Our Staff and Board



lindaLinda Stout, Executive Director, has been a grassroots organizer and activist for three decades.  A thirteenth-generation Quaker born to a tenant-farming family, Linda founded a successful grassroots organization in 1984, in a conservative region of North Carolina.  PPP worked successfully to forge extraordinary alliances across race and class lines and won major public policy changes.  Linda’s awards include a Public Policy Fellowship from Harvard University, Honorary Doctorate for Allegheny College, and the Freedom Fighter Award of the Equal Rights Congress.  She is the author of Bridging the Class Divide and Other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing, published by Beacon Press. Read more about Linda.

 taijTaij Kumarie Moteelall, SiOP Program Director, is a visionary and changemaker who has blazed a successful path in the arts, activism and philanthropy. She acts on her deep belief that we can restore balance and foster peace, justice and sustainability by creating and build thriving social movements. Whether working with communities of color to achieve self-determination or people with wealth to align their values with their resources, Taij has consistently increased opportunity and access for society’s most marginalized.  She has served as Co-Director of Media Sutra, a strategic consulting and creative services company, and the Executive Director of Resource Generation, a national organization that organizes with young people with wealth.  Read more about Taij.

Connie Fitzgerald, Operations & Finance Director, has worked with non-profits in finance and personnel since the early 1980’s both as a staff member and as a volunteer. She worked with Peace Development Fund for 25 years, 15 years as the Director of Administration and Finance. She is the Treasurer of the Solidago Foundation. She served on Spirit in Action’s Board of Directors before joining our staff in 2007.



Lia KazLia Kaz, North Carolina Organizer, grew up mostly in Massachusetts, and came to North Carolina in 2011 to attend Warren Wilson College. While pursuing her Social Work (BSW) degree, she began volunteering with Spirit in Action. She was the Tzedek Social Justice Fellow in 2016 and currently serves as the North Carolina Organizer with Spirit in Action’s  organizing project, We the People: Working Together.

Lia’s path in social justice work has taken several turns; working in underfunded after school programs, adult mental health recovery communities, protesting and organizing for racial justice, enhancing civic engagement in low income neighborhoods, etc. She enjoys following the question, “What would justice look like, here?”


Tzedek Social Justice Fellow

Tzedek Logo w_Fellowship

Spirit in Action is proud to participate in the Tzedek Social Justice Fellowship (TSJF).  The Fellowship is a unique one-year paid career and community development opportunity for emerging nonprofit and social justice leaders interested in becoming resilient agents of change in their communities. Through the Tzedek program, fellows explore how discrimination based on class, gender, sexuality, faith traditions, and ethnicity intersect in our lives, community, and society while developing the skills needed to become strong and effective community activists, allies, and leaders.

sam-singer-tzedek-2016-2017-editedSamantha Singer, Tzedek Social Justice Fellow – NC Organizer, is a southern queer woman who holds her identities as a caregiver and an ally close to her heart. She was born in Charlotte, NC and moved to Asheville to attend college at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where she majored in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and minored in Sociology. During her time at UNCA she served as the founding co-manager of the university’s first LGBTQ+ resource center Hyannis House. She brings an expertise in team building, facilitation, and transformative conversation skills and deep understanding of religious pluralism to her work as a community organizer.

Samantha is the Tzedek Social Justice Fellow at Spirit in Action, working as a community organizer for the We the People project.  When she’s not working for a more just Asheville, she plays with her roommate’s dog, reads critical race theory, and collects postcards from around the world. Her friends describe her as a supportive listener.

Board of Directors

President – Linda Stout, Black Mountain, NC – see above.

Treasurer/Secretary – Cheri BrittonCheri Britton, Asheville, NC,  M.Ed, is a speaker, author, coach and trainer who has been helping individuals and organizations effectively BOOM Think for over two decades.  BOOM (Break Out of Old Mindsets) Thinking emerged from the experiences, discoveries and epiphanies of Cheri’s professional journey and the not-inconsequential presence of her dog, Boomer.

In her speaking, writing and, coaching Cheri uses metaphors, anecdotes, and powerful exercises to challenge people to confront the limiting beliefs that trap them at places below their potential. She encourages people to step out of this often comfortable yet destructive place where they are simply surviving and create a new way of being that will have them thriving.  The results are literally transformational.

As a single mom raising two kids with special needs, Cheri maintains a realistic view of working professionals who juggle careers with family and outside interests. Along the way on her own juggled journey to BOOM Thinking and take a look at her own Big Buts, she earned her Masters degree at UNC-Charlotte and founded Whetstone Consultations, a consulting business that works specifically with health-care agencies.

Tom LouieDirector – Tom Louie, Brighton, MA, is a long-time organizer, public policy advocate and media skills trainer. He works primarily with grassroots activists and community-based organizations on immigrant rights, public education and language rights issues.   Over the last 4 years, Tom was the Director of Development and Communications at Political Research Associates (PRA).  Prior to PRA, he directed programs at Mass. English Plus Coalition and Mass. Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, organizing statewide advocacy and communications campaigns.  Tom was instrumental in pushing for the passage of legislative provisions protecting the rights of language minority students in Massachusetts and the state’s first Emergency Room Interpreter Services Bill.  More recently, he led the research effort on the needs and status of programs for English Language Learners in the Boston Public Schools for the Citizens Commission on Academic Success.

Director – Bethsaida Ruiz, Oakland, CA, CPC, has worked in the non‐profit sector for more than twenty years. She has worked with people in a variety of settings as a manager, consultant, group facilitator, trainer and coach to support their development as progressive leaders and social activists. Bethsaida helps her clients discover the path to their own life purpose and success. She fosters a path to liberation, personal and interpersonal healing, social action and inclusive community‐building. Bethsaida is committed as a coach/consultant to exploring each client’ passionate journey into the understanding of their consciousness and their soul’ evolution. Bethsaida received her professional coach certification from Leadership that Works. Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Francisco State University. Currently, she is a member of the San Francisco District Attorney’s  Bayview/Potrero Hill Crisis Response Network, Board Member for Center for Transformative Change in Berkeley, CA and Dignity of Man Foundation, Mission Dignity, in San Francisco , CA and Co-founder of SAGE Outreach Project Inspired Action and Semillas De Paz.