Western Alumni Event

Our Western Alumni Regional Event scheduled for Sunday, October 2nd was postponed due to inclement weather caused by remnants of Hurricane Ian. We hope to reschedule this event within the next year! Additional details about the rescheduling will be shared at a later date. 

Golden LEAF will be out West in the next few weeks and encourage alumni in the area to join us on Wednesday, October 26th from 6-8pm at Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone for an informal gathering with other alumni and Golden LEAF Staff.


The Foundry Hotel is a restored steel factory turned refined Ashevillian hotel and meeting space. The hotel offers a unique, seamless blend of industrial history, local culture, and warm hospitality. 

Our event will take place in the hotel ballroom space which features historic exposed brick and industrial windows!


Benne on Eagle is located in Asheville’s historic neighborhood called The Block. Meant to honor the African-American influence on Appalachian cuisine, Benne on Eagle serves up modern soul food that embraces the roots of the African diaspora using local ingredients. 

Lunch is on Golden LEAF! 

Philip Cooper

ARC INspire Coordinator, Land of Sky Regional Council

Practitioner in Residence, Institute for Emerging Issues​​

Guest Speaker

Philip Cooper is a Western North Carolina Native and an accomplished reentry expert, criminal justice reform advocate, and regional change agent. He is the INspire Coordinator at the Land of Sky Regional Council, Practitioner in Residence at NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues, and the Executive Director of Operation Gateway.

He is the founder of Voices of Affrilachia, which is a state-funded initiative that is addressing the mental health stigma in the Black Communities of Western North Carolina. Philip believes that those closest to the problem are the closest to the solution and this is why he is fully committed to teaching people how to leverage their lived experiences to change the world.

He is an MLK Service Award Recipient, Appalachian Leadership Fellow, and a Leading with Conviction Fellow with Just Leadership USA. He serves on the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and is the Chair of the Just Economics of WNC Board of Directors.

Planning Committee

Emily Drake, MBA

’13 Golden LEAF Scholarship Recipient

Current County: Lincoln

Current Role & Employer: Quality Support Specialist, Kintegra Health

 As an Eastern NC native, Emily is excited to network and make new alumni connections from the western region!


Jordan Edmisten

’15 Golden LEAF Scholarship Recipient

Current County: Watauga

Current Role & Employer: Member Services Coordinator, Blue Ridge Mountain Club

Jordan is most excited to get to know other young professionals in NC who have similar backgrounds to my own and learn more about the cool things happening in our state, as well as get reacquainted with Golden Leaf and the changes from the last few years. 


Tate Thomason

’14 Golden LEAF Scholarship Recipient

Current County: Graham

Current Role & Employer: Financial Services Officer, State Employees’ Credit Union


Registration Form