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Wildacres Leadership Initiative Announces Deputy Director

Tuesday, July 16, 2019   (0 Comments)
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Meredith A. Doster of Madison County to co-lead storied statewide program

Wildacres Leadership Initiative (WLI), is pleased to announce Meredith A. Doster of Madison County as the newly hired Deputy Director effective September 1, 2019.

Doster is a recent graduate of WLI’s flagship program, the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations. WLI Director Hunter Corn noted, “We are very fortunate to have someone of Meredith’s talent, training, and presence join the organization at this key time as WLI prepares for another fellowship class selection process and continues to expand its work across North Carolina. She has observed and engaged the organization directly in recent years and wishes to continue to build on the possibilities of fellowship.”

Describing her leadership style and professional background, Meredith shares, “A scholar-practitioner of place and purpose, my thought-work and teaching explore how we come to hold truths as self-evident and sacred. My birthright into a family of singers and storytellers means that I look first to our poets, makers, artists, and elders for pathways to deep teaching and learning. My classrooms and convenings center questions themselves, emphasizing the importance of reaching to increasingly nuanced and networked understandings of self and others. I am eager to raise questions with the Wildacres Leadership Initiative that will allow the Friday Fellowship to respond to North Carolinians’ many and diverse needs. What does it mean to be human, for example? And how will our reckoning with the stories we inherit, and those we love to tell, translate into a more just and humane living of these days?”

Doster holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Emory University, a Masters in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University, and a Bachelors in Music from Barnard College, Columbia University. Doster’s research, teaching, and writing explore storytelling as a perspective-shaping and power-sharing practice that can empower individuals and transform communities.

She began her career as an AmeriCorps member designing life skills trainings, community service programs, and individual education plans for at-risk teens and young adults. More recently, Doster has served as Dean of Adult and Graduate Education at Mars Hill University, Lead Faculty for Travel Courses at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at UNC-Asheville, and in Managing Editor positions at the Emory University Center for Digital Scholarship.

Partnered with an Asheville native, Meredith notes her family’s relationship to the state of North Carolina: “While I often claim a small farm in the Ozark foothills as family homeplace, my maternal fourth great grandfather John Worth Gray originally set out from High Point, North Carolina before settling in northeast Arkansas in the late 1800s. Arriving in hill country that resembled the upper Piedmont, John Worth built an exact replica of the family’s High Point home, transplanting North Carolina roots that flourished and multiplied in the Arkansas soil. Now living in the small town of Mars Hill, North Carolina, part of my life has come full circle. My family’s history in both North Carolina and Arkansas shapes the questions I raise about belonging to both place and people, and to their histories of opportunity and oppression. Learning how to tell our stories attentive to their privilege and power - and to their trauma - is part of what allows us to connect deeply across difference. Attending, listening, learning, walking, waking, growing, naming, claiming, becoming, being. These are the tools of my teaching and learning and the metrics by which I measure both life and leadership. I look forward to rich story-telling and space-holding with past and future Friday Fellows as we engage the state’s complex histories in the service of an emergent North Carolina.”

About Wildacres Leadership Initiative

The William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations is the flagship program of the Wildacres Leadership Initiative (WLI). Through the Friday Fellowship and associated programs, WLI trains, supports, and convenes a statewide network of leaders to address North Carolina’s pressing issues through civil dialogue and engagement across differences with a goal to improve the lives of North Carolinians. More than 200 Friday Fellows from every region, sector, and field have completed the program. The application process for the next Friday Fellowship class begins in November 2019. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @FridayFellows or Facebook @FridayFellowshipPublic or Instagram @Friday_Fellowship_NC

Wildacres Leadership Initiative is connected with Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC.