10 West Virginians participate in new leadership program for community economic development

West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WV Community Development Hub is announcing the inaugural cohort for the advanced-level track of the Community Coaching Fellowship program. Ten people from across the state will participate in this leadership development initiative to catalyze growth and make a positive difference in West Virginia communities.

Fellows will incubate a community or economic development-focused project as part of this intensive 10-month fellowship. With support from professional coaches and peers, fellows will develop an action plan to advance project work including identifying funding sources, challenges, and partnerships. They will also increase their knowledge of the community development field and build up their personal networks.

One of the fellows is Amy Loomis, who is the vice president of Revitalization Services with the Morgantown Area Partnership. She said the 10-month program is already underway.

Amy Loomis

“We had a kickoff meeting in which we met the program organizers and the rest of the cohort,” Loomis said. “The cohort is from a lot of great movers and shakers, a lot of great community development organizations around the state. We discussed what we can anticipate from the program ahead and we also did some leadership assessments and had discussions around leadership.”

Although things are just getting started, Loomis said she is “super excited”.

The opportunity to learn from the hub and to further develop her skills, while learning from other cohorts means a lot to her.

“My interest is in community building and mixing my communities that are better placed, so this is the one small step of my dream to get better at that, to improve at that and to make a difference in my community,” Loomis said.

She said everyone has met virtually and they have met with their “fellowship coach”.

Each person will work with their coach to create a specific community project for the duration of the program, Loomis said.

“I’m hoping my project is going to be something alongside the Morgantown Area Partnership,” she said. “Right now, we are working in the Sunnyside neighborhood to help them with their planning initiatives. As well, there are initiatives within the partnership to explore diversity, equity and inclusion. And, I think it’s really important, at this time, to make sure we’re doing good work to see who’s not at the table and why.”

Loomis said she’s “really honored” to have been selected for this program. She said everyone she has met from program leaders to her fellow cohorts has been amazing and she looks forward to working with them.

“They’re all great movers and shakers, so I’m excited to be learning from them,” she said.

The fellowship cohort includes: 

  • Kelley Burd-Huss (Kingwood, W.Va.), Community Development Coordinator, Preston Trail Towns
  • Reed Byers (Parkersburg, W.Va.), Change Agent and Creator, How to Save a Life program at GiveMore Connections
  • Candice Helms (Hinton, W.Va.), Preserve WV AmeriCorps, Hinton Historic Landmarks Commission at the City of Hinton
  • Sherri L. James (Clarksburg, W.Va.), Program Director, Kelly Miller Community Center and Community Engagement Coordinator, Monticello Ongoing Revitalization Effort
  • Jamila Jones-Fleet (Martinsburg, W.Va.), Founder and President, Innovative Community Solutions
  • Amy Loomis, MPA (Morgantown, W.Va.), Vice President of Revitalization Services, Morgantown Area Partnership
  • Olivia Morris (Oak Hill, W.Va.), Region 1 Manager, Generation West Virginia
  • Mackenzie New-Walker (Matewan, W.Va.), Executive Director, WV Mine Wars Museum
  • Caroline Smith (Beckley, W.Va.), Program Director, Stewards Individual Placements
  • Ray Smith (Jane Lew, W.Va.), Executive Director, Lewis County Chamber of Commerce

You can learn more about the fellows and the Community Coaching Fellowship Program here.

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