Upstander or Bystander?

The Power of Community

We all have the power to make positive changes in our communities, but sometimes it feels difficult to move forward from our awareness of a problem to a place of acting towards a solution. Luckily, the Athens area is full of organizations and individuals who are doing the work to better our communities. In this panel presentation, we will hear from a handful of local luminaries who will share their experience and advice from the many years that they have spent strengthening and uplifting the Athens community and beyond.


Ruth Dudding, CHES, CHW, Director of Community Health and Engagement of Athens City-County Health Department

Ruth Dudding, CHES, CHW, is the Director of Community Health and Engagement at the Athens City-County Health Department (ACCHD). She works with community partners and ACCHD’s Health Education Division to improve the quality of life for people living in Athens County through enhanced environments and policies that support active living, healthy eating, mental health, racial equity, and healthy aging. Ruth loves to work with the community to develop new public health strategies to address community health challenges.


Faith Knutsen, Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service

Faith Knutsen is the Director of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Service, where she is employed since 2008. She directs the School’s impact enterprise services, which bring venture development services, capital access and social impact measurement tools to social enterprises, nonprofits and impact funders in rural SE Ohio and contiguous states. She lectures at the University and to community and civic organizations on social enterprise, entrepreneurial ecosystem development, venture development toolkits, and grantwriting. Previously, she held an executive administrative role at Sunpower, Inc., an engineering R&D firm founded by her father, William Beale. Faith began her professional career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in central Africa and has served as a periodic consultant in multiple nations on the African continent. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a master’s degree from Ohio University. She is a member of multiple social enterprise Boards, of the Athens County Port Authority, and of Marietta College’s entrepreneurship advisory board. She is an amateur fiction writer and playwright, and the parent of two twenty-somethings.


Leah Magyary, Executive Director of The Dairy Barn Art Center

Leah Magyary is a community leader and the executive director of The Dairy Barn Arts Center with over 15 years of nonprofit experience. Her background is in leadership and fundraising as the past Director of Donor Relations at Marietta College. She has a master’s degree in museum studies and many years of experience working for organizations like The North Carolina Arboretum and Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Her past museum work includes creative program development for all ages and abilities, donor stewardship program management, and innovative technological implementation. Community access to art is her passion and expertise, and The Dairy Barn is a perfect outlet for her creativity.


Jessie Powers, Executive Director of Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia

Jessie Powers is the Executive Director of the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA), a council of governments, managing and developing the Baileys Trail System in partnership with the Wayne National Forest. Jessie grew up in North Carolina and Mississippi, but spent countless holidays and summers visiting extended family in Hocking County, Ohio. Prior to her role as Director, Jessie served as Athens County Regional Planning Director, worked in the community development field at local and state levels, and is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Jessie is a passionate public servant, and her experiences in the United States and abroad inform how she approaches challenges and pursues opportunities in rural Appalachian Ohio. Jessie and her family enjoy spending time outdoors and love adventures involving hiking, biking, and camping.