Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation
It's apparent that Jeremy Morris has an appreciation for West Virginia's past and wants to help ensure it's preserved for future generations.
The Beckley native is the executive director of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation, an organization that works in conjunction with the National Park Service.
"When I am done here, I want Wheeling to be the coolest, hippest, healthiest, happiest place to live in West Virginia," Morris said. "Wheeling has such a rich history. It's where the state was founded and we have probably the best collection of architecture anywhere in the state. Learning new things about Wheeling and its impact on the state and the country is probably the most rewarding part of the job."
A graduate of West Virginia University, he later worked with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Project and WVU's Community Design Team, assisting small communities plan revitalization.
It was on a design team trip to Romania that he met his wife, Mihaela Szavo, who attended graduate school at WVU. They are expecting their first child.
Morris credits his mother with instilling his appreciation of culture and history. She was director of the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine for two decades.
"I spent the formative years of my life hanging around that place," he said, describing the mine as the most important interpretive heritage site in the state. "I didn't know it at the time, but I couldn't have received a better education in heritage development and tourism than what I received those days. I definitely learned to be engaged in my community from her as well."
In his spare time, Morris is involved with the Wheeling Symphony Society, Wine & Jazz Festival and the Wheeling Dog Park Association. The group is securing a location for the city's canines to play, including Lilly, a 6-year-old "wonderful little puppy" he rescued from an animal shelter.
He's also board president of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia and active with the Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission and Downtown Wheeling Inc.