President of the Board
As a student, Erica came on board as an intern for SOCM where she pioneered a bill to revitalize coal communities by changing the severance tax on coal companies to one on oil and gas.
She has since graduated from Law School and passed the bar.
In 2018, Erica was one of only 18 young people across the country to be awarded the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty Award by Marguerite Casey Foundation.
“I had the honor of representing SOCM as a 2018 Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty … I joined 17 other youth activists and the Marguerite Casey Foundation board of directors in Seattle, Washington for a weekend of celebrating the incredible social justice work going on across the country. … [SOCM] is doing challenging and pressing work at the intersection of poverty, racism, and systemic oppression. I am thrilled to be a part of a motivating and ever-growing network of youth activists … I truly believe that young people have the ability to make the world a better place, and I am thankful for those who support us in that pursuit.”
At the 2019 Annual Meeting, Erica Davis was elected unanimously as the youngest President of the Board in SOCM’s 47 year history.Read Erica's Story
Vice-President of the Board
Read Tiara-Lady's Story
“I am a proud unapologetic black woman who just happens to be disabled by the crippling effects of Diabetes and Schizo-Affective Disorder. However, my disabilities do not define who I am. I am fulfilled being the mother of two beautiful home-schooled children, Leilani age 12 and Kalani age 11, plus I am a community Elder to other children. I was an Executive Director of a local branch and then The Missions Impact Director of The YMCA of East Tennessee. I have earned degrees from Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee in Physical Therapy and a dual Masters in Biomechanics and Sports Administration.”
Secretary of the Board
Leith is a long-time, active member in SOCM, as well as numerous civic and grassroots organizations. As a member of the Roaring River Chapter, she participates in their annual fundraisers, including the Walk for Justice. Outside of SOCM, Leith makes educational materials for Montessori schools.
Treasurer of the Board
Originally from Alabama, Patricia settled in Maury County and began teaching in the local public school system.
Throughout her career she has championed the rights of children, parents, and teachers and continuously pushed to improve public education. After voicing her concern about a lack of racially diverse teachers in the district, the district retaliated by transferring and eventually firing her, with their email exchanges stating that the transfer was because of her race. This began a discrimination suit that lasted several years.
After she left Maury County Schools, Patricia Hawkins served for one term as a County Commissioner, where she continued to champion public education, transparency, and racial justice.
Read Patricia's Story
“We have to move forward. Never look back unless there is something there to push it forward.”
Cumberland County Chapter Representative
Gayle is in the first year of her second term as the representative for her beloved Cumberland Chapter. She has been very active in Lands Unsuitable for Mining Petitions, stopping coal ash landfills from locating in areas that would adversely affect sources of drinking water for local residents.
She is currently focused bringing a solar power array to the Mount Pleasant community and pushing for TVA support of the project.
Read Gail's Story
“…this is a win-win for everyone…. TVA enhances its solar capacity and it’s reputation by generating renewables which neither deplete nor harm the environment … and our community takes its place as a leader in pursuit of green energy as well as being able to identify a specific need within the community that cost savings from the solar project would support.”
Knoxville Chapter Representative
Originally from Texas, Travis is a former-educator and union organizer. Throughout his life, he has fought for public education and fair pay and treatment of teachers.
After moving to Knoxville, Travis got involved with his local SOCM chapter, eventually joining SOCM’s statewide Social Justice Committee with a focus on education. He led SOCM to become a founding member of TPEC (Tennessee Public Education Coalition).
In 2018, he worked with Reverend Charles Foster Johnson, founder of Pastors of Texas Children – a multi-faith coalition focused on protecting Public Education in Texas, and SOCM members to found Pastors for Tennessee Children (PTNC). Later that year, Travis led the efforts statewide public education tour with stops in Knoxville, Mount Pleasant, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis.Read Travis's Story
Maury County Chapter Representative
Joycelene is a resident of Mt. Pleasant in Maury County. For nearly a decade, she has been active in the fight for clean and affordable water, and better public schools in her community.
Roaring River Chapter Representative
Doug is a long-time SOCM member. He serves on both the SOCM Board and the SOCM Resource Project Board. He is passionate about environmental justice.
Rutherford County Chapter Representative
A founding member of the Rutherford County Chapter, Scott served for several years as chapter chair. Under his leadership, the chapter led many successful campaigns around worker’s rights, housing justice, solid waste, and racial justice.
Scott is an active union member, organizing a statewide defense of public sector jobs from privatization. He has been a speaker at multiple events, addressing the various economic and social issues affecting the Middle Tennessee area, and Tennessee as a whole. Scott is known by grassroots organizations throughout Middle Tennessee as a stalwart champion of equality and justice.Read Scott's Story
Born and raised in the Cumberland Mountans, DJ Coker was intersted in protecting the environment at an early age. He studied science and biology at Alice Lloyd College in Knott County, Kentucky before moving back to Tennessee. DJ then became engaged in community organizing in 2016 out of concern over the environmental impact of corporations.
“I got interested in the environment an early age. I think I was 10 when I first made a stand against people littering…. Science was always my passion…. I studied biology so I could help the environment. Clean water is necessary for life – you can have all the dirty water in the world and what good is it going to do you?”
DJ Coker, alongside fellow SOCM Board member April Jarocki, is co-coordinator of the Citizen’s Water Monitoring Project (CWMP). CWMP recruits and trains volunteers to conduct citizen water testing on local water supplies.
Since coming on board, DJ has greatly assisted SOCM with it’s citizen air and water quality testing. In 2017, he put this to use during a citizen’s mine inspection of the Clearfork Surface Mine, which had applied for phase one bond release. DJ worked with members to collect water samples and document the reclaimation efforts, as well as any shortcomings.
Since joining SOCM, he has gone to Washington D.C. several times with other members and allies to plea for better treatment of the Appalachian region. For example, in 2019, he lobbied to get the RECLAIM Act passed, which would have helped revitalize coal communities.Read DJ's Story
Jean has been an active member of the Cumberland Chapter for over a decade. Locally, she helped lead the charge to stop blasting damages to people’s homes from mining operations.
Like Gayle, Jean has also been active in Lands Unsuitable for Mining Petitions, stopping coal ash landfills from locating in areas that would adversely affect sources of drinking water for local residents. She’s helped stop two different landfills in environmentally-sensitive areas.
Recently, Jean Cheely has been vigilant about a large junkpile in Crossville, leading chapter efforts to monitor drainage and solid waste rules to ensure her county stays clean.
Jean runs her home on solar energy, and in 2012 she recieved a negative energy bill which she enthusistically shared with her fellow SOCM members.
Read Jean's Story
“I take much pride in promoting green power production to my neighbors. That is worth a lot.”
April Jarocki works with AmeriCorps VISTA at Woodland Community Land Trust. She is also a coordinator of the Citizen’s Water Monitoring Project (CWMP), a local initiative that recruits and trains volunteers to test and monitor local water sources.
April comes from a family of environmentalists. Her mother was vice-chair of the Community and Economic Development Network of East Tennessee. She wants to ensure that the mountains she love will continue to be there for her children.
“I spent a lot of years looking for home. My children love these mountains. There’s something about this part of the mountains that feels like home. I want my kids to see that when they’re older, and I want my grandkids to see that. I want those kids to swim in the creeks, and to see these beautiful mountains.”
Recently, April has also focused on the lack of broadband access in rural communities.Read April's Story