who we are

Echo Valley Hope Board Members

Shamariah Brown  – Born and raised in Cincinnati OH, Shamariah discovered an attraction to gardening while working in a community garden. That lead to working on issues around food access and community development through AmeriCorps. She has been an active member of her neighborhood, South Cumminsville community council and served as coordinator of the community garden. She strives to find effective ways to have good food accessibility in her community.

Kathy Dancy lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois and is a former network news video editor. She is the adoptive mother of two children, now adults, who were gifted with special needs. She recently rediscovered her love of digging in the dirt; planting seeds and watching food emerge from the earth. When not gardening or fishing, Kathy volunteers at her local food pantry.

Dena Eakles is founder of Echo Valley Farm and Echo Valley Hope. A lover of life, people, and the earth, she holds to fundamental beliefs of the possibility of peace, the need to restore human dignity, and the urgency of now. She insists on having fun and surrounds herself with great people, great actions, and beauty.

Cassi Effing is a nurse in Indianapolis. On a daily basis she sees people at their weakest and most vulnerable, reinforcing that we are here to help each other and be real. Helping craft Echo Valley Hope’s fundraising letters and offering public relations assistance, Cassi’s goal is to help people realize that peace is not just a nice idea to talk about–it is something we can choose every single day.

Joyce Firestone lives in Miami. Currently a substitute teacher in the public schools; past career endeavors have included a business offering interior renovations for private planes, yachts, cruise ships and residences; and organizing and managing meetings, trainings, and events in Miami and around North America. She has been a member of the board of Echo Valley Hope since its inception, and enthusiastically supports its initiatives toward sustainability and peace.

Melissa Gordon Rhine lives in Atlanta. She’s a music educator, performer, composer, and band leader for New Territory. Her ensemble is based on improvisation and her positive spirit, performing jazz and many other styles rooted in experiences obtained as she traveled throughout the world. Melissa has performed and organized musicians at Echo Valley Hope events and has served as a board member for fourteen years, proudly supporting its initiatives and educational opportunities toward peace and sustainability.

Lauren West has resided at Echo Valley Farm for eleven years. She loves sharing knowledge of food and cooking with others. She is passionate about sustainable living and finding creative ways toward peace. Lauren has served on the board and the fundraising team since 2013. She helps maintain the vision of Echo Valley Hope. She is currently studying western herbalism at the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.