National speaker: Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson
Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is a 34 year-old, Affrilachian (Black Appalachian), working-class woman, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. Ash-Lee is the first Black woman executive director of the Highlander Research & Education Center, a social justice leadership training school and cultural center founded in 1932. Through popular education, language justice, participatory research, cultural work, and intergenerational organizing, they help create spaces — at Highlander and in communities — where people gain knowledge, hope, and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible. Ash-Lee is a long-time activist working against environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia - and has fought for workers' rights, racial justice, women and LGBTQUIA+ rights, reproductive justice, international human rights, and led-intergenerational social movements across the South. She serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly and is a nationally recognized leader in the Movement for Black Lives.