Kentucky Heartwood currently supports three staff for a total of two full-time equivalents and is governed by the Kentucky Heartwood Council. The Council includes our most active volunteers and serves as our board of directors.
Lauren Kallmeyer, Director
Lauren Kallmeyer served on Kentucky Heartwood's Forest Council before transitioning into the director role in 2022. She brings 16 years of experience in corporate America in various leadership, project management, and communications-related roles, and is thrilled to leave the corporate environment and return home to the nonprofit world and her activist roots. She has led several nonprofit boards, has served in AmeriCorps, and has worked as a park ranger at two National Parks.
Lauren is also a clinical herbalist and owns a community-based herbalism practice, Resilient Roots. She consults with people on how to use medicinal herbs to improve their health, teaches educational workshops, and grows medicinal plants on her farm in Berea. Her work as a clinical herbalist includes advocating for the sustainable harvest and conservation of medicinal plants, her farm is a United Plant Savers' botanical sanctuary, and all of this deeply influences her work at KY Heartwood. She is an associate member of the American Herbalists Guild, has an M.S. in Therapeutic Herbalism from Maryland University of Integrative Health, an M.A. in Communication from the University of Louisville, and a B.A. in Anthropology from Centre College.
In her free time, Lauren is usually gardening or hiking with her partner Bernard Clay and their dog Poppy. She also enjoys dancing, biking, and spending long weekends with her friends and family.
Jim Scheff, Staff Ecologist
Jim Scheff worked as the Director of Kentucky Heartwood from 2008 through 2020, transiting to his new role as Staff Ecologist in October, 2020. Before moving to Kentucky, Jim was active in national forest protection efforts on the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri from 2000 through 2008, and has been involved with several regional and national forest protection groups.
Jim earned his B.S. in Biology from Webster University in St. Louis, M.A. in Environmental Science from Washington University in St. Louis, and M.S. in Biology and Applied Ecology from Eastern Kentucky University. The subject of Jim's graduate research at EKU was an investigation into the development of old-growth forest characteristics in second-growth forests in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
When not actively working to protect our public lands and wild places, Jim prefers to spend his time outside removing invasive species, hiking, or climbing various trees, rocks, and mountains. Jim lives in Berea.
Whitney Hamblin, Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Whitney Hamblin is an artist and graphic designer with a passion for visual messaging and meaningful design. Whitney was born and raised in central Indiana where she later graduated from Ball State University with a B.F.A. in Visual Communications. She worked as a designer and outreach coordinator for Growing Places Indy, a non-profit empowering people to cultivate community wellness through urban agriculture, access to fresh local food, and mind body education.
In 2021, Whitney transplanted to Estill County Kentucky to break ground on her farm. She founded Holler Home Flower Farm, where she grows florals for everyday moments and special events. Whitney worked as a custom wedding florist for six years but knew her real passion was making things grow!
Her accomplishments include a 2,189 mile Northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2016, walking from Georgia to Maine through 14 states. Whitney also survived 21-days in the Brazilian Rain Forest on season 10 of Discovery Channel's Naked and Afraid.
In her free time, Whitney loves to hike, forage, and play in the creek hunting arrowheads and agates. She is also a firm supporter of eating dessert first.