The Appalachian Regional Commission has named four Virginians to the inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, the organization’s intensive, multistate leadership development program.

Joining 37 other members from 12 other states will be:

  • Mary Anne Holbrook, director of community relations for the United Way of Southwest Virginia
  • Lydeana Martin, community and economic development director, Floyd County
  • Josh Sawyers, innovation center manager at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
  • Charles H. “Chuck” Slemp III, commonwealth’s attorney, Wise County and Norton

In a statement released Thursday, United Way of Southwest Virginia President and CEO Travis Staton congratulated Holbrook, saying, “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.”

The nine-month program’s curriculum will be anchored by six multiday sessions held around the Appalachian region, beginning in Morehead, Kentucky, on Oct. 21-24, and culminating in a July graduation event in Washington, D.C. The program’s curriculum was developed by the commission in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy; Tuskegee University; and Collective Impact.

The annual program’s 40 fellows will focus on developing skills such as designing effective economic development proposals; integrating community assets into long-lasting economic development strategies; learning how to locate and access investment capital from a variety of public and private sources; learning how to prepare competitive grant applications; and creating strong community coalitions.

By Richard Foster

Click here to read the original article in Virginia Business.