Developing Voices of Leadership in Rural America

Ivy Brashear

Ivy Brashear
Ivy has worked for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development since February 2013 as a Communications Associate. Before joining MACED, she was chief blogger at The Rural Blog, which is a product of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky. She has been a reporter at The Hazard Herald in Hazard, Ky., and at the Times-Tribune in Corbin, Ky. She’s also been a filmmaker for the Appalachian Media Institute, a staff assistant with the Kentucky RIVERKEEPER, and has been involved with several nonprofit organizations that focus primarily on Appalachian Transition. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Appalachian Studies from Eastern Kentucky University, and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Community and Leadership Development from the University of Kentucky. She is a native of Viper, Ky., a fifth-generation Perry Countian, and a tenth-generation Appalachian.

Tell us a little about the rural community you live/work in:

I’m from Viper, Ky., a small, rural community in Central Appalachia. My family has lived at the head of the Left Fork of Maces Creek for five generations. Coal mining has historically run the economy, though not so much these days. Poverty rates, cancer rates, lung and heart disease rates, drug addiction rates are really high here. Access to good-quality health care is limited, though healthcare is a leading employer in the region. We are an oppressed people, both economically and socially, internally and externally, knowingly and unknowingly. But we are also a strong and resilient people who are proud of where we come from. And we are just now starting to truly reclaim our power and our economy from the forces that once controlled it, which is yielding some pretty amazing grassroots efforts to revive our communities and the people within them.

What are the pressing reproductive health issues you want to raise?

I want to write about where I’m from: Central Appalachia, Perry County, Viper. I want to lift up the stories of the women of this place and how, despite having little access to quality reproductive healthcare, they are still able to thrive. But also, how they are held back by this in distinct ways. I want to also write about what it means to be a lesbian in this place seeking reproductive health care that may or may not lead to actual reproduction. There are nuances to that that women who don’t identify as lesbian do not experience.

What’s your favorite book?

Right now, it’s “Prairie Silence.”

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?


What does your perfect day look like?

Time back home on Left Fork with my family, which includes my Partner, Courtney, my dog, Poppyseed, my Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister-in-Law, and two nephews. Porch-sitting, eating good food, swapping good stories, laughing a lot, hearing the mountains living around me – that’s my perfect day.

Interested in Ivy’s blog?