Congratulations Mary Hunt on 22 years of service at the Benedum Foundation!

Mary Hunt participates at a WV Community Development Hub Think Tank event

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announced that Program Director for Community and Economic Development Mary Hunt is planning to retire in June 2022. We are sending congratulations and gratitude out to Mary Hunt as she looks forward to this next chapter!

In the same way that The Hub team walks alongside West Virginia residents and partners to build up communities, Mary Hunt has walked alongside The Hub team. Her insight has been a part of The Hub’s work since Day 1 of our organization, and our gratitude is endless for her thought leadership, cheerleading, connections to new partners, support in scaling up our work, and more over the years.

Mary’s career spans 4 decades. If you want to read more about Mary’s positive impact, check out this story in WV Living when Mary was named 2019 West Virginian of the year.

We’re including the announcement from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation below – including quotes from Kent Spellman (The Hub’s former Executive Director) and Stephanie Tyree (The Hub’s current Executive Director) about Mary’s impact on our work.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announces the planned retirement of its program director for community and economic development, Mary Hunt. A native of Clarksburg, West Virginia, Ms. Hunt joined the Foundation on December 1, 1999.

Lloyd Jackson, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees commended Mary’s work saying, “Mary has been a valued member of the Benedum Foundation family for over 20 years. She always was the consummate professional and the value she has added to the organizations, communities, and especially the people she worked with over those years is immeasurable. We will miss Mary, but she leaves the Foundation with a rich legacy, the value of which few people ever create, and for which she forever can be proud.”

Mary came to Benedum with experience in both government, at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and the private sector, at Toyota, where she held management roles with responsibilities in finance, human resources, and general administration. During her time at Benedum, Mary championed community-led strategies and brought new thinking to the Foundation about how to shape greater impact. “Mary is completely devoted to community development,” said Benedum President Jen Giovannitti, “and that is why she has successfully forged strategies within Benedum to leverage big federal grants, support housing and entrepreneurship, nurture new sources of investment capital, scale the work of critical capacity building intermediary organizations, and invest in downtown redevelopment.”

In addition to her deep love of West Virginia, Mary has a spirit of optimism. She maintains a passion for Michael Benedum’s viewpoint that “we know not where a seed may sprout.” Brandon Dennison of Coalfields Development Corporation has worked with Mary for years and said, “Mary Hunt believed in Coalfield Development as an innovative organization, and in me as a young leader, very early on in our formation. Without a doubt, I’m one of several hundred young leaders in this state whose lives were changed by Mary. Sometimes, innovation gets messy. It takes grit to stick with the vision. And it takes persistent problem solving to overcome barriers. Her ability to make good work happen is unrivaled.”

In the last decade, Benedum has helped leverage more federal dollars into West Virginia by embracing agencies like the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as trusted colleagues. Mary set out to build capacity and help communities apply for the larger, more ambitious POWER grants from the ARC. In fact, Mary realized early on that philanthropy alone would never be the answer, so she built partnerships and invited others to add resources. In 2010, under Mary’s leadership, Benedum was part of a small group of foundations with the ARC that envisioned a funders network for central Appalachia, and after over a decade of continual funding, the Appalachia Funders Network has grown to a level of both independence and national recognition as a leader of innovative work.

Stephanie Tyree Executive Director of West Virginia Community Development Hub (The Hub) and Kent Spellman, founding Executive Director of The Hub both worked with Mary for years. Kent Spellman said, “It was Mary who pushed for the development of a Community Development Model that would bring better returns, and Mary who was more responsible than any other individual for the creation of the West Virginia Community Development Hub to implement that model.” Stephanie Tyree explained, “Mary is a sounding board and a thought partner; a dreamer and maker of the future who shows up each day with unreasonable optimism, which helped make all of us who worked with her more optimistic about the change we could make. Her energy and positivity rubbed off on all of us.”

Mary Hunt played such a pivotal role in helping communities help themselves that in 2019 she was recognized by West Virginia Living Magazine as West Virginian of the Year. Her work models how philanthropy can invest in growing rural intermediaries and create the right environment for true systems change. Congratulations to Mary Hunt on an impactful career!

Are you the Benedum Foundation’s next Senior Program Officer for the Community & Economic Development Grantmaking Program in West Virginia? 

Find the job listing on their site »

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redefined is a storytelling project on a mission.

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.