Appalachian Regional Commission Announces Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows for 2019–2020

Inaugural Class Includes 40 Fellows Representing Variety of Disciplines and Backgrounds from 13 Appalachian States

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 25, 2019—Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced 40 Fellows who will be participating in the inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute. The class draws on each one of Appalachia’s 13 states, and includes public policy, community development, education, investment, and other professionals who live and/or work in the Region.

“I congratulate the participants in this inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute for being selected through a very competitive process. Our hope is that this program will help them further develop their abilities in the areas of leadership and problem solving, allowing them to help bring advancement, growth, and greater prosperity to their communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “Leadership is the essential foundation on which all of our collective efforts to enhance the Region rest. I am excited by the future opportunities our Region will create, and am confident that these individuals will discover and capitalize on them.”

The 2019–2020 Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows include:

  • Lisa Bright, CEO, Will Bright Foundation, Fayette, AL;
  • Steven Puckett, Business & Community Outreach Director, University of North Alabama, Florence, AL;
  • Bevin Tomlin, Community Development Manager, Alabama Power Company, Birmingham, AL;
  • Daniel Martin, Director of Economic Development, Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Gainesville, GA;
  • Elizabeth Wells, ReDev Workshop, Rossville, GA;
  • Luke Glaser, Teacher, Hazard High School, Hazard, KY;
  • Jessie Hunt, Financial Project Manager, Fahe, Berea, KY;
  • Colby Kirk, Executive Director, One Harlan County, Harlan, KY;
  • Laura White-Brown, Mayor, Morehead, KY;
  • Andrew Sargent, Senior Business Development Representative for Western Region, Maryland Department of Commerce, Baltimore, MD;
  • Jennifer Walsh, Executive Director, The Greater Cumberland Committee, Frostburg, MD;
  • Gregory Alston, Field Representative & General Counsel, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Oxford, MS;
  • Albine Bennett, Communications Director, CREATE Foundation, Tupelo, MS;
  • GT McCullough, Project Manager, The Alliance, Corinth, MS;
  • Willard Caudill, Youth Programs Director, Steuben County Youth Bureau, Bath, NY;
  • Beau Harbin, Legislator, Cortland County Legislature, Cortland, NY;
  • Terry Bellamy, Director of Community & Economic Development, Madison County, Marshall, NC;
  • Jacqueline Gottlieb, President & CEO, Hinton Rural Life Center, Hayesville, NC;
  • Bronwyn Lucas, Director of Leadership, NC Rural Center, Raleigh, NC;
  • Chris Robinson, Vice President, Workforce Development & Community Education, Wilkes Community College, West Jefferson, NC;
  • Erin Shotte, Community & Economic Development Administrator, Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Hickory, NC;
  • Brennan Dudley, Village Administrator, Byesville, OH;
  • Leanne Johnson, VP & Banking Center Manager of Business Development, WesBanco Bank, Portsmouth, OH;
  • Tiffany Swigert, Executive Director, Coshocton Port Authority, Coshocton, OH;
  • Anthony Armaly, Global Partnerships Manager, US Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA;
  • Joshua Miller, Assistant Vice President & Business Development Officer, Somerset Trust Company, Somerset, PA;
  • Melissa Tabb, Program Analyst, Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Harrisburg, PA;
  • Jamie Chrisman Low, Statewide Recovery Community Network Weaver, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) Piedmont, Rock Hill, SC;
  • A. Ray Farley, Executive Director, Alliance Pickens, Central, SC;
  • Chuck Hammonds, Assistant Executive Director, Southeast Tennessee Development District, Chattanooga, TN;
  • Alicia Phelps, Executive Director, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, Johnson City, TN;
  • Denny Wayne Robinson, County Executive, White County, Sparta, TN;
  • Jesse Turner, Mayor, Loretto, TN;
  • Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations, United Way of Southwest Virginia, Abingdon, VA;
  • Lydeana Martin, Community & Economic Development Director, Floyd County, Floyd, VA;
  • Josh Sawyers, Innovation Center Manager, The University of Virginia at Wise, Wise, VA;
  • Charles Slemp, Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Wise, VA;
  • Tricia Ball, Associate Director, Marshall University Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (iCenter), Huntington, WV;
  • Denise Burgess, Senior Educator, Charleston Area Medical Center, Charleston, WV;
  • Jenny Totten, Community Development Coordinator, WV Development Hub, Charleston, WV.

Each Fellow will participate in the Appalachian Leadership Institute, an extensive nine-month program focusing on skill-building seminars, best practice reviews, field visits, mentoring, and networking.  The curriculum will be anchored by six multi-day seminars around the region, followed by a capstone graduation in Washington, DC. The first session will take place in Morehead, Kentucky, October 21–24, 2019.

As part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, participating Fellows will learn how to:

  • Design effective economic development project proposals
  • Integrate community assets into long-lasting economic development strategies
  • Identify resources available to spur economic development
  • Locate and access investment capital from a variety of public and private sources
  • Prepare competitive applications for public grant opportunities
  • Use expanded leadership skills to create strong coalitions

Upon completion of the program, Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows will automatically become part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute Network, a peer-to-peer working group committed to Appalachia’s future.

Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows are chosen via a competitive application process. ARC received 180 applications for the 2019–2020 Appalachian Leadership Institute class, resulting in an acceptance rate of 22 percent. Applications for the 2020–2021 class will open in March, 2020.

The Appalachian Leadership Institute is a comprehensive regional leadership training program developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; The Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy; Tuskegee University; and Collective Impact. More information about the Appalachian Leadership Institute is available at

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.