Community Advisors

Rick Brown

Rick Brown, Outdoor Enthusiast and Environmentalist

Rick’s passions run the gamut from cycling to reading to playing his Spanish-built guitar. A former designer of electronic circuits/systems, he now focuses his attention on renewable energy as the owner of SolShine Energy Alternatives, an electrical and solar contracting business, specializing in designing and installing solar electric systems for home and business.

He and his wife, Christy Pugh, live in a 316 sq foot solar-powered home that they designed and built. One of the many reasons Rick and Christy moved to Floyd was to pursue living a radically simplified, rural life by developing a small footprint homestead. Rick’s larger goal is to promote, as author/educator Jim Merkel states, “Small footprints on a finite Earth.”

Mike Burton

Mike Burton, Attorney, Farmer, Conservationist

Mike received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1988 and practiced trial law in North Carolina for 10 years. He farmed in Floyd for several years before accepting the position of Director of SustainFloyd. He was an active and successful leader of the organization until 2013 when he left to work as independent consultant on local food systems development. He served as a board member of the Virginia Association for Biological Farmers and with the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. Mike lives in a straw bale, solar-powered, wood-heated home he constructed and is very engaged with the local community.

Jane Cundiff

Jane Cundiff, Biology Professor, Global Educator, Volunteer Project Organizer, Naturalist & Gardener

Jane and her husband Ken have settled in Floyd after a life as international science educators. They are now adjunct science professors at Radford University and stay busy growing organic food and protecting local ecology. Jane is presently active in several community organizations in Floyd and runs the Wild Edibles Organic Garden Club.

Fred First

Fred First, Author, Photographer, Biologist

Fred gives voice to the beauty of Floyd. His two books, A Slow Road Home and What We Hold in Our Hands have received acclaim. He has aired more than 30 NPR radio essays and written regular columns for two local papers. His photographs appear widely in such publications as Blue Ridge Country, Appalachian Voice and his photo-blog, Fragments from Floyd. He is a past board member of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts and participates in a number of committees related to tourism and natural resource use in Floyd. He has also served as associate professor of biology at Wytheville Community College, then as a physical therapist before turning to a writing career.

Tom Franko

Tom Franko, Timber Framer

Tom Franko tree-planted for years to purchase a stake in a Floyd intentional community – Zephyr – then built a home from timber and stone and found a vocation in the local timber framing industry.

Tom is quiet but outspoken when necessary. He is a husband, father and grandfather. He loves to travel and still works to sustain that. Human connection is the true stuff of life and nothing like an honest community to provide opportunity for that.

Person Placeholder

John Hopkins, Writer

John is a writer, editor, and self-taught environmentalist. After retiring from daily journalism, he founded and led an advocacy group that promotes safety and facilities for bicycling and walking. Eventually he retired again, to the Blue Ridge hills where he was born.

Karin Grosshans

Karin Grosshans, Banker, Community Volunteer

Karin lives and works in Floyd. She is the Branch Manager at the Floyd branch of Skyline National Bank, and her favorite thing to do is to work with the many community organizations which do good work in our area. Karin is a member of Partnership for Floyd, an officer with the Rotary Club of Floyd, and a board member of the Floyd Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. She serves on the Development Committee for SustainFloyd.

Roger Kienzle, Certified Public Accountant

Roger Kienzle grew up in a suburban neighborhood on Long Island, NY. At 22 he joined the Navy and served as navigation division officer aboard USS Nimitz. Over a ten-year period in those early days he either worked on the water as a clamdigger in Huntington Harbor, LI, on the Nimitz, or lived on the water in a houseboat.

Since getting out of the Navy, Roger has worked as an accountant at CPA firms and for nonprofit and private employers. He has over 37 years experience in accounting, and currently works as a sole proprietor CPA, keeping books using an online software called Xero.

Henry David Thoreau has been an influence on Roger. Floyd is home to many people who have marched to a different drummer, and Roger has lived here since 1987. He has a long-standing woodworking hobby and has made most of the furniture in his house – all in the Arts and Crafts or Stickley style. He hopes to offer objects for sale here in the near future.

Lydeana Martin

Lydeana Martin, Floyd County Community and Economic Development Director

Lydeana grew up in Floyd County and is fortunate to still call it home. She works closely with the local Economic Development Authority on business development initiatives as well as with non-profits and the local Planning Commission. She serves on the SustainFloyd Stewardship committee.

Barbara Pleasant

Barbara Pleasant, Writer, Volunteer

Barbara has been covering organic agriculture for 30 years, first with Organic Gardening magazine and now with Mother Earth News. Author of several award-winning books, she serves on SustainFloyd’s Film Committee.

Mark Schonbeck

Mark Schonbeck, Consultant in Sustainable Agriculture

Mark lives in Floyd as part of the Abundant Dawn Community. He provides one-on-one consulting for farmers and homesteaders including soil test interpretation, soil health, and nutrient, weed, and pest management for ecological and organic production systems. He also works with National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in advocating for more sustainable farm and food system policy at the federal level.

Marjory Wells

Marjory Wells, Retired Nurse-Midwife

Marjory Wells is a retired Nurse-Midwife. She lived in South Carolina for most of her adult life. She enjoys the art and jewelry classes at the Floyd Center for the Arts. She has been involved with Partnership for Floyd and the trails. She loves being in Floyd.

Person Placeholder

Ann Shank

Ann is retired, a member of and volunteer with the Floyd County Historical Society, the Floyd County Woman’s Club, the Presbyterian Church of Floyd, and the Floyd Center for the Arts.

She said she is “impressed with the programs of Sustain Floyd, especially Farmers Market, double SNAP, recycling center, energy fair, films and discussions on environment/climate issues, climate pledge.” She is the Conservation Chair for the Floyd County Woman’s Club and, as such, encourages members to be conservation minded, recycle, reuse, etc. [Members record how much, of various types of things, they “recycle” [in the broad sense — reuse also counts]. She recently has asked that members record things they do to help reduce carbon emissions so the Club can assemble a list of ideas to then share with others, including SF.

Person Placeholder

Becky Pomponio

Virginia Lepley

Katy Morikawa

Katy Morikawa

Katy has lived in Floyd since 2010, but grew up in Blacksburg and lived in Hawaii, California, and Arizona before returning to the New River Valley. She is passionate about protecting the living earth and has participated in Sustain Floyd’s recycling efforts, among other projects. She works from home as a graphic designer, web developer, and consultant in the small house in the woods she and her partner, a local Floyd man, built in 2018.

Jonathan Vandergrift

Jonathan Vandergrift, Father, Husband, Volunteer

Jonathan moved to Floyd County in 2011 after leaving government service in Washington DC. During his time in Floyd, he has been a school teacher, farmer and the director of Plenty!, a local non-profit. He is currently working as a part-time bookkeeper for a number of local businesses and a full-time husband and father of three young children.

Scroll to Top