Mountain Xpress presents — Asheville’s influentials for 2016

Xpress is proud to present Asheville's eight influentials for 2016. Pictured from top left: Jon Menick, Phyllis Utley, Steph Monson Dahl, Annie Butzner, Zoe Rhine, Tyrone Greenlee, Tom Godleski. Photos by Emma Grace Moon

Our area sees its fair share of awards and recognition ceremonies. And many dedicated individuals receive well-deserved attention for the work they do to make our community a great place to live.

But it often seems a small group of movers and shakers get all the glory, while the energy and talent of legions of other contributors remain hidden in plain sight.

So, in the spirit of our mission to build community and foster civic dialogue, Xpress set out to find some of those lesser-known folks who are quietly doing important work in the Asheville area. We put out a call for nominations and received a total of 41. From there, our editorial team conducted background research on the nominees, including interviews with colleagues and collaborators. Gradually, over a series of meetings, the list was narrowed to eight outstanding influencers.

The nominees, overall, embodied a high degree of the qualities we were hoping to celebrate. That’s the calling card of a committed community: We have an abundance of passionate citizens mobilized to make a difference in the Asheville area. We realized, through the course of this project, it only scratches the surface of all the active, influential people in our region. As such, Xpress hopes to revisit this concept in the future.

Xpress applauds the work of those profiled here, and we hope you will be as inspired as we have been to learn more about their motivations and contributions.

Xpress editorial staff


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Below are Asheville’s eight influentials for 2016. Click on a picture to read a profile on that person:



Jon Menick


Phyllis Utley


Steph Monson Dahl


Annie Butzner


Zoe Rhine


Tyrone Greenlee


Tom Godleski


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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

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