Liz Pahl first encountered Carol Kuhre and Ada Woodson Adams when she was working for the Athens County Foundation, where Carol was President of the Board of Directors and Ada was on the Board.
“I was talking to Susan Urano, who was the executive director at the time, about how blown away I was by their wisdom during a board meeting,” Liz says. “I told Susan someone needs to make a film about these women. She said, ‘You should do it.’ I laughed it off, thinking someone else would. I’m a musician, but I’d never made the leap into filmmaking.”
After Liz left the foundation in 2015, the idea of telling Ada and Carol’s stories still haunted her. “I just felt like I had to do it,” she says. “Their stories had really permeated my mind and my heart and my soul. I thought, ‘If I don’t do it, no one else is going to.’”
Six years later, the premiere of Legacy: Women of Southeast Ohio, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27 at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. The project has grown to include two more women, resulting in four short films about people who have had a profound impact on Southeast Ohio – and beyond:
- Ada Woodson Adams, local historian, civil rights activist and former President and co-founder of the Multicultural Genealogical Center in Chesterhill
- Carol Kuhre, community organizer, social and economic justice stalwart, and Co-Founder/former Executive Director of Rural Action
- Dr. Francine Childs, Professor Emerita of African American Studies at Ohio University, civil rights and social justice activist
- Dr. Dru Riley Evarts, Professor Emerita, Scripps Journalism School at Ohio University, and three time Ohio Alumna.
Liz took a documentary filmmaking class at OU to help formulate a plan for the project, and Andie Walla volunteered to serve as Director of Photography.
“Once I said I was going to do this, people came out of the woodwork to ask how they could help,” Liz says. She also relied on a GoFundMe campaign to raise money, as well as grants from several organizations and individuals, including the Women’s Fund at Athens County Foundation.
“It was very important for me to have their actual physical faces and voices tell their own stories,” says LIz, director and executive producer of the four films that comprise Legacy. “I wanted to literally hear their vocal cords tell these memories, to hear the passion in their voices, to hear their emotions, and to have everyone else see them as the strong, amazing women that they are.”
Carol Kuhre certainly qualifies as a “strong, amazing” woman.
“Her talents are being able to see the strengths in other people and bring them together to build plans and connect them. That’s her gift – bringing people together to strengthen causes and create change and focus,” Liz says. “It’s been such a wonderful joy to spend time with her and talk about her life, her struggles. One thing I love is that Carol is a very faith-driven person. She’s really passionate, and when she’s knowledgeable about something, she’ll give you action steps on how you can learn more. She’s a teacher in that way.”
Liz also was pleased that Michelle Decker, a former Rural Action CEO who now serves as President and CEO of the Inland Empire Community Foundation in California, appears in the film to talk about Carol’s impact. “Michelle was with Carol as an undergrad volunteering at Rural Action before when it was AOPIC (Appalachian Ohio Public Interest Campaign),” Liz says. “It was great to get her point of view.”
After the premiere showing on Aug. 27, there will be a short Q&A with the filmmakers followed by a reception.