Friday Fellow of the Month: Elizabeth Young
Monday, October 9, 2017
Each month, a new Friday Fellow from the 2017-2019 class will be featured. This is the first feature in the series. Watch for more information on a new fellow each month. The full class announcement is available at this link.
Elizabeth Young is the Executive Director of the Hunger and Health Coalition, a basic needs service agency. The mission of the Coalition is to be a resource for individuals and families within the community who are struggling to provide themselves with food, medication, and heat during winter. During her past three years there, Elizabeth has cultivated significant alliances with other nonprofits and businesses in the county. She has led her staff through the development of countless innovative partnerships, not least of which includes direct client referrals from the Appalachian Regional Hospital. She is always seeking to identify pressing community needs and to collaborate across agencies to provide new solutions, bringing in thought leaders from Appalachian State University and across North Carolina to imagine and implement better ways to effect change for her agency’s clients. The Hunger and Health Coalition directly reaches thousands of High County residents annually and distributed over two million dollars worth of life-sustaining medications in 2016.
Elizabeth grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, with a passion for food, travel and the arts. She earned her Bachelors in Psychology at Appalachian State University in 2007, and recently completed the Intensive Non-Profit Management Course at Duke University. After her undergraduate degree, she lived in San Francisco working at a boutique consulting firm and traveled the coast of California. A lover of the mountains, she decided to move closer to family and friends in 2009 becoming a long-time resident and member of the High Country community.
Prior to The Hunger and Health Coalition, Elizabeth was the Executive Director at Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living, a position she was promoted to after serving for a year and a half as the Director of Community Relations. She treasured helping clients, their loved ones, and families navigate end of life care during such precious and vulnerable seasons. She moved her beloved grandmother and mentor, Eleanor Sparks, into Deerfield from Birmingham, Alabama. This decision confirmed how strongly she believed in the community and care offered there and allowed her to share the sacred space of her grandmother’s last two years of life.
Education is profoundly important to Elizabeth. Her acceptance into the Interdisciplinary Watauga College Program, a living and learning honors community modeled after Oxford, proved intensely formative for her. It framed so much of her educational experience and produced lasting community relationships still maintained today.
In recent years, she has participated in Leadership training courses, including the Watauga Leadership Challenge that connects leaders in various areas of industry. Her time during this program solidified her desire to give back to the residents of Boone. Following this experience, she has continued to serve on the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as a voice for non-profit agencies in the High Country.
Elizabeth has invested in Watauga County in significant ways to advocate for marginalized communities, ranging from at-risk seniors to survivors of intimate partner violence. She has been a long-time member of the Blowing Rock Rotary Club, working as Polio Plus chair and Community Services chair. Elizabeth has served on the Board of Project Lifesaver, which supplies GPS wrist bracelets for seniors who struggle with memory loss in case they wander and endanger their safety. She was also a Board member of High Country Caregivers Foundation, which raises funds to offer caregivers a free voucher for respite health services for their loved one. Most recently, in partnership with her friend Todd Carter, Elizabeth helped to start a non-profit for LGBTQ youth in the High Country that provides mentorship and a safe space for those who are struggling to receive support from their family, friends, and/or faith groups. Additionally, this group seeks to advocate for policy changes and offer trainings for teachers and employees within the school system.
She is passionate about equality, love, and respect and advocating for marginalized populations. She brings an open heart and a deep desire to engage fully in each interaction she experiences. Her perfect day is cooking food with friends and spending time enjoying the beautiful mountain views of North Carolina. The Rough Ridge trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of her favorite places to show off the stunning landscape of western North Carolina. Elizabeth has a tremendous passion for travel and in the past few years has been to Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, France, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, and both coasts of the United States. At home, cooking is where she finds great enjoyment and relaxation. She has perfected a sachertorte cake with chocolate espresso ganache and, most recently, a pavlova! She loves the challenge of tasting new dishes at restaurants and recreating them at home. It is her long-term, foundational relationships with family and friends that are both the joy and strength of her life.