Small Communities, BIG Solutions

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Each year, the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development team up to shine a spotlight on southern West Virginia, by hosting the Small Communities, Big Solutions Conference. This event showcases all the successes and highlights what is working across the southern part of the state. Each year a mix of community leaders, educators, businesses and public officials come together to network, share ideas and learn what is working well in our state. With a sold-out crowd each year and overwhelmingly positive feedback from our attendees, we are excited to announce that our third annual conference will be held virtually during November 16 to November 19, 2020. This year, marks our first year of hosting a student track for juniors, seniors and college and training students – November 20.

2020 Professional Track Program Sponsor: United Bank

2020 Sponsors: West Virginia American Water, AARP, Marshall University Research Corporation, West Virginia Executive Magazine and Appalachian Power, with more being added weekly.

2020 #WVSolutions Seekers, Student Leadership Conference Program Sponsor: Kroger

Small Communities, BIG Solutions 2020 Schedule

Monday, November 16: Our Economy

Morning Session:
9 a.m. Opening Session

  • Sara Payne Scarbro, Operations Council Chair, Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern WV
  • Stephanie Tyree, Executive Director, West Virginia Community Development Hub
  • Brandon Dennison, Founder & CEO, Coalfield Development

9:15 a.m. Congressional Update

  • U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (invited)
  • U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (invited)

10:05 a.m. State Update

  • WV Department of Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch or
  • WV Development Office Executive Director Mike Graney

10:30 a.m. Small Business Update

  • Karen Friel, District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office

Afternoon Sessions:
11:30 a.m. Ten Points to Ponder … “Is Rural America Ready for the Recovery Phase”

  • Lorie Vincent, Founder and President, ACCELERATION by design

1 p.m. Workforce Development Solutions

  • Moderator: Brandon Dennison, Founder and CEO, Coalfield Development
  • Scott Adkins, Acting Commissioner, WorkForce WV
  • Charlotte Weber, CEO, RCBI and VP for Federal Programs, Marshall University
  • Rev. Matthew Watts, Executive Director, HOPE CDC
  • Dave Lavender, Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, West Virginia Development Office

2:30 p.m. Social Enterprise in West Virginia

  • Moderator: Dr. Kelli Johnson, Associate University Librarian and Head of Access Services and Outreach, Marshall University Libraries and Online Learning
  • Ursulette Huntley, Executive Director,  Unlimited Future
  • Chris Yeager, Owner, Appalachian Cannabis
    EDGE rep

Tuesday, November 17: Our Health

Morning Session:
9 a.m. Opening Session

  • Dr. James W. Nemitz, President, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine 

9:15 a.m. COVID-19 Update

  • Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s Coronavirus Czar and Vice President & Executive Dean for Health Sciences, WVU (invited)

10 a.m. Speaker TBD

10:30 a.m. Stigma and Social Determinants of Health

  • Dr. John F. Kelly, ABPP, Elizabeth R. Spallin Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Afternoon Sessions:
11:30 a.m. Dimensions of Recovery: Keys for Creating Recovery Friendly Communities

  • Ashley Shaw, Director of CORE, Marshall Health
  • Debra Davis. Executive Director, One Voice
  • Emily Birckhead, Executive Director, WV Alliance of Recovery Residences
  • Dr. Jeremy Hustead, Assistant Professor and Medical Director, Inpatient Dual Diagnosis Unit, WVU Medicine’s Department of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry

1 p.m. Prevention, Addiction, Recovery and Reentry Expert Panel

  • Moderator: Susie Mullens, Coordinator, West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network
  • Lata Menon, CEO, First Choice Services, Inc.
  • William Thompson, Judge, Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit
  • Beverly Sharp, Director of Reentry Initiatives, West Virginia Council of Churches
  • Gregory A. Puckett, Executive Director, Community Connections, Inc. 

2:30 p.m. Strengthening West Virginia’s Behavioral Health Workforce for the Future

  • Moderator: Terri Baker, Grants Project Manager, Center for Rural and Community Health, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Carolyn Canini, Director of Behavioral Health Programs, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
  • Rebecca Roth, Director, Office of Policy, Planning, & Research, West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health

Wednesday, November 18: Our Education

Morning Session:
9 a.m. Opening Session

  • Dr. Jerry Gilbert, President, Marshall University and Chair, the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern WV

9:15 a.m. Higher Education Presidents

  • Moderator: Bill Bissett, President & CEO, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce

10:20 a.m. Speaker TBD

Afternoon Sessions:
11:30 a.m. Building Broadband

  • Moderator: Kelly Workman, Administrative Director, West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council
  • Natalie Roper, Executive Director, Generation West Virginia
  • Brad Hall, Vice President External Affairs, Appalachian Power Company
  • Rob Hinton, Chairman, West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council
  • USDA representative

1 p.m. Diversity & Inclusion

  • Moderator: Dr. Michelle Taylor, Associate Professor, Bluefield State College
  • Dr. Kelli Johnson, Associate University Librarian and Head of Access Services and Outreach, Marshall University Libraries and Online Learning
  • Scott Pitt, Director of Safe Zone, Bluefield State College
  • Jamecia James, Director, Black Lives Matter Huntington
  • Aaron Preece, AccessWorld Technology and Information Specialist, American Foundation for the Blind

2:30 p.m. How Public Education and Higher Education are working together

  • Moderator: Donna Peduto, Executive Director, WV Public Education Collaborative
  • Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor, WV HEPC and CTCS
  • Clayton Burch, State Superintendent, WV Department of Education

Thursday, November 19: Our Communities

Morning Session:
9 a.m. Opening Session

  • Kendra Boggess, President, Concord University

9:10 a.m. Update from Tourism

  • Chelsea Ruby, Commissioner, WV Office of Tourism

9:30 a.m. Update from the USDA

  • Kris Warner, State Director, USDA Rural Development in West Virginia

9:50 a.m. Quality Water for all West Virginians

  • West Virginia American Water rep.

10:10 a.m. In the Spirit of Community, In the Spirit of West Virginia

  • Andrew Dawson, Market President, United Bank

10:30 a.m. POWER of Performance Awards Ceremony

  • Presented by: Kathy Cosco, Communications Specialist, RCBI and Brittany Bruce, Projects Coordinator, MURC & Logistics Coordinator, The Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern WV
  • Putting People to Work
  • Revitalizing Communities
  • Changing Lives

Afternoon Sessions:

11:30 a.m. Natural Elements Enhancing Outdoor Recreation and Business Opportunity 

  • Moderator: Carol Howerton, Senior Strategic Advisor for Workforce Development, RCBI
  • Jeff Lusk, Executive Director, Hatfield-McCoy Trails
  • Amanda Ramey, Assistant Manager, City of Hurricane
  • Diane Barnette, Business Leader, Appalachian Outpost, Fountain Place Cinema 8, Gatti’s Pizza of Logan
  • Lisa Strater, Executive Director, Visit Southern WV

1 p.m. The Impact of COVID-19 on the Local Level

  • Moderator: Paul Daugherty, President & CEO, Philanthropy West Virginia
  • Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin, City of Charleston
  • Anne Bowling Tuckwiller, Executive Director, Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation
  • Mayor Robert Rappold, City of Beckley
  • Janell Ray, CEO, Pallottine Foundation of Huntington and Executive Director, Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon

2:30 p.m. WV Women Moving Forward


Student Conference Logo

Friday, November 20: #WVSolutions Seekers Student Leadership Conference

Morning Session:

9 a.m. Opening Remarks

9:10 a.m. Ice Breaker Exercise

  • Dr. Michelle Taylor, Associate Professor, Bluefield State College

9:40 a.m. The Importance of Service and Giving Back to our Communities & Student Awards

  • Allison McGee, Corporate Affairs Manager, Kroger Co.

10 a.m. Introduction of Keynote Speaker

  • Dr. Jerry Gilbert, President, Marshall University

10:05 a.m. Keynote Address

  • Brad D. Smith, Executive Chairman & former President and CEO, Intuit

Afternoon Sessions:
11:30 a.m. Design for Delight: An innovation and problem-solving workshop

  • Tricia Ball, Associate Director, iCenter and Interim Associate Director, Brad D. Smith Business Incubator
  • Ben Eng, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Marshall University, Lewis College of Business

1 p.m. The Place Where We Belong: A student leaders & WV professionals panel

  • Moderator: Tiffany Ellis-Williams, Director, WVSU Economic Development Center
  • Kayonjra Guerrant, Student, West Virginia State University
  • Lynne Fruth, President and Chairman, Fruth Pharmacy
  • Karen Williams, Retired, Educator/Activist

2:30 p.m. Juggling it All: Caring for yourself and your community

  • Moderator: Terri Baker, Grants Project Manager, Center for Rural and Community Health, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine     
  • Annette Johnson, Peer Recovery Support Specialist, BridgeValley Community and Technical College, Southern West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network
  • Kelli Crabtree, Director of Personal and Academic Development, Coalfield Development

3:30 p.m. Closing Remarks & Giveaways

Learn more about Small Communities, BIG Solutions

About our Conference Partners

Official Conference Hosts

Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia

The Alliance is a joint venture among West Virginia’s 10 southern colleges and universities to better connect the educational resources and workforce training offered in Southern West Virginia. The goals of the alliance are to promote the region, eliminate redundancies, share best practices, improve the quality of life for area residents, create jobs, keep West Virginia’s talent pool in the state and revitalize southern communities. The alliance partner institutions include Bluefield State College, BridgeValley Community & Technical College, Concord University, Marshall University, Mountwest Community & Technical College, New River Community and Technical College, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia State University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology. The alliance is focused on a 21-county area, including Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Putnam, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Webster and Wyoming counties, and represents more than 30,000 students.

West Virginia Community Development Hub

The West Virginia Community Development Hub mobilizes residents from all over the state to spark transformational change and progress in their communities. Hallmarks of the organization’s work are to spur on fresh momentum where little exists; to unite the forces of groups that have not considered – or even resisted – collaboration in the past; and to champion new, and sometimes unexpected, leaders. Over the past year, the hub has worked directly with 27 counties across the state and 1 in 5 West Virginians have been reached by hub-related projects over the past year. More information about the hub’s work and impacts over the past year is available at .

Coalfield Development

In 2009 volunteers started to address concerns about housing in Wayne, West Virginia. It was quickly realized that traditional charity was not nearly enough to address the deep, generational challenges faced. After intense community engagement, they pioneered a relationship-based, holistic approach to on-the-job training. Unemployed and underemployed people were hired to construct green affordable housing. Today, they have grown into a family of social enterprises working throughout the region as a leader in the building of a new economy in the wake of the coal industry’s rapid decline. They have created more than 100 on-the-job training positions, more than 500 professional certification opportunities, redeveloped more than 150,000 square feet of dilapidated property and successfully launched five new businesses in real estate development, construction, woodworking, agriculture, and artisan trades – industries based on local assets and having real viability in the Appalachian region. Coalfield Development operates as a family of five social enterprises. A social enterprise is a business that combines the compassion of the nonprofit sector with the efficiency of the for-profit sector.