Headwaters Welcomes New Watershed Coordinator

Elizabeth M. Looney
Watershed Coordinator
Headwaters, Inc.

My name is Elizabeth Looney and I am the new Watershed Coordinator for Ky Headwaters! I have lived in Southeastern Kentucky most of my life and Letcher County has been my home for over 10 years. A long-time member of the Fleming-Neon Church of God, I was a single mom to 2 little boys for a very long time. I recently got married to an ex-rock’n’roller, who now travels the region playing gospel music. I also work as a substance abuse counselor, so the common issues that most Appalachians face, are very dear to my heart.

After struggling through the obstacles of Appalachian life myself, I know first-hand the environmental and economic barriers that people face in this region. In 2014, I pursued my education because I finally realized that was the only way I was ever going to be able to financially support myself and my 2 children. Deciding to study Criminal Justice was driven by my desire to work on social justice issues, policy change, and just maybe get the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others in my community.
I earned 2 Associates degrees in Applied Science and General education from KCTCS. As a recipient of the Colonel Plus Scholarship, I transferred to Eastern Kentucky University where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Going to Graduate School was a no brainer for me. I knew that if anyone was ever going to take me seriously on a professional level, I would need the academic qualifications and credentials to go along with my personal experience to validate my seat at the proverbial table. I continued at EKU, earning a Master’s degree in Juvenile Justice, Policy, and Leadership. These accomplishments were so important because they not only represented a great personal achievement, but they also represented a freedom from poverty for my family.
As the new Watershed Coordinator in Letcher County, the element of my job that I am most excited about is community engagement. Headwaters’ mission is to connect with people in the area, and hear what the community is saying about their needs. We aim to teach new behaviors and develop community projects that will provide solutions to problems that effect the whole community. With help from our partners, we can restore our region’s rivers and property to a healthier state of community and contribute to future tourism possibilities that will also impact the county’s economy.
My personal focus as Coordinator is to create a new educational campaign to develop a more effective community engagement effort. With partners such as the UK-CARES, Eastern Ky Water Network, the Appalachian Citizens Law Center and many others, Headwaters’ main objective is to encourage a healthier and safer environment for eastern Kentuckians. So… I look forward to working closely with our partners and all volunteers that want to help with stream clean ups and other upcoming events. Thank you for your support and much needed participation.

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