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Sarah Smith

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Associate VP for State and Corporate Relations,
West Virginia University
Charleston, 33

Glenville native Sarah Smith has worn several hats during her career, but at the heart of them all are the skills she works best: being an advocate, knowing how to listen and working creatively to solve problems.

After graduating from the West Virginia University College of Law in 2004, Smith worked for then-Secretary of State Joe Manchin, and when he moved up to the Governor's Office, she did too.

"I was in the legislative affairs office there and did a little bit of everything," she said. "When I left just shy of six years later, I was deputy legislative director, which is a liaison between the executive and legislative branches."

Smith then spent nearly four years doing governmental affairs in West Virginia for Alpha Natural Resources, and she was hired for her current position in November.

"It's exciting to get to work for your alma mater, and I'm very new to it right now, but on the one hand, yes, there are some things that are similar and there are things at the core that are the same," Smith said. "The biggest difference between what I did at Alpha and what I do at WVU is it's a broader scope and broader reaching as far as state affairs."

Smith says she's excited to be able to be an advocate for the university she loves as it pushes its mission forward.

"It's such a huge vehicle for so many things in our state, and I'm just really proud to do my part," she said.

And she does her part throughout the community in several ways as well. She serves on the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors along with several chamber committees, and she also is a member of the board for Leadership West Virginia along with the Vision Shared board.

Smith says she's really into reading, running and being outside with her dog, Annie, and she likes to travel anywhere she can.

"You want to work hard and do your best and you hope people are paying attention to that, and hopefully, that it pays off in the end," she said. "I grew up with a great set of parents who always told me I could do whatever I wanted and always had such a strong family ... so I always knew it was okay to take leaps and try things."