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From our formal incorporation in 1990 under the name of Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF), our organization has evolved into a link-tank (now called LiKEN) connecting wide webs of communities, scholars, practitioners, and government agencies.  From the beginning, our work has been about building collaboration across sectors— linking grassroots community mobilization and popular education, with the best available science while working closely with government agencies.

Our organization has been at the forefront of grassroots mobilization for federal legislation and groundbreaking national and international collaborations to demonstrate and implement safer technologies for chemical weapons, and to support job creation in Central Kentucky through reclamation jobs. In 2006, founding director, Craig Williams, received the Goldman Environmental Prize for this work. In 2018, KEF changed its name to Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN). Our current projects serve communities in Central Kentucky, Central Appalachia, and Native Americans as they build government and scholarly support systems for community-based assessments of risks and benefits to human and environmental health, local public revenues, and local jobs.


Kentucky Environmental Foundation was incorporated.
Craig Williams, founding director

With Craig Williams as its founding director, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation was founded in 1990 by Madison County, Kentucky, residents focused on safe disposal of chemical weapons stockpiled at the Blue Grass Army Depot. Our vision was to ensure that the chemical weapons stored here were destroyed as safely and efficiently as possible, not with incineration as the Army proposed, but with a method that could prevent chemical agents and other toxins from being released into the environment.

KEF has been an integral part of Kentucky’s environmental health and justice movement. For the past 25 years, KEF has participated in many state, regional and national environmental health and justice campaigns and in collaboration with others working to address air, water and soil pollution from both fossil fuels and hazardous waste manufacturing, storage and incineration.


Craig Williams earned the Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in forming a national grassroots coalition against the incineration of chemical weapons stored in the United States, and convincing the Pentagon to halt incineration plans at four major chemical weapons stockpiles.

LiKEN was founded 

Betsy Taylor founded LiKEN with Mary Hufford and Julie Maldonado as a collaborative web connecting communities and scholars in action research for sustainable livelihoods and community resilience. Simona Perry joined soon after.


2016, LiKEN began working with activists, community residents, and scholars across Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina to update the groundbreaking
1979-1981 participatory study of land ownership and public
revenues in Appalachia, titled, Who Owns Appalachia?

With UnivKY faculty, Karen Rignall and Lindsay Shade, LiKENeer Betsy Taylor has been working with over 120 collaborators from
regional grassroots movements and colleges and universities.


Three programs established:

• C2C (community-to-community) Program supports community researchers to build livelihoods in their communities that last, and that they value and want. 

• R2R (region-to-region) Program nurtures inter-regional
knowledge networks for and between science, action, policy,
and justice.
• Civic Engagement Program helps professionals and officials
build skills and nurture values of community engagement.

First LiKEN newsletter and annual report published.

KEF and LiKEN merge

Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) merged with Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) in February of 2018. KEF has maintained its own non-profit status as a 501(c)(3)  tax deductible organization under a Board of Directors who oversee the whole LiKEN network. KEF was designated as a project under LiKEN’s Civic Engagement Program, and Craig Williams was listed as “Program Director.”

  • LiKEN moved into “the Mothership” office on Nicholasville Rd and Rosemont Garden in Lexington, KY.

  • Film release: PROTECT: Indigenous Communities at the  Frontlines of Climate Change & Fossil Fuel Extraction

LiKEN's History in Photos

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