The SFF leverages robust regional partnerships to convene sector-specific expertise, combine data-based strategies with transformative thinking, and connect with an extended network of anchor organizations, industry innovators, and community leaders across Central Appalachia.

Meet Our Team

The Central Appalachian Network’s Clean Energy Working Group (CAN CEWG) provides core leadership and oversight to the SFF, including review of all SFF-supported project applications. CAN CEWG participants support marketing and outreach for the SFF and assist with regional impact data collection. The group provides a steering function in support of the program, with a funded role for each SFF Review Committee member. The SFF Review Committee convenes regularly to review proposals, coordinate outreach efforts, and assess progress toward program goals. 

The Central Appalachian Network includes nearly 100 practitioner partner organizations working collaboratively across sectors in Kentucky, southeast Ohio, southwest Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and West Virginia. CAN partners with community groups, funders, educational institutions, local governments, and private businesses to advance the equitable, just, and sustainable economic transition of Central Appalachia. CAN’s sector-focused Working Groups coordinate regional analysis and strategies in the areas of Clean Energy, Food & Agriculture, Reuse, and Ecological Restoration. The CAN CEWG builds strong peer networks that allow clean energy practitioners and advocates across the region to develop collective knowledge, analysis, and tools. The SFF Review Committee consists of five individuals from CAN CEWG participant organizations working actively in all six states within the SFF’s service area.

Adam Wells

Autumn Long

Appalachian Voices (AV) provides fiscal sponsorship for the SFF and oversees its core project team. An in-house Director coordinates SFF activities, facilitates the application process for fund deployment, and manages impact tracking and reporting under supervision of a Regional Director. 

Appalachian Voices is an economic development and environmental advocacy nonprofit organization headquartered in Boone, North Carolina, and with offices in Norton and Charlottesville, Virginia, and Knoxville, Tennessee. AV brings people together to protect the land, air, and water of Central and Southern Appalachia and advance a just transition to a generative and equitable clean energy economy. Adam Wells, AV’s Regional Director of Community and Economic Development, oversees the SFF from AV’s Norton, Virginia, office. Mr. Wells has led several multi-state coalition efforts and is co-founder of the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia. SFF Director Autumn Long has seven years of nonprofit management experience and an extensive professional background in renewable energy project development, advocacy, and education.

Andrew Crosson

Invest Appalachia (IA) develops and funds the SFF’s investment finance and credit enhancement strategies. IA’s full set of capacities in support of the SFF includes refining deployment strategies, developing project pipeline, and fundraising. 

Invest Appalachia is a regional blended capital platform designed to accelerate and expand community investment across Central Appalachia. IA builds on the region’s existing strengths, working side-by-side with partners who are rooted in place and understand their community. IA CEO Andrew Crosson leverages a strong understanding of the role that blended capital plays in catalyzing opportunity in underinvested communities and relies on a high-capacity Investment Manager team at LOCUS Capital for financial analysis and investment due diligence.

Hannah Vargason

Partner Community Capital (PCAP, formerly Natural Capital Investment Fund) plays a central role in SFF program design and implementation.

Partner Community Capital is a small-business loan fund that supports entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and businesses in underserved communities in Central Appalachia and the Southeast. PCAP was founded as Natural Capital Investment Fund in 2000 as a supporting organization to The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit organization with a dual mission of advancing conservation that makes economic sense. Hannah Vargason, PCAP’s former Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives, devotes significant capacity to the SFF scope of work and brings great depth of experience and expertise in project finance to our team.

Marc Palmer

Expert third-party due diligence is essential to ensure that SFF-eligible projects are ready for investment. Conductor Solar has established a consistent vetting process to ensure each project meets threshold criteria and has a high likelihood of success in generating the projected private-sector investment. A vetting summary for each project is shared with the SFF Review Committee for final approval.

Conductor Solar simplifies middle market solar deals, saving customers time and money. The company’s web-based app is designed using best practices from hundreds of commercial solar transactions across the country. It connects solar developers and solar investors with one another and provides them with the tools to close deals fast. Conductor Solar CEO and Founder Marc Palmer serves as Financial Review Advisor for the SFF. Mr. Palmer has spent over a dozen years in the finance industry, including the past 10 years exclusively focused on renewable energy project finance.

The SFF is a proud member of the Appalachian Climate Technologies (ACT Now) Coalition’s RePower Appalachia Initiative. In this role, the SFF serves as a coordinating hub for regional development of a renewable energy industry cluster to train the region’s next generation of energy workers, develop a pipeline of “shovel-ready” solar projects, and de-risk private investment in Central Appalachia’s solar energy sector.

The West Virginia-based ACT Now Coalition was awarded $62.8 Million by the U.S. Economic Development Administration in September 2022, leveraged with another $26 Million in match funding, as one of only 21 nationwide winners of the U.S. EDA’s “Build Back Better Regional Challenge.” ACT Now is led by Huntington, West Virginia-based nonprofit Coalfield Development Corporation and includes a broad coalition of cities, economic development organizations, leading academic institutions, and private sector innovators. It works to transform southern West Virginia’s coalfield communities with economic investments and job creation in the solar industry, expansion of technology businesses, energy efficiency upgrades, industrial and brownfield redevelopment, and transformation of abandoned minelands into new sustainable assets.

Thanks to our funders

Support for the SFF is generously provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Sol Systems, Educational Foundation of America, Appalachian Investment Ecosystem Initiative, New York Community Trust, and other pending sources.