2022 Power of Performance awards presented at annual conference

Seven recipients were recently honored with Power of Performance Awards for their efforts to change lives, put people to work or revitalize their communities. The awards were presented during the 2021 “Small Communities, BIG Solutions” conference, which showcased West Virginia successes and highlighted what is working across the Mountain State’s 21 most Southern counties.

The conference, which is organized by the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, housed in the Marshall University Research Corporation, West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development, took place on a virtual platform Nov. 15-18.

Changing lives

Joni Cantrell, founder/executive director of Arts in Action, was awarded in the “Changing Lives” category for her work in cultivating relationships with children through the power of the arts. Under Cantrell’s direction, Arts in Action has grown into a multi-faceted organization offering courses in all genres of dance, music and visual arts, serving an average of 500 students per year.

Jobs & Hope WV Transition Agents were also awarded in the “Changing Lives” category for their service in assisting people in recovery as they prepare for potential educational and/or career opportunities. Transition Agents not only conduct needs assessments and develop personalized plans for each program participant, but also develop and maintain collaborative relationships with all agency partners to assist each participant in overcoming barriers in the development of education and employment goals that match the participant’s skills, interests and experience.

Putting people to work

Marshall CORE, an initiative of Marshall Health, truly represents the “Putting People to Work” category. CORE provides the resources and support necessary to help individuals in recovery re-enter the workforce. CORE’s goal is to create a ready workforce within its 12-county region of southwestern West Virginia. Since CORE has begun, the initiative has assisted more than 220 people in recovery in gaining employment.

Terri Giles received the “Putting People to Work” category for her service in launching and developing Appalachian Headwaters programs. Appalachian Headwaters is a non-profit based in Lewisburg, West Virginia, with a mission to invest in Appalachia’s future. In addition to her recent service, Giles worked for more than 30 years in public service, creating job sustainability across West Virginia.

Revitalizing communities

Errol Randle, a retired 25-year veteran of the Charleston, West Virginia, Police Department, was awarded in the “Revitalizing Communities” category for his efforts developing strategies and initiatives that promote successful outcomes for incarcerated individuals and/or people in long-term recovery. In addition, Randle has been able to train officers and community members in emotional intelligence, teaching individuals to understand, use and manage emotions in a positive way.

Jason Grubb received the award (posthumously) in the “Revitalizing Communities” category for his service to his hometown of Welch, West Virginia. Grubb was able to secure grant aid and other funds, in excess of $1 million for Welch, leading to city’s ability to maintain a high level of service during the COVID-19 pandemic. His vision for Welch not only focused on capitalizing on the current services, but also growing the city’s tourism, providing new experiences to attract individuals to visit.

2022 Small Communities, BIG Solutions Advocate

The final award was presented to Dr. Drema Mace Hill, who is the epitome of “Small Communities, BIG Solutions.” Hill has spent much of her professional career serving West Virginians in the health sector. Currently serving as vice president for community engagement and development at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Hill works at the intersection of higher education, community workforce development, community engagement and partnerships to guide the creation, implementation and evaluation of integrated strategies that generate health improvements. In her time with WVSOM, Hill has replicated 18 opioid prevention and awareness toolkits in West Virginia, created an international research project in partnership with Kilimanjaro Medical University in Tanzania and helped bring millions of dollars in funding to WVSOM.

Sara Payne Scarbro, the associate vice president of external engagement for the Marshall University Research Corporation, is the lead planner of the conference.

“Congratulations to our 2022 POWER of Performance awardees and to Dr. Hill for being selected as our 2022 Small Communities, BIG Solutions Advocate,” Scarbro said. “These awards are extremely competitive and our awards committee likes to highlight the true change agents who are really making a positive difference in the Mountain State. ‘Small Communities, BIG Solutions’ is all about education and inspiration – our programming educates us on successful projects, while our award winners inspire us to do, serve and love more.”

For more information on the annual “Small Communities, BIG Solutions” conference, visit www.marshall.edu/aedswv/.