Liz Pahl met Ada Woodson Adams and Carol Kuhre when she worked for the Athens County Foundation in the mid-2010s.
“I remember thinking, ‘I’ve heard their names,’” Pahl said. “But when I learned about their contributions to this area, I was blown away.”
Kuhre, a longtime community organizer, co-founded Rural Action and had served as its executive director. Adams, an activist and historian, is the former president and co-founder of the Multicultural Genealogical Center in Chesterhill, Ohio.
“At the time, my daughters were little, and I thought, ‘I want them to hear their stories,’” Pahl said.
Even after Pahl moved to a job with Ohio University, the idea of influential southeastern Ohio women and their journeys stuck with her.
“This project haunted me — it chose me and wasn’t going to let go until I got it done,” she said.
Along the way, Pahl had found two more inspirations: civil rights and social justice activist Francine Childs, professor emerita of African American Studies at Ohio University, and Dru Riley Evarts, an icon to generations of graduates of the Scripps School of Journalism at OU.
“It was always going to be a film,” Pahl said. “I wanted you to see the emotions on their faces.”
But Pahl had never made a film before, so she asked her friend Andie Walla, assistant professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies, for advice on getting started.
“She was like, ‘You’re the director-producer, you need a director of photography,’” Pahl recalled. “‘I’ll do it.’”
The team was rounded out by Delia Palmisano and Melissa Salpietra, both experienced media and multimedia producers.
The result is “Legacy: Women of Southeast Ohio,” a series of short (10–15 minute) films that showcase each woman’s story and reflections in their own words.
The project received support from the Athens County Foundation’s Women’s Fund, Stuart’s Opera House Afterschool Music Program, the Flournoy and Voss families, and a GoFundme campaign.
Receiving funding from two former employers — the Athens County Foundation and Stuart’s Opera House — was “really special for me,” Pahl said.
Pahl plans to enter the films in the Athens Film Festival and to embed them on her website, www.lizpahl.com.
A public screening will be held this Friday, Aug. 27, at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. A moderated Q&A with the filmmakers and the women in the film will follow. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the show beginning at 7 p.m.
Although admission is free, tickets are being sold as a fundraiser for the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society. To purchase tickets, go to www.stuartsoperahouse.org. Options are available at $5, $10, $20 or $50.
Stuart’s Opera House’s requires all patrons to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the show. All patrons must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.