Gayle Conelly Manchin was sworn in as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s thirteenth federal co-chair on May 6, 2021, becoming the first ARC federal co-chair from West Virginia. Nominated by President Biden, Manchin works directly with ARC’s 13 member governors, their state alternates and program managers, and a network of local development districts to continue to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth throughout Appalachia. An alumna of West Virginia University, Manchin worked as an educator in Marion County Schools, served on the faculty of Fairmont State University, and was the director of the university’s first Community Service Learning Program. She directed the AmeriCorps Promise Fellows in West Virginia between 2000-2004 and implemented a statewide initiative, WV Partnerships to Assure Student Success. Manchin previously served as West Virginia’s First Lady between 2005-2010 and was appointed to serve as a member of the State Board of Education, serving her last two years as president. She was the chair of the Board for Reconnecting McDowell, Inc., an AFT initiative serving rural West Virginia, is a past president of the Vandalia Rotary Club of Charleston, and was an emeritus member of The Education Alliance. She also served as cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Office of Education and the Arts.
Bettina Jones is a Program Analyst at the Appalachia Regional Commission, where she formerly managed infrastructure grants and now manages READY Appalachia, ARC’s new community capacity building initiative. In that role, she works on supporting Appalachian nonprofits, local governments, local development districts (LDDs), and foundations to develop and sustain their organizations, manage federal grants, and more effectively serve their constituents and clients.
Kawana McCary is Executive Director of East Central Planning and Development District (ECPDD) in Newton, Mississippi. ECPDD is a rural district that serves nine counties, thirty-one towns and one Indian tribe. Kawana has been employed at the district since 1991 and has served in various capacities as Project Developer, Loan Officer, Administrative Assistant and Assistant Director before she was appointed to her current position of Executive Director. Kawana is originally from Meridian, Mississippi where she still lives with her husband, three children and father-in-law. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration from Mississippi State University. Kawana spends her free time traveling with family and friends, watching local high school and college ballgames and following her son’s travel ball team.
Sister Robbie Pentecost, Executive Director of the New Opportunity School for Women, has served the Appalachian region for almost three decades, providing tools and resources to empower women, children and their communities. Prior to joining the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) staff in 2017, she served as a major gifts officer with the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP). Sister Robbie is also a Fellow with the Center for Women, Faith and Leadership, a program of the Institute for Global Engagement and has served on many national and international Boards. She holds a Finance and Accounting degree from Missouri State University and an MBA from St. Louis University.
Ann Quillen has returned as the Executive Director of the OVHC after faithfully serving previously in the same role from 2008-2015. During her previous tenure leading the Jefferson Co. 4th St. Health Center, new programs, patients served, prescriptions filled, and providers participating increased significantly. Her dedicated efforts were recognized within the community and by the state Association of Free Clinics. Ann has called the Ohio Valley home for over 26 years and has always had a passion for community health/nursing. In her 33 years as a nurse, she has served in a variety of different roles to make a positive difference in the lives of others – always treating everyone with dignity and respect. Besides excelling in community nursing roles, Ann has been married for 36 years to her husband, Rev. Dr. Clint Quillen, is a dedicated mother to three grown sons and their wives, and cherishes her role as a beloved “Mimi” to five grandchildren under the age of three.
Building Regional Leaders and Networks
ARC Program Manager Jessica Mosley was joined by three Appalachian Leadership Institute alumni to discuss the importance of building regional, cross-state connections. After four graduating classes, the ALI alumni network is regularly connecting leaders from across Appalachia and helping them think more regionally. ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin then closed out the program by announcing the 2023-2024 ALI fellows, who will begin connecting next month!
Jessica Mosley is the Academies & Institutes Program Manager at the Appalachian Regional Commission. Prior to joining ARC in 2018, she directed education and professional development programming for the Electronic Transactions Association, the American Fisheries Society, the United Fresh Produce Association, and the American Meat Institute. Mosley has a BA in Religion from Harding University and a MA in History from George Mason University. She is an ESPN Ultimate Couch Potato Champion and has a cockapoo named Knox.
Baylen Campbell (he/him/his) is Invest Appalachia’s Director of Community Impact. Based in Hazard, Kentucky, Baylen brings experience working as an economic development & social impact practitioner. He has previous experience working at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, InVision Hazard, Appalachians for Appalachia, Unbound Philanthropy, Amnesty International USA, & Independent Diplomat. He holds a BA in International Affairs from John Cabot University in Rome, Italy and an MSc in Development Practice from Trinity College Dublin/University College Dublin. He currently serves on the Boards of the Appalachian Impact Fund, Commonwealth Alliance Donor Table, Lige Clarke Liberation Fund & Appalachian Arts Alliance.
Kim Davis is the Executive Director of Friends of Southwest Virginia, Southwest Virginia Heritage Cultural Heritage Foundation, and ‘Round the Mountain Artisan Network. A native of Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee, Kim is a seasoned marketing and tourism professional with over 15 years of experience in nonprofit, communications, event management, and marketing. As executive director, Kim leads the Friends of Southwest Virginia team to work with partners throughout the region to help advance community development and tourism initiatives. Kim holds a BS in Communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and an MBA from Louisiana State University in Shreveport.
Ron Scott Jr. was born in Wheeling WV and has been a lifelong resident. He graduated from Wheeling Park High School. Upon graduation, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta GA; but ended up graduating from West Liberty University. He spent 13 years as a counselor in the field of Addictions and work at several area agencies such as Northwood Health Systems, Lee Day Report Center, Quest Recovery Services, Juvenile Mediation, Wheeling Park High School, and Youth Services Systems. His love for community, justice, and creativity has led him to several positions like former President and Vice President of the Upper Ohio Valley NAACP, former Vice Chairman of the Wheeling Human Rights Commission, founder of the Ohio Valley African American Students Association, member of Undependent Films, and board member of the Independent Theater Collective. In the position of Program Director of Cultural Diversity & Community Outreach, I get the opportunity to do many different things. I get to do speaking engagement and presentations to conduct awareness in the areas of Cultural Diversity, Acceptance, and the rising prevalence of Rape Culture. I also get to have events that blend cultures, and place people in environments that they aren’t used to with people that have more in common with than expected. A few Examples have been Mini-Con, Beyond The Closet, Hip-Hop: A Black Tie Affair, and The Wyleane Project. I feel that the goals and objectives of advocating for people who are facing discrimination and prejudice, conducting Cultural Awareness Workshops, providing culturally specific education/information/referrals, and provide community outreach in Ohio Valley; are lofty ones, but with the history of the YWCA and the competence of the staff with whom I’ll be working, I should be just fine.