through state-based integrated civic engagement programs.You can reach Brigid at [email protected]
TODD ZIMMER, COFOUNDER AND CODIRECTOR
During the 2016 election cycle, Todd served as the National Political Organizer for the climate justice group 350 Action. In the past, he has served as the national Campaign Coordinator for Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and as a campaigner and organizer at Rainforest Action Network (RAN). A lifelong native of North Carolina, Todd has been active as a core organizer in regional racial justice struggles. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. You can reach Todd at [email protected]
GWEN FRISBIE-FULTON, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Gwen joins the Down Home team from years of local, grassroots anti-poverty work in North Carolina, focusing on food security, housing, and anti-partner abuse work. Gwen writes about poverty, race, and gender in the South and believes strongly in the power of bottom-up storytelling. She has spent most of her life in North Carolina where she connections, ties, roots, and memories from across the state, mountains to sea. She is raising her tiny family in the Piedmont where she is actively engaged in anti-racist organizing and homeless outreach and grows huge tomatoes. Gwen holds a deep, deep love for country roads, mountain trails, and muddy Southern rivers. Oh, and pimento cheese. You can reach Gwen at [email protected]
GAYLE SCHWARTZBERG, POLITICAL DIRECTOR
Gayle joined the Down Home team as Political Director after spending years organizing for fair elections in the South. Her passion is creating a democracy that works – whether that’s from turning out thousands of first-time voters on college campuses across North Carolina in 2016, fighting the NC General Assembly’s absurd and racially motivated constitutional amendments on the ballot in 2018, or helping folks in rural Tennessee get their voting rights restored after a felony conviction. Gayle has two sweet kittens that she’ll insist on sending you pictures of and otherwise enjoys living in Durham where she’s an equidistant walk from hiking trails and a bar with great tater tots.
CARRIE MCBANE, JACKSON COUNTY ORGANIZER
Carrie grew up in south Florida and moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina in 2005 to be with her sister and father. She spent most of her working career in the restaurant industry. Carrie has been outspoken on her experience of living in the health care gap amongst other issues. Her most recent community recognition was the invitation to become a member of the Board of Directors for Meridian Behavioral Health Services in Sylva, NC. Carrie now spends her time and energy in service to her community through Down Home NC, where she was a member before joining the staff. You can reach Carrie at [email protected]
CHELSEA WHITE, HAYWOOD COUNTY ORGANIZER
Chelsea is native to the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she continues to live and organize poor and working people with Down Home NC. She graduated from Western Carolina University in May of 2016 as a member of Phi Alpha honors society with a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature. During her undergraduate studies, she was elected to serve as a representative on the Student Government Association, where she authored legislation that was passed unanimously to address the concerns of students who experienced prejudice, harassment, and sexual violence during their time at the university. Her passion for social justice began with electoral organizing, having previously served as the Director of Development for the state federation of College Democrats in North Carolina; she also formed the first chartered chapter of the College Democrats at WCU, which was formally recognized as the most improved chapter and was awarded for having the best program after bringing LGBTQIA+ activist Shane Bitney Crone to speak on campus. Since graduating, Chelsea has spent her time activating the community of WNC to engage in local politics and social justice campaigns; she was featured on the national Organizers podcast to discuss the community group that she co-founded and directs called Progressive Nation WNC. You can reach Chelsea at [email protected]
JASMINE WRIGHT, CABARRUS COUNTY ORGANIZER
Jasmine is a native of South Carolina who began calling the Charlotte area home after transferring and eventually receiving her B.A. in Communications from Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte’s premier HBCU. While attending JCSU, Jasmine re-chartered the NAACP on campus and began organizing under the leadership of Dr. Rev. William Barber. Jasmine continued her organizing efforts working with organizations such as Democracy NC and The Tribe while serving as a leader for the youth with Ignite NC. Jasmine is a strong advocate for youth engagement and participation in our most basic civic duties. Jasmine is a role model and a voice for communities that are commonly not heard, who uses her knowledge to plant seeds among others while sprouting leaders along the way. You can contact Jasmine at [email protected]
LAURA MARIE (LM) DAVIS, DEEP CANVASS TEAM LEAD
LM grew up in Ohio where she began her career as an environmental educator and advocate. After serving as an AmeriCorps Member for a year, she came to North Carolina to earn a Master of Environmental Management degree with a focus on community-based methods and environmental justice. LM engages with her community in Durham as a member of the local Environmental Affairs Board, the Triangle Friends of Farmworkers, Durham For All, and the Eno River UU Fellowship, to name a few! She loves deep canvassing and is dedicated to bringing more rural working-class folks (like her own family) into our movement for a better future. You can reach LM at [email protected]