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Appalachia Forward

A conference for local elected officials and development staff.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center
West Portsmouth, Ohio



If you missed any of the sessions or want to revisit a presentation, the conference recording is now available to view on-demand. Each session recording can be accessed via the schedule below by clicking on the session title. 


2022 Schedule

10:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks





Amista Lipot, Director, External Relations, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service


John Carey, Director, Governor’s Office of Appalachia

Lydia Mihalik, Director, Ohio Department of Development

10:15 a.m. PANEL  - Trails! Trails! Trails!  Development, Maintenance and Sustainability


Jeanette Wierzbicki, Executive Director, Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association


Jessie Powers, Executive Director, Bailey’s Trail System

Dylan Sayre, Trails Coordinator, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District

Tom Johnson, Mayor, Somerset, Ohio

11:00 a.m. PANEL – Big Visioning!  Downtown Revitalization Success


Kathy Zook, ARC program Manager, Eastgate Regional Councils of Governments


Misty Wells, Mayor, Village of Caldwell

Gwynn Stewart, Educator, Community Development OSU Extension

Luke Feeney, Mayor, City of Chillicothe

Lance Willard, City Manager, City of Columbiana

Kathy Zook, ARC Program Manager, Eastgate Regional Councils of Governments

12:00 p.m. Lunch Break 
12:30 p.m. PANEL – Tourism 


Chasity Schmelzenbach, Executive Director, Buckeye Hills Regional Council


Jessica Keeton, Economic Development Coordinator, Ohio Valley Regional Development Council – Tourism Impact Study

Kennedy Blakley, Communications Manager, Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association – World Heritage Sites

Karen Raymore, CDMA, Executive Director, Hocking Hills Tourism Association

1:15 p.m. Appalachian Community Grants Program – So What’s A Good Application?


John Hemmings, Executive Director, Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission


Julia Hinten, Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office of Appalachia

1:55 p.m. Conclusion/Wrap up




Local Development Districts