Who We Are

The Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc., known as “AppalReD Legal Aid,” is a private non-profit law firm.  Our work is funded by public and private grants and donations. AppalReD offers free civil legal help to eligible low-income people in 37 counties of the Appalachian Mountains and rolling hills of eastern and south-central Kentucky, a region home to more than 240,000 people living in poverty.  AppalReD focuses on legal problems that affect our clients’ basic needs for food, shelter, income, personal safety from all forms of abuse, and safety and stability for children and the elderly. AppalReD does not handle criminal matters.

The people who work with AppalReD are committed to making a difference and ending the effects of poverty in the lives of our clients.  Since its 1970 founding by its first Executive Director, John Rosenberg, a legendary pioneer in Appalachian poverty law, AppalReD’s tradition of excellence has attracted young attorneys and legal workers from all over the U.S., and AppalReD’s intensive training programs and hands-on experience have produced leaders who have gone forward to change the face of life in Kentucky and the nation.  

Today, AppalReD operates six local law offices across the region.  Each covers a defined service area and is staffed by attorneys, paralegals, and legal secretaries with a high degree of specialized training in the legal matters we handle.

Our experts in housing law, consumer law, family law, domestic violence, and public benefits do more than serve our clients.  Annually, our attorneys and support staff host trainings open to private attorneys and legal staff, like our well-known, annual Domestic Violence Conference and Poverty Law seminars.  AppalReD engages in outreach efforts, attending community events and making contact with people to learn more about what is going on in the area.  AppalReD offers a unique Volunteer Lawyers Program, and our Low Income Tax Clinic stretches to provide help with income tax problems to residents of 86 Kentucky counties.   



Table of Contents

  1. Our History
  2. Our Mission
  3. Our Board of Directors
  4. Our Strategic Plan
  5. Our Brochure
  6. Yearly Information about AppalReD Legal Aid
  7. IRS Form 990

Our History

AppalReD began in 1970 and had three operating offices in Prestonsburg, Barbourville, and on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. AppalReD now serves 37 eastern and south central Kentucky counties, and today has six offices throughout the region.

In the early days, AppalReD addressed many devastating environmental and coal mine related issues such as black lung disease, abusive land use practices, and disfigured mountain tops caused by strip mining. AppalReD clients still face some of these same challenges, but even more devastating to the region are the socioeconomic challenges which promote instability and threaten to keep the region mired in poverty.

John M. Rosenberg, Founder of AppalRed

John M. Rosenberg was the Director of Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc. (AppalReD), since it first received funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1970. He held the directors position for over twenty-eight years before retiring.

Prior to his career at AppalRed Legal Aid, John served for eight years as a trial attorney and Section Chief in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice from 1962 - 1970, litigating discrimination cases primarily in the deep south. John's area's of practice have been primarily those of environmental law, and representation of the elderly. He has authored a number of articles on these matters.

November 1, 2019 - ABA Journal "Holocaust survivor has dedicated his career to serving others"

October 23, 2019 - The Paintsville Herald "Rosenbergs honored among 'Champions of Appalachia'"

Watch EKB's May 29, 2017 broadcast of One on One with John Rosenberg

On September 17, 2016, John was presented with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award.  For a video of John's remarks that evening click here.

In April of 2015, John was presented  the American Bar Association Grassroots Advocacy Award for his longtime service and his outstanding work in providing access to legal services.  

In May of 2015, John was presented with the Jewish Family & Career Services 2015 MOSAIC Award.  https://jewishlouisville.org/jfcs-2015-mosaic-awards-honorees/

In November of 2015, John was honored by the ACLU of Kentucky for his lifetime work of leading AppalReD.

John is featured in the book This is Home Now: Kentucky's Holocaust Survivors Speak  by Arwen Donahue, Rebecca Gayle Howell, and Joan Ringelheim.

On October 2013, John received the 2013 Difference Makers Award from the American Bar Association.

On June 2013, John received the Kentucky Bar Association Distinguished Lawyer Award.

On April 29, 2004, John received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Lawyer Magazine.

In December of 1999, John was presented a Doctor of Public Service Degree from Morehead State University and in January 2000, he was presented a Doctor of Laws Degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN.

On June 29, 1997, John was featured in The New York Times Magazine - "What's a Nice Jewish Lawyer Like John Rosenberg Doing in Appalachia?"

Read Mr. Rosenberg's article:
Reflections on Bringing Justice to the Citizens of Appalachia

West Virginia Law Review - Personal Reflections of a Life in Public Interest Law:  From the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to AppalReD


Our Mission

To promote equal access to justice, to encourage self-sufficiency, to empower and to improve the lives of low income and other vulnerable people and families in eastern and south central Kentucky by providing them high quality legal assistance.

Our Board of Directors

Board Counsel:   J. Warren Keller, Attorney, Taylor, Keller & Oswald, PLLC

Board Chair:   Carolyn Layne, Client Representative, Allen, KY

Board Vice Chair:  Joseph Lane, Attorney, Prestonsburg, KY

Board Treasurer:  Meena Mohanty, Attorney, Richmond, KY

Jessica Carlington, Client Representative, Jackson, KY

Edna Bland, Client Representative, Barbourville, KY

David Wright,  Assistant Dean of Student Services, UK College of Law

Jacqueline Burkhead, Client Representative, Somerset, KY

Donald Jones, Attorney, Paintsville, KY

Damon Preston, KY Public Advocate

Marilyn Morgan, Client Representative, Stinnett, KY

Patricia Thomas, Burkesville, KY

Thomas Hollon, Beattyville, KY

Amber Sisco, Attorney, Pikeville, KY

Justice Daniel J. Venters, Somerset, KY

Travis Rossman, Attorney, Barbourville, KY

Jonathan Meadows, Financial Oversight Committee Advisory Member - Woodforest National Bank

Our Brochure


Yearly Information about AppalReD Legal Aid

IRS Form 990