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  • Sharon Dunn

Can We Trust Our Government? East KY meets Western MA

On Tuesday, May 25, at 7 pm Hands Across the Hills presents its second live virtual encounter on Zoom. This time Mike Gover and Gwen Johnson of Letcher County, Kentucky, and Pat Fiero and Kip Fonsh of Leverett will discuss “Can we trust our government?” as they share their own stories and those of their neighbors in the southern Appalachian mountains and here in the Northeast.

How does corporate money compromise those who represent us? Can we trust the government for healthcare? for early childhood education? for infrastructure improvement? for foreign policy?

The event will include a chance for viewers to submit questions of their own, which the participants will respond to in real time. This is the second event in this Hands Across the Hills series; the first was on Guns, Coal, Vaccine & Abortion in April of this year, video now posted on the Hands Across the Hills website homepage.

To register for the Zoom link for May 25 go to:

* If we hit our cap of 100 participants, you can view a livestream by clicking on the DISCUSSION tab of the Facebook event.

Bios of the Hands Across the Hills Members in Conversation on May 25

Kentucky-born MIKE GOVER, like his father, made his living from the coal industry. He has served 17 years in administrative levels of local government. He raised four sons in Whitesburg, and has volunteered and mentored at Oneida Baptist Institute, a boarding school, for the last six years. 

GWEN JOHNSON, a self-described hillbilly woman from the coal camp of Hemphill, Kentucky, is founder of Black Sheep Bakery and Catering and board member of Hemphill Community Center. Gwen is the daughter and granddaughter of coal miners. She graduated high school unable to read beyond a second-grade level; she learned to read while reading to her children and went to college the same year her oldest daughter, receiving a BS at the University of Pikeville and an MA at Goddard College in health arts and sciences. She has worked as an administrator in the University of Kentucky’s Early Childhood Development program since 2003.

PAT FIERO of Leverett grew up in New Jersey with a family of Eisenhower Republicans.  She did all but finish her dissertation in Experimental Psychology and has wandered ever since, training as a therapist, serving in the Massachusetts Legislature and developing affordable housing.

KIP FONSH of Leverett was a teacher of social studies at Amherst Regional High School and has served on the Leverett School Board and Massachusetts Teachers Association Retired Members Committee. Like Johnson and Fiero, he has been a member of Hands Across the Hills from its inception in 2017.


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