Advisory Board

Meet Our Advisory Board

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Kathy Boone
Bio coming soon!

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Faye Cooper
Bio coming soon!

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Edith Colvard Crutcher
Ashe County native, Edith Colvard Crutcher, is a Commissioner of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the U.S. Department of the Interior. For the past 15 years, Edith has worked on the federal level with issues concerning the Native American Community and the Arts. She is an advisor on the design process for the Museum of the American Indian on the Capitol Mall in Washington, as well as an appointee to the Private Sector of the United States Information Agency. Additionally, Edith serves as a Director on the board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a Chair of NMWA National Advisory Board, and a Member of the Board of Trustees of Lees-McRae College. Most recently, she is the founding chair of the Playwright Project in Healing Springs, NC. As a strong advocate for the arts, Edith has organized promotional events for Wolf Trap Performing Arts, Washington Opera, San Diego Symphony, and Atlanta Opera. Edith has a passion for public relations efforts and social work programs and has traveled extensively. She has even lived in the Orient and in Europe, but now keeps a home on ancestral land in Ashe County as well as in Washington.


Billie Brandon Howell
Billie is the President of Deer Valley Development Corporation, a family owned business that has provided recreational opportunities for families and seasonal residents of Watauga County for more than 30 years. She has been a community volunteer for numerous organizations and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Western Youth Network Board, and the Advisory Board of the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge.

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Brenda Lyerly
Brenda is the Mayor of Banner Elk, North Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from the University of Houston and a Master of Arts Degree in Higher Education Administration from Appalachian State University. Brenda worked in higher education for 30 years, as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for Lees-McRae College, then two years as Enrollment Specialist at Mayland Community College, and Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Appalachian State University. Brenda has been very active in Banner Elk, as the Board Chair of the High-Country Council of Governments, Vice-Chair for the Resort Towns and Convention Cities Board, member of the Qualifications Board for the Department of Insurance and a member of the Board of Adjustments. Additionally, Brenda is involved with the Hospitality House for the homeless and Habitat for Humanity and believes that giving back to those in need is an obligation and an opportunity. Brenda loves her job as the Mayor of Banner Elk and strives to be a good listener to all of her constituents.


Kay McCloskey
Kay came to the United States as an immigrant from England, and was naturalized as a citizen with her parents in 1960.  She and her husband, Bob, were married in 1968, they have three children and four grandchildren.  During her working years Kay wore many ‘hats’ but a couple of her favorites were as a Mentor Trainer in the Education For Ministry (EFM) program administered by Sewanee’s School of Theology Extension Center, and as a Floral Designer starting a Sole Proprietorship in Miami called ‘FloraForms’.  Bob and Kay retired in 2000. After selling their home in Miami and their vacation cottage in England, they moved back to their beloved mountains in 2005. As a past chair of the WFBR, it has been truly satisfying for Kay to see the WFBR growing into the challenges of the future with the guidance of the WFBR's ED Danielle, board chair Jan, and board members.  As a retiree Kay enjoys travel, visits with family and dabbling in watercolors.

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Jenny Miller
Bio coming soon!


Deborah Smith
Before retiring, Deborah worked as a psychologist connected to Florida’s Child Welfare system and mental health managed care. She also had a full-time private practice and oversight responsibility for a community mental health program prior to moving to North Carolina twelve years ago. She and her wife are currently enjoying living in beautiful western Ashe County. Deborah enjoys gardening and needlework and loves to travel.

KKO pic

Kathleen Kennedy-Olsen
Kathleen, a Miami-based philanthropist and entrepreneur is a widely respected businesswoman and volunteer leader. As Managing Director of her family’s philanthropic foundation, The Ethel & W. George Kennedy Family Foundation, Kathleen guides charitable support in multiple states supporting a variety of causes and holds positions on numerous non-profit boards. What started out as a part-time job has become a lifelong passion: “I never lose sight of the importance philanthropic foundations and volunteerism has as an instrument of change in the lives of people in need.”