Appalachian Regional Commission Names Mary Anne Holbrook as Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellow

Mary Anne Holbrook to Represent Virginia in Intensive Regional Leadership Development Program

Abingdon, Virginia (October 15, 2019) – The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) named Mary Anne Holbrook to participate in the inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute.

Mary Anne Holbrook, director of community relations at United Way of Southwest Virginia, will serve as a fellow and participate in an extensive nine-month program of skill-building seminars, best practice reviews, field visits, mentoring and networking.

The curriculum will be anchored by six multi-day seminars around the region with the first sessions taking place in Morehead, Kentucky on October 21-24, 2019. Subsequent training sessions will be held in Dalton, Georgia; Starkville, Mississippi; Beckley, West Virginia; Boone, North Carolina; Jamestown, New York; followed by a capstone graduation in Washington, DC in July, 2020.

As part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, Holbrook will work directly with public policy, community development, education, investment, and other professionals who live and/or work in the region.

United Way of Southwest Virginia president and ceo, Travis Staton, said, “I believe Mary Anne is a perfect fit for the Institute because of her passion for Southwest Virginia. Mary Anne plays a critical role in our efforts to convene cross-sector partners to address the most complex issues in our region.”

Holbrook’s skills and experience will assist her as she and other fellows of the Appalachian Leadership Institute complete tasks that include designing effective economic development project proposals, integrating community assets into long-lasting economic development strategies, and apply expanded leadership skills to create strong coalitions.

Holbrook was selected via a competitive application process. ARC received 180 applications for the 2019-2020 Appalachian Leadership Institute class, resulting in an acceptance rate of 22 percent.

Holbrook stated, “I am honored to have been selected as a fellow of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, where I will assist in creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing Southwest Virginia. I am pleased to be a voice for innovating positive, lasting social change in the region.”

Upon completion of the program, United Way of Southwest Virginia will automatically become part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute Network, a peer-to-peer group committed to Appalachia’s future.


United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.  Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change.  With a footprint that covers nearly 20% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford.


The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

The Appalachian Leadership Institute is a comprehensive regional leadership training program developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; The Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy; Tuskegee University; and Collective Impact. More information about the Appalachian Leadership Institute is available at