Meet the first cohort of the Advanced Community Coaching Fellowship!

The WV Community Development Hub is thrilled to announce the inaugural cohort of the Advanced Track of our Community Coaching Fellowship Program! Ten individuals from throughout the state of West Virginia will take part in the program, which is designed to grow leadership, advance collaborative coaching skills, and help participants advance a project they’re working on in their community.  

When the program kicks off in October, each of the fellows will be paired with a coaching expert from The Hub to assist with their development journey.

“We are excited to launch this program and go through this process,” said Stacy Thomas, Community Coaching Associate and Coaching Fellowship program lead. “We have an incredible cohort and they are already doing amazing work around the state.”

The application process for the Fellowship was very competitive; though we received many amazing applicants, the goal of the program is to provide individualized attention to a small group of Fellows. Learn more about the ten community changemakers who will soon begin their coaching journey below. 

Kelley Burd-Huss is the Community Development Coordinator for Preston Trail Towns (PTT), a project of Friends of the Cheat. PTT bridges the communities of Preston County through outdoor recreation, placemaking and community development. Originally from Harrison County, Kelley earned her BA from West Virginia University and a JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She developed a keen interest in community development after leaving corporate tax and meeting her neighbors in Houston’s historic Third Ward. Kelley thrives on finding creative solutions and means to overcome community challenges, and is happiest when engaging her communities and moving ideas toward action. After ten years away from home, Kelley has been blessed to live in the Cheat River Valley since 2019. She currently lives in Stewartstown with her husband David, three children, and three dogs.

Reed Byers is the Change Agent and Creator of the How to Save a Life program at GiveMore Connections. He is a Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist, a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Certified Race Director, and a Community Coordinator at Healthy Kids Running Series. He uses his lived experience with mental health and addiction to empower others to find their unique road to recovery, while promoting health and relationship building throughout the community. Reed stays active in his community by serving as a member of the Board of Directors for: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (WV Chapter), The Suicide Awareness Alliance of Washington County, Ohio, The Boys and Girls Club of Pleasants County, WV, and Generation Mid-Ohio Valley.


Candice Helms may not be native to West Virginia, but upon moving here from Austin, Texas in 2015, she quickly found herself deeply in love with the mountains and a huge desire to do better 2015, she quickly found herself deeply in love with the mountains and a huge desire to do better by her community, Hinton. After serving on the Hinton HubCAP team, in May of 2019, she enthusiastically signed on as the Hinton Historic Landmarks AmeriCorps member. Her focus during this term and beyond, is to empower the locals, preserve Hinton’s history, and be an example of what little we can do to make a huge impact.

Sherri L. James is currently the Program Director for the Kelly Miller Community Center, as well as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Monticello On-going Revitalization Effort (M.O.R.E.), both non-profit organizations in Clarksburg, WV who focused on providing services and support to improve the lives of children, families, elderly and homeless folks in our community. She currently writes grants to secure funding for programs and infrastructure, as well as, coordinates programming and events throughout the year. She currently is a member of the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival Board and the Chairman of the Fundraising Committee, as well as a member of the The WVU United Hospital Center Board. She loves gardening, large family get-togethers and exercising.

 

Jamila Jones-Fleet is founder and President of Innovative Community Solutions, a non-profit focused on minority economic development and diversity in technology. She is also CEO of Innovative Solutions Technology. She also currently volunteers as the Jefferson County NAACP Economic Development Committee Chair, on the Board of the United Way Eastern Panhandle, and on the Advisory Board of the Bank of Charles Town (BCT). She enjoys hiking, cooking and gardening in her free time..

 

Amy Loomis, MPA, is a community development professional working in member services and neighborhoods revitalization for the Morgantown Area Partnership, a coordinated alliance to pursue holistic strategies for the betterment of economic, business, and community development. Amy believes the world is a better place with facilitation, consensus planning, creative placemaking, conflict transformation, and swing dancing!

 

Olivia Morris is a West Virginia native who resides in the hills of Fayette County. She works for Generation West Virginia, whose mission is to attract, retain, and advance young people. She enjoys a myriad of hobbies including rock climbing, swimming, performing arts, and binge watching YouTube videos. She is passionate about the future of the Mountain State and is excited to grow her leadership in order to support community members as they bring their visions to life.

 

Museum Director Mackenzie (Kenzie) New-Walker is a young community organizer, museum professional, local historian, and advocate for historic preservation in and across southern West Virginia. Kenzie graduated from Marshall University in 2018. She is committed to sharing the stories of her ancestors, and leading and collaborating on community-based projects that celebrate diversity and invoke the public’s collective memory. Kenzie serves as the Project Coordinator for the 2021 Battle of Blair Mountain Centennial. Kenzie grew up in the southern coalfields of WV as a daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of union coal miners.

 

Caroline Smith is the Program Director for Stewards Individual Placements, based out of Beckley, WV. As Program Director, she is afforded the opportunity to support, collaborate, and create change with communities, organizations, and national service members across the country. Caroline holds a BFA from Ohio University and an MPA from West Virginia University. When not working, she enjoys reading, hiking, creating, and spending time with her partner, daughter, and furry friends.

 

Ray Smith is from Jane Lew, located in Lewis County, West Virginia. He was a general manager for a travel complex for over 30 years and changed career paths to being Executive Director of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce. He is involved in many community organizations and events, and takes great pride in supporting, working with everyone, and serving his community.

 

 

You can learn more about the Community Coaching Fellowship Program and application process here.

If you have questions about the Community Coaching Program, reach out to Stacy Thomas at s.thomas@wvhub.org.

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Watch real stories of West Virginians who are bringing hope to their communities.

For too long, who and what it means to be a West Virginian has been defined for us. It’s time to redefine the Mountain State in our own words and in the eyes of the world. West Virginia can be anything we want it to be – let’s redefine it together.

Parsons

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Message from our Executive Leadership Team

Fifteen years ago, stakeholders building up local communities and economies in West Virginia convened to map a coordinated strategy to systemically grow community economic development activity in the state. From the shared vision and collaborative leadership of dozens of strategic partners across the state, the WV Community Development Hub was born.

Since that time, The Hub has grown into the anchor community development organization serving West Virginia. We have built upon the original vision to create a method for rural, community-led development strategies that is uniquely tailored to the needs and opportunities of our state.

As we have grown and developed a proven model for success, our partnerships with community and economic development practitioners, funders, and committed West Virginia residents have been foundational to every element of our work.

Over the past two years, the team at The Hub has adapted to the unprecedented challenges our communities have faced during the pandemic by leaning into our core strengths to deepen our impact. The Hub remains committed to tackling persistent challenges, and we have focused our attention on the most impactful elements of our work.

We are supporting community leaders to advance their visions for local development, creating new pathways for engagement and leadership growth through our virtual training platform, and leading strategies that lift up voices of community leaders to move forward solutions to long-held challenges to growth.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that nothing about the future is set in stone. While the coming year may present enormous opportunities for advancement in our state, they will also inevitably require significant capacity building, shared strategies that are grounded in trust-based partnerships, and extended efforts to support the leadership development of individuals and organizations who have been asked to do more during a time of extreme stress and strain.

The services that anchor organizations like The Hub provide are even more critical in this time, and we expect our work to scale significantly in the coming years ahead.

We look forward to continuing to do the work of putting into action the vision and the shared strategies envisioned by that core group of community economic development practitioners and funders fifteen years ago.

In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

Emma Pepper

Director of Strategic Network Communications

Katie Loudin

Director of Strategic Development

Montgomery

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Smithers

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Kingwood

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Lewis County

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Meadow River Valley Region

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Monticello Neighborhood of Clarksburg

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Watch their community documentary.

New Martinsville

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Systemic Change

2021 became a time period of catalytic potential as we saw years of investment into our core strategies to enact systemic change yield new results. Our strategic focus areas include policy, communications, and supporting the community economic development system in leveraging unique financing opportunities such as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and Opportunity Zones.

In addition, through our strategic policy support role within the Abandoned Properties Coalition, The Hub successfully advanced two key objectives: the creation of a statewide land bank at the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation and extension of the state’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. 

Through the Opportunity Appalachia program, 6 catalytic community projects located in WV-based Opportunity Zones received $250,000 for pre-development technical assistance. Three projects received additional private funding as a result of program participation.

Community Coaching

In 2021, we accompanied 16 communities through our in-depth, professional coaching programs. In addition to leaning into coaching and financing opportunities offered through these programs, participating communities leveraged an additional $2.8 million in funding on their own for community economic development projects. While participating in our entry-level coaching program, Cultivate WV, Montgomery and Smithers realized momentum-building success through access to $40,000 in seed funding for projects like farmers markets, public art, wayfinding, community events, and development of a trail system.

Six communities, Lewis County, Kingwood, Meadow River Valley, Monticello neighborhood in Clarksburg, New Martinsville and Parsons, graduated the intermediate planning program Blueprint Communities* with strategic plans in place. We also launched a new round of HubCAP, our flagship community economic development program, in six towns located in the Monongahela National Forest region: Cowen, Franklin, White Sulphur Springs, Elkins, Marlinton, and Petersburg.

Elkins

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. 

A core team led by Woodlands Development Group also participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Franklin

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Marlinton

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Petersburg

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

White Sulphur Springs

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Charleston

A core team led by Crawford Holdings, LLC participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Huntington

Core teams led by Thundercloud, Inc. and the City of Huntington participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support community development projects located in Opportunity Zones.

Grafton

A core team led by Unleash Tygart, Inc participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Leadership Development

As hundreds of people began to engage in our virtual training activities in 2020, we saw a critical opportunity to scale and deepen our impact. This year, The Hub team developed an accessible, virtual platform with options for self-guided and group learning activities as well as professional coaching.

Kickstart Communities is now the crux of our efforts to bring new people into the work and grow their leadership. These activities now form the foundational stages of a Community Leadership Development Pipeline to move motivated residents from seeing the challenges in their communities to proactively collaborating to resolve them.

Cowen

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. Read their community case study.