Rev. Shannon Spencer, DMin, Executive Director

Shannon is the founder and director of Asheville Poverty Initiative. She has a BS in Special Education from Appalachian State University, an M.Div from Duke Divinity School, and a Doctorate from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. After coaching at the Div. I level in women’s basketball, Shannon finally gave into her call to ministry. She moonlights as a prison chaplain at the Swannanoa Correctional Facility for Women.   

Shannon loves to travel and has lived in South Africa, traveled to Central America 9 times, backpacked across Europe, and believes Western North Carolina is as beautiful as any place she’s ever been. She is mom to two beautiful and rambunctious girls. Her favorite breakfast food is Sunny Point Cafe’s Huevos Rancheros.


Donna Earnshaw, Cafe Kitchen Coordinator

Kitchen Mama Donna, our Notorious KMD, can take the heat not only in the kitchen but with high degrees in lab science and nutrition, as well extensive studies in the culinary arts. Donna has lived in Bucks county Pennsylvania and Philadelphia but she chose to settle in Asheville because she loves the mountains and the people.  Her favorite breakfast food depends on what's in season.


Emily Fox, Community Development Social Worker

Emily is a Social Work alumni from Warren Wilson College who got involved with API back in 2017 when she conducted her capstone research on motivations behind food donation with 12 Baskets Café. Now she works with API while a part-time grad student studying macro social work (community and organizations). Favorite breakfast food is local bacon with black coffee, pared with knitting and good conversation.


Klari Farzley, Volunteer Coordinator

Klari started as a Hands and Feet of Asheville intern and will be transitioning to an Americorps intern with us at the end of the summer. She graduated from Rhodes college and majored in English Literature and Film. She enjoys playing with dogs and making up songs to entertain the 12 Baskets community. Klari enjoys all breakfast foods, especially EGGS!

Sam Whicker, Bonner Leader Intern

Sam is a Warren Wilson College Center for Community Engagement intern with API through the Bonner Leadership Program. She plans to double major in Creative (Non-fiction) Writing and Psychology with a minor in Art and concentration in photography. She’s learning a lot, and values people and their stories even more than she values french toast for breakfast and almost as much as she values coffee.


API Board

Michael Poulus, Board Chair
Phil Leonard, Treasurer
Betsy Wilson, Board Secretary
Mitchell Watson, Board Member
Andrew Thomas, Board Member
Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Board Member
Missy Harris, Board Member