The Jackie Ward Foundation Mission
To ignite a spirit that promotes and nurtures the Arts while enriching the educational opportunities for our community.
Jackie Ward Foundation Board of Directors
Michael Levi Borkman - Chairman
Ryan Bender - Vice Chairman
Eurial Turner - Treasurer
Dawn Livingston - Interim Secretary & Fundraising Chair
Brian Gatti - Grounds-running Committee Chair
Larry Payne - Chaplain
Susan Borkman - Member
Crystal Bryson - Member
Mary Jo Dyre - Member
Misty Kelischek - Member
Elizabeth Clement - Member
Michael Levi Borkman
Talk Show Host/Producer/ 95.1 FM WJRB /97.7 FM WJUL The Talk of the Mountains
Part owner in the firm Business Solution
Business Consultant, Executive Coach adviser and mentor. Strategic Consulting, including business plan & sales strategy development.
The Host and producer of a recorded 20- minute show on 95.1 fm that focus on great people with great stories who prove in their lives that "Anything is Possible." We strive to bring you relatable life lessons from these interesting and inspiring people as they live out their purpose on this earth. "It's time for some good news that you can use!!!
A native of Gainesville, GA, Ryan Bender graduated from Young Harris College with his BA in Musical Theatre in 2011. Later that year, he joined the team at The Learning Center! Charter School and helped establish their drama program as English and drama teacher. Since their beginnings, the GrowZone Players have gone on to perform annually every spring. In 2012, Ryan spent a year in New York, working and performing with various theatre groups there, before returning to The Learning Center in his former position. In 2015, Ryan developed the ARTrageous program, which is a night dedicated to celebrating the Arts in the larger community. In May 2019, Ryan accepted the position of Head of School at the Learning Center! School, which he has enjoyed ever since.
Eurial Turner received a Bachelor’s Degree in Forest Management from the University of Michigan in May 1974. Shortly thereafter he started his career with the Southern Forest Experiment Station, a research unit of the U.S. Forest Service located at 701 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana
Over the next 38 years, Mr. Turner held a variety of positions with the Forest Service. He held key leadership positions in North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, Ohio, and Georgia.
Mr. Turner spent the last eight years of his career in the Forest Service’s national headquarters in Washington, DC serving as a Senior Staff Assistant to the Deputy Chief and Deputy Director of Civil Rights.
Throughout his career, Mr. Turner received significant awards. He received distinguish recognition from Tuskegee University for his support and contributions in natural resource management; He completed the Senior Executive Fellow Leadership Program at Harvard University; He received the Regional Civil Rights Award in Fire and Aviation Management for his “…Outstanding Contributions to the Region 6 Civil Rights Program…”; Mr. Turner was recognized by the Craven County Board of Education, New Bern, North Carolina for his contributions to the county school programs.
Since retiring in 2010, Mr. Turner is very active in the Texana Community as well as in several organizations in and outside of Cherokee County. He is currently serving as president of the Texana Community Club; President of the Tri-state Chaplain Corps Veterans Mission council, serving veterans in north Georgia, east Tennessee and western North Carolina; He has mentored youth in the Texana Community as well as serving as a Big Brother in the Cherokee County school system.
Mr. Turner is very active in his church and community working with the youth – developing current and future leaders. He is married and has six children and eight grandchildren. He enjoys spending time with the family, traveling and playing golf.
Dawn is the Director of Program Ministries at Hinton Rural Life Center, joining the staff in August 2016. She has worked with people in poverty for over 15 years and is a certified trainer through Bridges Out of Poverty, and both Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid. Dawn is an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church, earning her Master of Divinity in 2013 from United Theological Seminary in Ohio. She is active in leadership at the Bridge recovery worship community. Dawn is a member of the Rotary Club of Clay County, serves as a trustee on the ReFrame Foundation Board for home repair organizations, and is currently part of a two-year cohort through Disciples of Welcome, focusing on bridging community divisions. Fun facts about Dawn: She enjoys spending time with her three “furry kids” (her dogs), reading, traveling, drinking coffee, and creative activities such as painting, writing and crocheting. In fact, she has written a devotional booklet for missions every year she’s been at Hinton Center, and she has dreams of writing a book someday.
Mary Jo Dyre
Native Mississippian, Mary Jo Dyre, has never wavered in her pursuit of education as a career, teaching English at both the high school and community college levels and then moving into administration. Moving to Cherokee County, North Carolina, since 1979, Dyre's two young children fueled a passion in her to see educational choices available in the mountain region that she had made her home. She founded The Learning Center in 1983 and was instrumental in working with a group of interested educators and parents to open what is now known as The Learning Center! Charter School, one of the first 34 North Carolina Charter Schools. In 2008 with the celebration of the school's 25th anniversary as a regional school choice, Mary Jo Dyre, Director, and Karen Brinke, Assistant Director established The Jackie Ward Foundation in honor of Jacqueline Marie Ward who had impacted in many powerful ways the community in which she had lived. As she currently moves into a "slow retirement" as Director of The Learning Center! Charter School, Dyre is shifting her education focus to building a strong platform for Open Education, inclusive of a distributed leadership approach, strategic planning for the school she has long served, along with advocacy for rural schools in general. Currently Dyre is also actively working on both fiction and nonfiction writing. Serving on the board as a member of the Jackie Ward Foundation allows a rich opportunity to keep arts in education.
Brian is a middle school math teacher in Murphy, NC. He grew up in Nantahala, NC surrounded by Appalachian culture, where he grew a love for traditional music and dance. In 2018, he graduated from Western Carolina University with a B.S. in Middle Grades education. While there, Brian was a member of the 500+ Pride of the Mountains Marching band and marched with them in the 2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Brian joined the Jackie Ward Foundation as a way to give back to the community that has supported him so much. He is still an avid dancer, performing with the clogging and morris dancing teams at the John C. Campbell Folk School.
After many years in professional theatre and getting a doctorate in clinical psychology, Larry is a Christian counselor in Murphy, NC.
Susan is an accountant, by trade. You would never apply the stereotypical idea of an accountant to the petite ball of energy that is Susan. She’s not “just an accountant”. She’s truly a business visionary. Lending her gift of relatable stories and southern humor in a communication style that, while professional, is personable, endearing and most of all impactful. Verbally illustrative, Susan is a talented educator. When she started her own company, Business Solutions, nearly two decades ago she understood the struggle small business owners face. Plumbers can plumb, but they are inept at financial projections for the fiscal year. The local country store learns how to get the best price wholesale for the merchandise they carry and how to save on delivery but they’re often clueless they’ll need to plan for seasonal payroll increases.
A Macon County native, Crystal graduated from Nantahala School then earned a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 and a JD from Appalachian School of Law in 2008. She loves the outdoors, sports, and living in the mountains. She resides in Andrews with her husband, son, and pets.
Misty returned to the area from Asheville in 2008 to be closer to family and to transition her career from busy hairstylist to educator. She is currently the Spa-Therapies Coordinator at Tri-County Community College, striving to lead her students and advisees toward fulfilling jobs in the salon and spa industries.
Misty and her family live in Brasstown, where they enjoy nature, Folk School culture and art. Her second passion is painting, creating works in her home studio. She is presently studying to complete her BFA from Western Carolina University.
Elizabeth has been apart of this community since 2004. The past four years she has been Guest Services Associate at the Hinton Rural Life Center. Prior to moving to the area she lived in Atlanta. She attended pottery classes at Callenwold Fine Arts Center. While there she developed a passion for the arts. She later taught pottery classes to homeschooling students and a class for adults with the Fulton County Art Program.