Often referred to as the leader of inspiration in Appalachian studies, Helen Matthews Lewis linked scholarship with activism and encouraged deeper analysis of the region. Lewis shaped the field of Appalachian studies by emphasizing community participation and challenging traditional perceptions of the region and its people. She has served as the director of the Berea College Appalachian Center, Appalshop’s Appalachian History Film Project, and the Highlander Research and Education Center. She is co-author of Mountain Sisters: From Convent to Community in Appalachia. She has retired to Abingdon, Virginia.