Meet the 2023 Coaching for Transformation Cohort

The West Virginia Community Development Hub (The Hub) is proud to announce the start of the Coaching for Transformation Fellowship Program. Starting January 25, twelve people will participate in the fellowship from 11 communities throughout the Mountain State. During the fellowship, cohorts will work together in various in-person and virtual sessions to learn about leadership development by utilizing their existing strengths and helping them better understand how they can show up and be more intentional leaders.

Cohorts will meet for five sessions over a nine-month period as they learn some of the tools and skills to take their leadership and community development work to the next level. Through The Hub’s program, cohorts of the Coaching for Transformation fellowship get to tap into a network of like-minded West Virginians working to improve their communities.

“One of my favorite things about our fellowships is how they connect people from different communities helping to foster a network of people working together to help West Virginia,” says Stacy Thomas, the Community Coaching Programs Coordinator. “The Coaching for Transformation Fellowship program offers people tools that they can take back to their communities to help teams push forward projects to boost their economic diversification.”

We are thrilled to announce the 2023 Coaching for Transformation Cohort Class:

Brittany Blackham has been planning, developing, administering, and managing awarded grant projects for nearly 8 years. She has been a grant writer with city, county, and state government through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and for several arts nonprofits. Within the Economic Development Department, she presently drives new initiatives at the City of Clarksburg for local community and economic benefit. Some of her past experience includes two terms of AmeriCorps National & Community Service, creative writing instruction for adult at-risk populations and through the Western PA Writing Project for youth, the delivery of mindfulness programming, and as a County Criminal Justice Advisory Board Secretary.

 

April Elkins Badtke is the Corps Director for Stewards Individual Placements, she is a proud native of Southern West Virginia. April is a community advocate and spends time developing or supporting youth programming, whether aligned with her career or with her volunteer efforts. Currently, April is the President of The Beckley Rotary Club, the third-largest Rotary Club in West Virginia. When not working or volunteering, April enjoys exploring WV with her husband, two daughters, and miniature Schnauzers.

 

V Konopka is a new Community Coaching Associate with The Hub’s team and is passionate about working with Appalachian communities. Their background is in public history, community development, storytelling, and teaching. V loves using storytelling and history as a way to build relationships, pride, and a sense of identity within communities. They are looking forward to continuing this work at The Hub and strengthening their skills through peer learning in the Fellowship.

 

 

Ricci LaRoue values coachability, enthusiasm, agency, and advocacy in her efforts to celebrate and improve life in West Virginia. She is a Marshall University student working on a psychology BA with a minor in sociology. She plans to join an AmeriCorps VISTA program in the fall of 2023.

Ty Lucas is committed to improving the lives of Appalachians who have been historically underrepresented in national academic and popular discourse concerning queerness and class. Ty believes that by practicing vulnerability and learning from the stories of our neighbors, we can improve the lives of those living in West Virginia. He currently works as the AmeriCorps VISTA lead with Step By Step, a non-profit organization in Charleston that provides student enrichment opportunities for underprivileged youth in Kanawha, Logan, and Lincoln counties. In his free time, you can usually find him hiking, entertaining his two cats, playing nerdy board games, and cherishing his time with loved ones and friends.

 

 

Krista Jent graduated from Morehead State University, class of 2017, she has worked in the Social Work field since graduating. Krista is the Family Enrichment Center Director and the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator with the Williamson Housing Authority in Williamson, West Virginia.

 

Tracy McCoy has been the Executive Director of the Summersville Convention & Visitors Bureau since October of 2021. Born and raised in NY, she is now proud to call Almost Heaven WV her home. Tracy is very passionately and energetically serving her community by promoting tourism in Nicholas County with a particular emphasis on the Summersville area. She completed the Champions for Change Fellowship program in October and is very excited about participating in the Coaching for Transformation Fellowship with her peers.

 

Lora Michael lives in Mannington, West Virginia with her husband Bill and daughter Leah. She is currently the first female Mayor of Mannington and the President of the Women’s Club of Mannington. She is a volunteer at the Cross Soup Kitchen. Lora’s motto for her city is “why not us” and works hard each day for the betterment of her city.

 

Kalyn Obiozor-Dorey served as the Racial Equity Fellow for The Hub last year. In September, she transitioned to one of the Community Coach Associates. She hopes to use the knowledge gained to impact the community she serves. Kalyn graduated from Marshall University with a Bachelor’s in Business Entrepreneurship and a Master’s in Leadership focused on Nonprofit and Organizational Management. Kalyn is also a Doctorate of Executive Leadership candidate with the University of Charleston. Kalyn looks forward to serving the communities in WV in a different capacity and hopes to hone her leadership skills and build relationships.

 

 

Bryan Smith is the owner and founder of the Taylor County Adventure Club and leads the Taylor County Parks and Recreation Commission. Bryan has been instrumental in increasing recreational opportunities in Taylor County, including the addition of inflatables at Tygart Lake State Park.

 

 

Dara Vance is the Assistant Director of the Valley Works Resource Center in Rainelle, West Virginia. She served two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Meadow River Valley Association. Dara moved to WV in 2020 and lives in the Meadow River Valley.

 

Tina Westfall-Allen is a native of Hinton, West Virginia. After graduating high school in 1993, she moved away from West Virginia for 26 years, the majority of the time being in Cincinnati, Ohio where she earned a degree in Business Administration and spent most of her career in clinical research administration. After moving back to Southern WV in 2020, she began working full-time for the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and part-time for the City of Hinton in grants administration. Tina will be joining The Hub in 2023 as a Grants Administrator. She also serves in multiple volunteer capacities within her community of Hinton and is passionate about the revitalization and growth of her hometown and state.

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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.

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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

It has been a year of abundant opportunities and partnerships across the state, and a year that has pushed all of us to work harder, faster, and smarter – together.At The Hub, we say that “the work works when you put in the work.” This means that our approach to community-based development, and individual leadership development, really does transform local communities, especially when we all work together for the same goal, and stay committed to working together for the long haul.A growing number of towns across the state are putting themselves on the “growth map.” Princeton, Richwood, Elkins, New Martinsville, Parsons, Petersburg, White Sulphur Springs, and so many more communities we have worked with are all putting in thousands of hours of volunteer work. This commitment has helped local leaders improve their communities. These improvements can be seen increasingly through the growth of local economic and business development in each of these towns.We extend our deepest gratitude to everyone for being part of the larger Hub community as we reflect on this year’s deep impact in West Virginia communities through our work. We are thrilled to have champions who believe in our mission that every community in West Virginia can achieve economic growth when they are supported with the tools and training they need to lead and spark positive change.We believe strongly in the fact that putting in the work yourself to improve your neighborhood, your town, and our state is where true transformational change happens. With strategic partners and thought leaders like you in the work with us, we continue to be able to walk alongside community teams as they do the work to uplift their communities.Thank you to all of the community teams and leaders who are brave enough to keep showing up every day. Your determination in the face of difficult work and far-off successes is something to applaud yourself for, and celebrate together.Whether you’re volunteering on the ground in your community, sharing our stories of hope with your friends and neighbors, or attending a virtual event with The Hub, your participation in our work is what keeps it going. Thank you for all your work and support this past year, and we are excited to continue in the work with you in 2023!In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

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.

Partner Feature:

Our work is made possible thanks to incredible partnerships with other community development organizations across the state. From local economic development authorities (EDAs) to state level nonprofits working to uplift communities, all of our partners are crucial in making West Virginia the best it can possibly be by working together.One partner that made our work truly profound this year is Coalfield Development. For years, Coalfield Development has worked to rebuild Appalachian communities by inspiring the courage to grow, activating the creativity to innovate, and cultivating communities of opportunity in central Appalachia.We are proud to be part of Coalfield Development’s ACT Now Coalition, a broad network of organizations working hand-in-hand to uplift communities throughout Southern West Virginia. The ACT Now Coalition is infusing more than $63 million into programs to help communities using business development, building revitalization, and so much more.The Hub is leading the Community and Business Resilience Initiative as part of the larger ACT Now Coalition to bring other partners with us to build up community and business resilience in the Coalition’s footprint.“For decades, we’ve known the economy of southern West Virginia needs diversification. Some progress has been made on this goal, but not nearly enough,” Brandon Dennison, CEO of Coalfield Development, said about the ACT Now Coalition. “ACT Now constitutes a tangible opportunity to take a major leap forward in this generational challenge to become a vibrant, growing, diversified economy. In the wake of continued coal-job losses, nothing could be more important for our region.”Our partnership with Coalfield Development is giving us a chance to take our work to new communities and to build upon our years of experience. Working alongside Coalfield Development in this large undertaking to bring $63.8 million to communities in Southern West Virginia is validation that the work happening to uplift West Virginia communities continues to grow.

Community Feature:

The Hub works alongside communities across West Virginia coaching community teams as they come together to make transformative changes in their towns. In 2022, one town stands out for its continued work and unwavering commitment to making its community a place where people want to live, work, play, and visit.Petersburg, located in Grant County at the northernmost point of the Mon Forest, is filled with community members who want to make their town a destination. Not only have businesses opened, and stayed open, the town has transformed the way they present to the world through rebranding and outdoor recreational development.As part of the HubCAP IV program, Petersburg utilized its technical assistance to push forward with projects to bring transformative change to its community. Part of the work Petersburg worked towards was creating plans to pave a hike and bike trail that runs along the Petersburg dike. The proposed trail will run approximately three miles along the Petersburg dike and will include multiple entrances for walkers and bikers. The group secured a $25,000 grant from Senator Hamilton, which was matched locally by the City of Petersburg, the County Commission, and the Board of Education, each adding an equal share to bring the total to $50,000.This year, Petersburg witnessed a major upgrade to one of the town’s most iconic and historic structures: The Hermitage Inn. The hotel, which dates back to 1841, has been renovated and once again welcomes guests to stay the night and have a nice dinner in the restaurant.The Hermitage Inn is the first project initiated and completed as part of the Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreational Economies (DARRE) program. Seeing the old hotel returned to its majesty has been an incredible development for Petersburg adding another jewel to the downtown area.Seeing Hub communities come together to create transformative change thrills us. Community members are the subject matter experts on what their towns need. Our commitment to accompaniment and walking alongside communities as they do the hard work guides us in our work. Celebrating their victories with them gives us a moment to uplift those making the work happen.

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.

DEI Journey:

Since 2018, The Hub has been working diligently to bring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into our work. For years, the organization has been working internally to expand on one of our core values: “We believe diversity creates strength.”We believe that now is a time when we must work from the ground up to commit to long-term efforts to build power through leadership development, programmatic strategies, and partnerships that commit to building power and advancing racial equity.Looking back at our organizational history, we acknowledge that our work in rural communities with populations of less than 15,000 has not reached a diverse cross-section of people in West Virginia. Because of this, we began to ask, “Who isn’t here?” when examining our involvement in communities. The social unrest in 2020 led us to examine our role in white supremacy, ableism, classism, and gender discrimination, and the ways we have perpetuated unjust systems in our communities and across West Virginia.Since 2020, our equity journey has included a staff racial equity learning series, making internal commitments to increasing our hiring and retainment of diverse staff including creating full-time Racial Equity Fellowship and VISTA positions, committing to increased coaching for rural communities of color across the state, and tackling the inherent challenges of advancing equity across the community development field within a highly rural, majority white state where Black and brown leadership has been historically marginalized and under-invested.Our belief in the power of local people to see the value and the potential of their place, and of each other, is at the core of our belief in the potential we have to build power in West Virginia to advance racial equity, inclusion, and accessibility while disrupting systems that have historically excluded some communities.We are committed to engaging in conversations to uplift communities and leaders of color to move from talk to action on why race matters in West Virginia as we work to disrupt these systems. We will support investment in Black-led organizations and rural Black leadership. And we are committed to driving public and private investments into these spaces, both organizational and geographic.

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.