Sara Day Evans

Founding Director, Accelerating Appalachia

Louisville, KY

Accelerate Collaboration, Regenerate Soil & Nature  |  Community Economic Development, Environmental Sustainability, Incubator / Accelerator, Rural Community Development

Sara Day grows nature-based businesses for good in Appalachia.

Sara Day is an award-winning, innovative program developer, social entrepreneur, and pollinator who for over 20 years has delivered outstanding results through strong leadership, creativity, and collaboration. Her inspiration in launching Accelerating Appalachia was borne out of a variety of circumstances: a natural evolution of her ongoing commitment to people, place and prosperity in Appalachia; conversations with leaders in the dynamic field of social enterprise; her own connection to place as a 6th generation Kentuckian; her service to distressed communities in Appalachia to help rebuild the loss of their furniture, textile, and farming economies while with the NC Department of Commerce; her impactful work with Kentucky’s Environmental Protection Cabinet; and the deep influence of her longtime friend, Wendell Berry, father of sustainable agriculture, and her parents and children. As a geology and hydrogeology major, she was the first undergraduate to have her enrollment petition accepted to study water law at the University of Missouri School of Law. She’s also an accomplished musician, writer and poet.


  • Leveraged over $250 million in development funding to serve rural and distressed communities in Appalachia.
  • leverages 10x the cash budget towards in-kind services for Accelerating Appalachia’s nature-based businesses and program
  • Developed Kentucky’s first resource conservation fund, positively impacting the land, air, water and 4 million Kentuckians; resulting in an 85% decrease in illegal dumping and a 25% increase in recycling over five years.
  • Assisted over 300+ small businesses and communities in the southeast in sustainable development.
  • Developed North Carolina’s first Green Economy Resources Directory
  • As a citizen, she developed the first groundwater protection program in Columbia, Missouri.
  • U.S. Presidential Commendation for her work with women and health in Appalachia
  • Two Outstanding Environmental Protection Cabinet Employee Awards