Fighting for Justice in the Coalfields

Staff and Board

ACLC’s staff includes several experienced attorneys and also serves as a training ground for those interested in public interest law.

Persons interested in working for ACLC should contact us about openings or fellowship opportunities. There are also summer internship possibilities for law students interested in environmental and worker health and safety problems associated with coal mining in Central Appalachia.


Stephen A. Sanders, Director 

Steve has more than 20 years of experience as a public interest lawyer in Eastern Kentucky. He joined Appalred in 1978 as a staff attorney and later directed the organization’s Prestonsburg office. Steve has represented miners in 105(c) discrimination cases as well as black lung benefits cases. He left Appalred in 2001 to start ACLC. Steve earned degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Vanderbilt Law School.

Wes Addington, Deputy Director

Wes received a 2004 Equal Justice Works Fellowship to revive the Mine Safety Project. Wes earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Kentucky.  He specializes in black lung and mine safety litigation.


Mary Varson Cromer, Staff Attorney

Mary joined ACLC’s staff in October 2008 to work primarily on environmental issues. Mary received her JD from Washington & Lee University School of Law. Prior to joining ACLC, Mary clerked for the Honorable Glen Conrad of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia and worked as an Associate Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.


Evan Smith, Staff Attorney

Evan Smith10Evan received a 2013 Skadden Fellowship to build upon ACLC’s representation of coal miners and their families in mine safety and black lung cases and to specialize in appellate advocacy.  Evan attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated magna cum laude, served as an Articles Editor on the Law Review, and received a Master’s in Public Administration.  For his undergraduate studies, he attended Oberlin College.  Prior to joining ACLC, Evan clerked for the Honorable John M. Rogers of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


Tara Damron, Administrative Assistant

TaraTara joined ACLC’s staff in June 2010 to help with administrative tasks and special projects.  She is a certified paralegal and is studying for her degree in criminal justice.



Amelia Kirby, Development Director 

amelia profile picAmelia Kirby joined ACLC in 2012.  Amelia has been involved in Appalachian community change work as a media artist, small-business owner, cultural worker and fund-raiser.  She hopes you’ll consider donating to help sustain the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center.


Eric Dixon, Coordinator of Policy and Community Engagement

Dixon_headshotEric served as an Appalachian Transition Fellow at ACLC in the fellowship program’s inaugural 2014-15 year and, upon completion of the program, joined ACLC’s staff in June 2015. Eric coordinates ACLC’s policy analysis and engagement efforts, particularly around abandoned mine land reclamation, renewable energy, and electric utility issues. Eric graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee in 2013 as a quadruple major in Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, and Global Studies.



 John Rosenberg, Board Chair 

John is president of ACLC’s board of directors. He has practiced law for more than 40 years.  Starting at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division during the Civil Rights    movement, John later moved to Eastern Kentucky to work with low-income people in Appalachia who might not have access to quality legal representation. John founded the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc. (Appalred), in 1971, and retired as its director 30 years later. John graduated from Duke University and the law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Dr. Jill Fraley is Assistant Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law.  Dr. Fraley is a legal historian who focuses her research on property and environmental issues. She practiced law for more than six years, working primarily in toxic torts and premises liability. She currently teaches property, environmental law, law & geography and legal history. Her recent writings focus on the legal history of Appalachia, property, cartography and the development of territorial jurisdiction.  Dr. Fraley received her J.D. from Duke University School of Law, her LL.M. from Yale Law School, and J.S.D. from Yale Law School.


Jerry Hardt is Communications Director for the grassroots organizing group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. He has worked with KFTC for 30 years in various roles, including balancing the scales editor, media coordinator and occasional financial manager. He lives in Louisville, KY.


Amanda Moore is a staff attorney-legal editor at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. She previously worked at Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center representing clients on coal mining issues. She also teaches legal writing and research at Middle Tennessee State University. Amanda began her legal career clerking at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for then-Chief Judge Boyce F. Martin, Jr.  Amanda received her J.D. from Yale Law School and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Western Kentucky University. She lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.


Hugh O’Donnell has practiced law on behalf of low income people since 1973, and has spent the last thirty years practicing in Central Appalachia. A native of Atlanta, GA, he is a graduate of Yale and Emory Law School and is a Vietnam veteran.  His specialty areas include unemployment compensation and child protection cases.


Mimi Pickering is an award-winning filmmaker and director of Appalshop’s Community Media Initiative (CMI). Her documentaries focus on injustice and inequity, often feature women as principle storytellers and explore the efforts of grassroots people to address community problems that frequently reflect global issues. Pickering is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two Kentucky Arts Council Artist Fellowships. Her film, The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man, was selected by the Librarian of Congress for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 2005.


Stanley Sturgill is a retired coal miner. In addition to his 41 years as a miner, Sturgill also served as Federal Coal Mine Inspector and MSHA Special Investigator.  He is a resident of Harlan County and is active as an advocate and lobbyist around issues effecting his community, including mountaintop removal, mine safety and health, and community development.

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