Our Board

The Asheville Sister Cities board of directors is comprised of community leaders who are passionate about fostering relationships between the people, businesses, non-profits and government of Asheville and those in our Sister Cities worldwide. We also depend on volunteers who share our enthusiasm for promoting peace through global friendship. If you’re interested in volunteering with Asheville Sister Cities, please contact any one of our board members. You are welcome to attend our Board meetings. They are generally held the 3rd Thursday of each month, but please contact Secretary ahead of time to confirm.

Asheville Sister Cities Board of Directors Officers

PRESIDENT

Ken Nelson

Ken Nelson and his wife, Julie Hettiger, moved to Asheville in 2015 and were introduced to ASCI thru several committee fundraisers held at Metro Wines. After visiting Saumur, France, as part of the 2017 trip delegation, they became active members. Having previously lived in the multi-cultural cities of Houston and San Diego, studied in Madrid, traveled through the Spanish speaking regions of the world, he was ready to take on a new role in the Asheville Community. Ken is the founder and co-owner of Blue Delta Energy, a firm focused on renewable energy finance that works with clients on funding their various sustainability projects. Ken is excited to lead ASCI and continue our organization’s many successful programs as well as build towards an even brighter future.

Vice President

Jessica Coffield

Jessica Coffield has served as the Saumur City Chair since 2017 and feels strongly about the impact that Sister Cities can have in building citizens of the world. She also volunteers with the Junior League of Asheville and Young Professionals of Asheville. When not volunteering she works full-time as the Vice President of a marketing agency. Jessica is Vice President of ASCI but also serves as the Chair for the Saumur Committee at this time.

Secretary

Alice Keller

Alice Keller has served as ASCI Board Secretary since May 2009.  She and her husband George have lived in Asheville for 21 years.  They became interested in ASCI through involvement with the Karpenisi City Committee because of their commitment to sharing a personal relationship with the citizens of that Greek city and the friendships shared within the local community.  Before her retirement, Alice enjoyed varied careers in the field of Education.

Treasurer

Jackie Craig

Jackie Craig was raised in Asheville, graduating from Enka High School, and continuing her education at UNC-Greensboro, graduating with her degree in Nutrition.  When she returned to WNC she found her love of traditional crafts and became part owner of Appalachian Crafts, Inc. She and her husband, Andrew, have owned this 40-year-old business for 33 years. She has been a member of Asheville Sister Cities for more than 15 years, currently beginning her third term as Treasurer. She has traveled to three of our sister cities and enjoys being involved in global friendships.

City Committees

Karpenisi, Greece

Andrew Craig

Andrew Craig is a Past President of ASCI and is serving as the interim Chair of the Karpenisi Committee till a replacement can be found. If you are interested in taking on this role please reach out to ashevillesistercities@gmail.com

Osogbo, Nigeria

Eboné Graham

Eboné Graham is a student, mother and business owner who treasures diversity and inclusion as they are expressed in different cultures.  After learning of her mother’s Yoruba lineage, Eboné began to study Yoruba culture and has participated in Yoruba based community events in the United States both in person and online.  As the Committee Chair of Osogbo, Nigeria for Asheville Sister Cities, it has been thrilling to connect with Osogbo Sister City and learn more about the culture as well as discover how this partnership can increase the quality of life for one another’s cities.  When not studying, parenting or operating her business, Eboné enjoys dancing, reading and streaming movies with wine in hand.

San Crisobal de Lass Casas, Mexico

Gwen Hughes

Gwen G. Hughes is a Founding member of ASCI. Gwen has served in many capacities with ASCI including; Fund Development, International Congress (2005) coordinator, San Cristobal Committee Chair and Special Projects Coordinator which included 3 international students art shows, Maya performance groups bringing two amazing shows to Asheville and 2 wheelchair distributions to our sister cities in Mexico. Gwen and husband Carroll, have helped develop sister city relationships and firmly believe in the Mission Statement of the organization.

Vladikavkaz, Russia

Constance Richards

Constance Richards is chair of the Vladikavkaz Committee of Asheville Sister Cities. She spent almost seven years in Russia as a foreign correspondent, but met her late husband, international sculptor and painter Vadim Bora — originally from Vladikavaz — in Asheville. She currently works as a fine art curator and author and serves on the Asheville Public Art and Culture Commission.

Saumur, France

Jessica Coffield

Jessica Coffield has served as the Saumur City Chair since 2017 and feels strongly about the impact that Sister Cities can have in building citizens of the world. She also volunteers with the Junior League of Asheville and Young Professionals of Asheville. When not volunteering she works full-time as the Vice President of a marketing agency. Jessica is Vice President of ASCI but also serves as the Chair for the Saumur Committee at this time.

Valladolid, Mexico

Janell Cooper

Believe it or not, Janell Cooper, discovered Asheville Sister Cities while spending time in Valladolid, Mexico! Later that year she visited Asheville and fell in love with the mountains and the outdoor lifestyle. She quickly decided to make Asheville home and promptly sought out Asheville Sister Cities Inc. since they united two of her favorite cities. Janell is an educator, health coach and yoga teacher who travels to the Yucatan as often as she can. She wholeheartedly believes in the work that Sister Cities is doing to foster relationships between cultures so that we can learn about one another, have fun together and create partnerships where we can embark on meaningful projects together! 

Dunkeld-Birnam, Scotland

Rick Lutovsky

Rick Lutovsky has been the co-chair of the Dunkeld & Birnam Committee for the past 3 years and has been involved in the sister city movement since the early 80’s. He is the past President/CEO of the Asheville Chamber and currently serves on the board of the YMCA of Western North Carolina and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Committees at Large

Membership

Marjorie Mcguirk

Marjorie McGuirk is an enthusiastic member of ASCI who strongly believes in building community through shared experiences. Marjorie particularly enjoys the fact that ASCI finds common ground in diversity of language, culture, and political orientation. She looks forward to serving as Membership Coordinator and invites the population of the greater Asheville area to enjoy the many benefits of ASCI membership. Marjorie has aided in the Global Glitz annual fundraiser, and participated in many activities with the Greece and France committees. She is an inaugural member of the Giving Circle.

Giving Society/Special Projects

Gwen Hughes

Gwen G. Hughes is a Founding member of ASCI. Gwen has served in many capacities with ASCI including; Fund Development, International Congress (2005) coordinator, San Cristobal Committee Chair and Special Projects Coordinator which included 3 international students art shows, Maya performance groups bringing two amazing shows to Asheville and 2 wheelchair distributions to our sister cities in Mexico. Gwen and husband Carroll, have helped develop sister city relationships and firmly believe in the Mission Statement of the organization. 

Giving Society

George Keller

George Keller joined the ASCI Board in 1995 as Advocate of the Giving Society.  One of his passions is supporting nose-to-nose, toes-to-toes communication between Asheville Sister Cities members, especially young ones, and their counterparts in any one of our seven sister cities.  George spent his work years as an experimental, hands-on physicist and then as a teacher of physics at UNC Asheville.

Newsletter

Jerry Plotkin

Jerry Plotkin has been active in Asheville Sister Cities since 2007. He served as Saumur committee chair for a number of years and has been the ASCI newsletter editor since 2011. He retired from serving as a French interpreter and instructor for well over 40 years, worked with guests at Biltmore for more than a decade, and enjoys the company of his new granddaughter.

Social Events

Jacquie Nightingale

Jacquie B Nightingale, is a retired regional government administrator. She has been a member of ASCI since 2010. Aligning herself with the city committees of Saumur, Karpenisi and Valladolid. Became a member of the board in 2013 as a member-at-large. Accepting the board position as Social Chair in 2015.
As a mother, grandmother & great-grandmother her true passion is the eradication of world hunger and especially any hunger of children.
For fun and relaxation Jacquie loves to cook, enjoys music and dancing, and traveling the globe. 

Special Projects

Ken Richards

Ken Richards career has been in human and global relations. He and his wife, Irene Dillingham Richards, were administrators in the United States Department of Defense Overseas Schools. They coordinated global conferences throughout Europe and were  co-editors of the international journal, “Education World“.They were part of the team  founding “Friendship Force WC” and Sister Cities. In 2005 Ken was awarded the Richard Oakland Fellowship by SCI as State Coordinator of the year. “Sister Cities is an important vehicle for uniting all individuals and families as a global family sharing love and understanding in caring for each other and caring for this beautiful planet upon which we all live.”

Youth Coordinator

Jay Harris

Jay Harris has developed and implemented cutting-edge resources and programs for universities, a university consortium, state and federal agencies, private foundations, schools, and community groups. His experience involves study abroad, international students and scholars, K-12 and community outreach, development assistance, and creative campus internationalization in general. Most recently, he launched Carpe Global, a web initiative spotlighting international resources and opportunities for people with global interests. He has a Master’s in international affairs from the George Washington University Elliott School. His pastimes include coaching young runners and providing assistance to wilderness canoe/kayak paddlers.