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Small Communities,
BIG Solutions

The Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development are teaming up once again to shine a spotlight on southern West Virginia by hosting the Small Communities, Big Solutions Conference.

2020 Virtual 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 also marks the first year of the #WVSolutions Seekers Student Leadership Conference for juniors, seniors and college and training students on November 20, 2020.

Dates and Times

Mon, Nov 16, 2020, 9:00 AM – Fri, Nov 20, 2020, 6:00 PM EST


Online Event

Current Small Communities, BIG Solutions 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. Top 20 COVID-19 Lessons

  • 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, President, RCBI
  • Rev. Matthew Watts, Executive Director, HOPE CDC

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

  • Ursulette Huntley, Executive Director, Unlimited Future
  • Chris Yeager, Owner, Appalachian Cannabis (invited)
  • 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

  • Emily Birckhead, Executive Director, WV Alliance of Recovery Residences
  • Debra Davis, Executive Director, One Voice
  • Ashley Shaw, Director, Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment (CORE), Marshall Health
  • 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 (Boone and Lincoln counties)
  • 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, MSW, LCSW, 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. Speaker TBD

9:45 a.m. Higher Education Presidents

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

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
  • Moderator: 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, Tourism (invited)

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. Tourism and Outdoor Business Opportunities

  • 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


Friday, November 20: #WVSolutions Seekers Student Leadership Conference – open to high school juniors and seniors as well as college and training students

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

3:30 p.m. Closing Remarks & Giveaways