ARC Announces Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows For 2021-2022

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

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 28, 2021—Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced 40 Fellows who will be participating in the third class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute. The class represents Appalachia’s 13 states and includes professionals who live and/or work in the Region in a variety of sectors including education, healthcare, economic development, tourism, and others.    

As a part of the Leadership Institute, each Fellow will participate in an extensive, nine-month series of skill-building seminars featuring regional experts, peer-to-peer learning, and case study analysis. The program begins virtually in October and culminates with the Class of 2021-2022’s graduation in July 2022.   

Participation in this program will empower Fellows to take action toward positively impacting the future of Appalachia with collaborative solutions to our Region’s greatest challenges. Fellows will learn to: 

  • Identify and implement best practices and strategies to inspire positive change in their communities; 
  • Build a robust network of leaders across the Region; 
  • Integrate community assets into long-lasting economic development strategies; and  
  • Appreciate the diversity and commonalties of the 13 states in the Appalachian Region.   

“I am honored to congratulate the 2021-2022 class of Appalachian Leadership Institute fellows. These phenomenal Appalachians are the driving force of change in their communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Their perseverance and dedication to the region is evident, and I have no doubt that this program will aid them in continuing to help their communities grow and thrive. The work of this class of fellows—and the ones who came before– gives me hope to the future of our Region and is a testament to all that can be accomplished when Appalachians work together.” 

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

 ”The Appalachian Leadership Institute offers an incredible opportunity for fellows to learn firsthand from community leaders and develop crucial skills,” said ARC States’ Co-Chair Governor Ralph Northam. “The Institute helps build strong, local leaders who will make their communities more resilient and ensure the economic vitality of the Appalachian Region for years to come.” 

Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows were chosen via a competitive application process. More than 115 qualified applications were received for this year’s program. The 2021-2022 Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows are:  


  • Hannah Arendsen, Economic Development Specialist, Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments, Huntsville 
  • Derrick Gilmore, Executive Vice President, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa 
  • Britton Lightsey, Community Relations Manager, Alabama Power, Winfield 
  • Gale Denise Satchel, Director, Colbert County Board of Education, Sheffield 


  • Marie T. Cochran, Lehman Brady Professor, Duke University/UNC Chapel Hill, Toccoa 
  • Patrick Larson, Senior Project Manager, Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Gainesville 
  • Lillie Read, Executive Director, Cartersville Downtown Development Authority, Cartersville 


  • Misha Curnutte, Administrative Dispatch Clerk, Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, Prestonburg 
  • Brian Gupton, CEO, Dataseam, Louisville 
  • John Jones, Medical Director, Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, Whick 
  • Jim Tom Trent, J.D., Business Development, Rajant Corporation, Morehead 


  • Leonard Jornlin, CEO & Energy Innovation Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Optimize Renewables, Frostburg 
  • Chandler Sagal, Director of Grants and Development, Allegany College of Maryland, Cumberland 


  • Meryl Fisackerly, Vice President of Economic Development, The Golden Triangle Development, Columbus 
  • Leon Hays, Executive Director, Prentiss County Development Association, Booneville 

New York  

  •  Tyre Bush, Director of Academic Pathways, SUNY Corning Community College – Academic and Workforce Development Center, Elmira 
  • Ashleigh Madison, Program Director, IncubatorWorks, Corning 
  • Tess McKinley, Executive Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County, Bath 

North Carolina  

  • DeWayne Barton, Founder & CEO, Hood Huggers International, Asheville 
  • Chuck Brown, Manager, NCWorks Career Center Burke, NC Department of Commerce, Morganton 
  • Leah Jones-Marcus, Impact Associate, Dogwood Health Trust, Asheville 
  • Gregory Minton, Dean of Public Safety, Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro 
  • Robyn Seamon, Owner/Consultant, Appalachian Healthcare Training & Consulting, Boone 


  • David Kilroy, Program Director, Kricker Innovation Hub, Shawnee State University, Portsmouth 
  • Meghan Reed, Director, Trumbull County Historical Society, Warren 


  • Athena Aardweg, Community Services Manager/Social Work Instructor, NEPA Alliance/Bloomsburg University, Benton 
  • Samantha Dye, Chief Development Officer, POWER, Pittsburgh 

South Carolina  

  • Trent Acker, Executive Director, WorkLink Workforce Development Board, Clemson 
  • Ken Roper, County Administrator, Pickens County, Sunset 


  • Audrey Depelteau, Director, East Tennessee State University Innovation Laboratory, Johnson City 
  • Adam Mansell, Director of Research, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Hilham 
  • Jeff Taylor, President/CEO, Greene County Partnership, Greeneville 


  • Brooke Love, CXO & Creative Developer, Inscape Creative, Co., Radford 
  • Matthew S. McGraw, Ph.D., Associate Vice President, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Clifton Forge 

West Virginia  

  • Amelia Courts, President/CEO, The Education Alliance, Charleston 
  • Jennifer Hause, Program Coordinator, WVU Energy Institute, Morgantown 
  • Jessica McDonald, Director of Operations, West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation, Morgantown 
  • David Michael, Executive Director/CEO, Habitat for Humanity of the Tri-State, Huntington 
  • Sara Payne Scarbro, Associate Vice President for External Engagement, Marshall University Research Corporation, Huntington 
  • Stacy Thomas, Community Coaching Program Associate, WV Community Development Hub, Richwood 

About the Appalachian Leadership Institute
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, LLC.  

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.