Appalachian Ohio State of the Region Conference
Tenth Annual Appalachian Ohio State of the Region Conference: Models for Revitalization
May 10, 2022
The annual Appalachian Ohio State of the Region Conference brings public officials, economic development experts, business and organizational leaders and others to Ohio University each year to discuss different issues related to economic growth in the Appalachian Ohio region.
The event is part of the Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center project.
Please note: All individuals entering Baker Center must adhere to all current university and community COVID requirements and policies. Please refer to the University’s COVID-19 Public Health Measures for most current guidance.
2022 Conference Schedule
|8:30 – 9:00 a.m.||Registration and Networking|
|9:00 – 9:15 a.m.||
|9:15 – 9:25 a.m.||Framework for the Day|
|9:25 – 9:35 a.m.||Investments in the Appalachian Region|
|9:35 – 10:20 a.m.||Collaboration Models|
|10:20 – 11:05 a.m.||Developing Vibrant Communities|
|11:05 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.||Affordable Housing|
|12:00 – 12:15 p.m.||
|12:15 – 12:55 p.m.||
|12:55 – 2:25 p.m.||Tourism in Rural Ohio|
|2:25 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.||
Closing and Key Takeaways
Julie is the Executive Director of Ross County Community Action Commission. She has been leading the organization since 2019. Her previous experience includes working for Ohio’s Area 20 Workforce Development Board, Pickaway Ross Career and Technology Center, and Pickaway County Job and Family Services. She currently serves as past-president of the South Central Ohio Human Resources Council. Julie is originally from the Cleveland area and now resides in Chillicothe with her two sons, Jackson, 18, and Conner, 14.
R. Hunt Brawley
Hunt Brawley is the Executive Director of the Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association (HCHTA) and Peoples Bank Theatre. Mr. Brawley served as Development Director and led the $7.5 million financing and restoration effort for the Peoples Bank Theatre (formerly the Hippodrome in 1919 and Colony Theatre in 1949). The Peoples Bank Theatre opened in January of 2016 after being closed since 1985. Before working on the theatre full time, Mr. Brawley incorporated or helped establish a number of community development projects in the Marietta area such as the U.S.D.A. nutrition program for the Marietta School District, the bike and pedestrian path, a local community kitchen, “Marietta Kitchen Creations”, and the after school education center, Ely Chapman Education Foundation, where he still participates as Board President. Before moving to Marietta, Mr. Brawley was an attorney in Baltimore practicing in the areas of real estate law, probate law and related litigation. He is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law and of Duke University where he majored in Political Science and played lacrosse, becoming captain and most valuable player in 1984. Mr. Brawley has had a lifelong interest in music, particularly jazz and blues. Regrettably, his drumset is used primarily as a clothes hanger. He is married to Sandra Kolankiewicz and has two children, daughter Maddie (24) and son Trevor (22).
Susan Brehm serves as the Regional Director of EDA’s Chicago Regional Office. She leads a team of economic development professionals in developing and managing the agency’s investments to support the creation of higher-skill, higher-wage jobs and to encourage private investment, innovation, entrepreneurship, and global competitiveness throughout Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, as well as Muscatine and Scott Counties in Iowa.
Susan joined EDA in 2013 as Regional Counsel. Prior to her federal service, she was an associate with Sidley Austin LLP, where she advised local governments and institutional nonprofits on land use and other real property matters and litigated complex class actions. She also had a robust pro bono practice, successfully representing asylees, veterans, and incarcerated individuals.
She earned a law degree at the University of California – Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in English literature at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. In the years between earning her degrees, Susan launched a small business providing editorial services to publishers.
Susan grew up on a small, diversified family farm in northeastern Iowa and currently lives in the heart of Chicago. These divergent life experiences give her a balanced perspective and keen insights into the unique economic development challenges facing the Midwest’s urban and rural communities.
John Carey was appointed Director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia by Governor Mike DeWine in February 2019. The Governor’s Office of Appalachia works to coordinate economic and community development initiatives to improve the lives of those living in the 32-county region. The Office also works with the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, D.C. and with various local entities to promote the region's assets and support initiatives that increase the economic activity of the region.
John Carey served as the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education from 2013 – 2018. As Chancellor he worked to align higher education programs with Ohio’s job creation and workforce needs. Carey also implemented initiatives that increased collaboration among colleges, universities, technical schools and local businesses and community organizations.
Prior to joining the Ohio Department of Higher Education, Carey was Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives at Shawnee State University. He led university workforce initiatives, working closely with local businesses. Carey served in the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate. He was the Mayor of Wellston for seven years.
A graduate of Ohio University, he lives in Wellston with his wife, Lynley, and two sons.
Ryan Collins lived a majority of his young life in Columbus before moving to Appalachian Ohio in 2006. It was in Appalachia that Collins would grow to become who he is today and truly fall in love with the region. While at Sheridan High School, Collins grew to enjoy Public Policy and governmental work. He was able to attend Buckeye Boy’s State in the summer of 2010 where he was the head of the Legislative Services Commission and wrote several pieces of mock legislation while within the program. This, along with his mother’s 30 plus years of nonprofit work, inspired him to attend Capital University. In May 2016 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
Fueled by a passion to help and serve others Collins started his career working with Godman Guild as the Administrator for their Summer Workforce Development program. Following the summer program with Godman Guild, Collins worked a few odd jobs before finding his way back to Workforce Development with Greenleaf Job Training Services. With Greenleaf, he worked as an Employment Specialist where he developed, trained, and supervised multiple teams of interns in Project SEARCH programs throughout Franklin and Licking counties. Outside of Project SEARCH, Collins worked with individuals with disabilities within the community to find, obtain, and maintain community employment.
In the summer of 2021 Collins found an opportunity to give back to the Appalachian region that had made him who he is and to help communities whose needs were further exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic. He jumped on this opportunity and joined Buckeye Hills Regional Council as Special Projects Manager - Broadband Coordinator. Ryan Collins lives in Athens, OH with his partner, Sierra, and their two cats (children) Midna and Saturn.
Jason Duff is the Founder of Small Nation which encompasses a group of companies, leaders and investors who develop places, spaces and dreams for small towns and small-town entrepreneurs across the county. Jason and his team at Small Nation have completely revitalized the town of Bellefontaine, Ohio. In 10 short years, they have turned a dying town and helped make it a Best-in-State destination.
Jason and his team can be credited with renovating more than 56 historic buildings and storefronts, starting or recruiting over 24 new businesses that have created over 190 new downtown jobs, renovating 34 new loft apartments, and they continue to lead and inspire in making towns and communities strong.
Jason serves on Small Business Advisory Council for US Chamber, is a regular contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur & Inc Magazine, has been recognized by the White House as Top 100 Entrepreneurs in 2013 and 2015, and was recently named Heritage Ohio’s 2019 Young Preservationist of the Year.
Social impact investor, environmentalist, and award-winning veteran journalist, Eli Flournoy teaches and consults on communications, non-extractive business models, and business ethics for nonprofit and for-profit organizations following a 24-year career at CNN.
As Executive Director of Sugarbush Valley Impact Investments, Eli supports social impact companies in the areas of renewable energy, zero waste, local foods, and rural broadband, and oversees a 400-acre agricultural and environmental incubator in Athens, Ohio. He is a founding member of the Impact Innovation Group council of advisors and serves on corporate boards for Ohio-based firms, including renewable energy fin-tech company New Resource Solutions, Shagbark Seed & Mill and an innovative shipping container logistics and transportation company called QuickLoadz. Eli’s sustainable economic development consulting includes work as an Executive in Residence for Ohio University’s Social Enterprise Ecosystem program. Eli also works on journalism business models as a Strategic Consultant for the Global Partnerships team at Mather Economics in Atlanta.
As a founding Director of the Sugar Bush Foundation, Eli facilitates collaboration between Ohio University and local communities through joint design innovation of sustainable environmental and socioeconomic development projects in Appalachian Ohio. Eli also serves on boards for Ohio University’s Department of Management and Social Media Analytics Research Team (SMART) Lab.
A social justice advocate, Eli serves on the Board of Inspiritus, a relief agency providing refugee, immigration, disaster relief, and child and family services in the Southeastern United States. Eli also serves on Church Council and the COVID Task Force for Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta.
Eli has an MBA from Ohio University and BA in Political Science from Indiana University.
Mike Jacoby is the president of Ohio Southeast Economic Development or Ohio Southeast (OhioSE). OhioSE is the JobsOhio regional non-profit affiliate organization charged with supporting and coordinating economic development across 25 counties in southern and eastern Ohio working closely with local economic development organizations. OhioSE is a subsidiary of the Appalachian Partnership Inc.
Before becoming president of OhioSE in April of 2018, he served as Director of Shale Energy and Vice President at OhioSE. Before that he was the executive director of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Port Authority.
Mike has over 25 years of economic development experience in Ohio at the local, regional and state level. Professional highlights previous jobs include the recruitment of Halliburton to Zanesville and the recruitment of Fanatics to Frazeysburg.
He is a Certified Economic Developer and certified Economic Development Finance Professional. He has a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration from Ohio University and a Bachelor of Arts in newspaper journalism from Kent State University. He and his family live north of Zanesville, Ohio.
G. Jason Jolley
G. Jason Jolley is a Professor of Rural Economic Development and MPA Director at the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. At Ohio University, he also serves as a Research Fellow in the Center for Entrepreneurship and directs Ohio University’s portion of the US Economic Development Administration University Center (joint with Bowling Green State University). His applied research portfolio includes serving as principal investigator on a subcontract with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth to support a Regional Innovation Cluster (RIC) project with the U.S. Small Business Administration. He also leads the Voinovich School’s portion of the Ohio Economic Development Institute, an Ohio Economic Development Association initiative, in partnership with JobsOhio and Ohio University’s Voinovich School, to provide state-level certification to Ohio economic development practitioners.
Dr. Jolley previously worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Senior Research Director for the Center for Competitive Economies, an applied economic development research center in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. At UNC, he led the Center’s research activities in economic development incentive policy evaluation and development, strategic planning, impact analysis, and industry cluster characterization to address issues of economic competitiveness. In addition to teaching MBA, BSBA, and undergraduate policy courses at UNC, Dr. Jolley’s adjunct teaching experience includes serving as a Teaching Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University where he taught MPA courses in economic development and public policy and as a Lecturer at Duke University in the Duke Center for International Development’s executive education program for visiting international government officials. In 2011, he was named a Faculty Fellow for NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues and in the same year received The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award from the Carolina Center for Public Service for his applied economic development research in Chatham County, NC.
Dr. Jolley’s research focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship, and tax policy. Secondary research interests include public-private partnerships, public engagement in decision-making, non-regulatory governance, and corporate social responsibility. Dr. Jolley has authored/coauthored over 25 scholarly articles and 50 monographs/professional reports. His research has been published or is forthcoming in Economic Development Quarterly; Business Strategy and the Environment; Review of Policy Research; Journal of Economic Development in Higher Education; Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy; State and Local Government Review; Journal of Public Affairs Education; Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting, & Financial Management; Municipal Finance Journal; and Economic Development Journal, among other scholarly outlets. Dr. Jolley writes a semi-regular column, “Practical Views from the Ivory Tower,” for State Tax Notes, a professional tax publication. He received a Ph.D. in public administration from North Carolina State University, where he specialized in economic development and research methods, an M.A. in political science from the University of Tennessee and an A.B. in economics from UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Jolley current serves as President of the Mid-Continent Regional Science Association and on the editorial boards of Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy and Coastal Business Journal.
Jessica Keeton is the Economic Development Coordinator for the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission. She has worked at OVRDC for twelve years and loves knowing she is part of the solution to flipping the narrative in Appalachian Ohio helping to make it a better place to live, work, and play. Jessica has a goal of visiting as many national parks as humanly possible in her lifetime, and to date some of her favorites are Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Rocky Mountain National Park, and closer to home, the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park which is soon to be an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jessica resides in rural Scioto County Ohio with her husband, two children and way too many chickens. She is a Shawnee State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Social Science.
Brent Lane is a Senior Executive in Residence at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University where he focuses on economic development that cultivates high growth firms with regional competitive advantages and community development that capitalizes distinctive cultural and natural heritage assets. In a variety of public and private sector roles he organizes and leads multi-faceted teams in the design and implementation of innovative but market-validated development. His approach yields effective strategies in diverse opportunities, with numerous successes in industrial and entrepreneurial growth, innovative infrastructure development, investment capital formation, and sustainable natural and cultural heritage utilization. Mr. Lane has master's degrees in business administration (MBA) and international science and technology policy (MA), and bachelor's degrees in both the physical and social sciences.
Director, External Relations and Strategic Partnerships for the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service and Executive Director, Mayors' Partnership for Progress
Amista Naylor Lipot has been with the Voinovich School at Ohio University since 2003. In addition to establishing and cultivating critical partnerships, her portfolio includes strategic communications, development, alumni relations, advocacy, and special projects on behalf of the Dean. As part of the School’s commitment to public service, she also serves as Executive Director for the Mayors' Partnership for Progress, a bipartisan coalition of Mayors and City Managers from eighteen southeast Ohio counties, representing nearly 120 communities. Before joining the Voinovich School, Amista managed administrators throughout Ohio for an international consulting and software company. Amista has a bachelor's degree in Interpersonal Communication from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Ohio University.
Kenneth Oehlers is in his 11th year as Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Southeast Ohio. Ken has a 16 year background in growing nonprofit organizations through partnerships within communities. Before coming to Habitat for Humanity, Ken worked in marketing/sales and helped clients gain market share through creative advertising and collaboration. Ken is just as excited about working with Habitat for Humanity as the day he started and looks forward to continuing to grow Habitat’s important mission in Southeast Ohio and across the world. Ken has a bachelor’s degree in Business/Organizational Leadership and lives in Athens, Ohio where he loves cheering for the Ohio University Bobcats along with his wife and their crazy dogs!
Mayor Steve Patterson
Mayor Steve Patterson is the full-time Mayor of Athens, Ohio and former Associate Professor of Psychology at Ohio University (18 years). Mayor Patterson served in the United States Air Force and the District of Columbia Air National Guard for over 20 years in both the Enlisted and Commissioned ranks and retired as a Major. He is the President of the Mayors Partnership for Progress, serves on the Board of Directors for the International Town-Gown Association (President-elect), National League of Cities, Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Athens County Economic Development Council, member of the Ohio Mayors Alliance, and Co-vice Chair of the National League of Cities Race, Equity and Leadership Council. Finally, the Mayor and his wife, Dr. Connie Patterson, are the proud parents of 10 year-old twin daughters, Adelia and Alana.
Kerry Pigman serves as the Executive Director for the Athens County Foundation, and is passionate about creating, cultivating, and sustaining opportunities for Appalachian Ohioans. Kerry is a former entrepreneur, having co-founded and led a venture backed education services company based in Nelsonville, OH for 18 years. Kerry has also served as Executive in Residence with the Ohio University Voinovich School’s Social Enterprise Ecosystem Project where she worked as a business advisor to social enterprises and was a founding member of the Impact Innovation Group (IIG)- a collaborative focused on creating funding opportunities to help launch, grow, and sustain businesses in Appalachian OH and WV. Kerry serves on the Appalachia Funders Network Steering Committee and is Co-Chair of the Place-Based Foundation group.
Tom Reid, President, and founder of Reid Consulting Group has nearly 40 years of experience in the technology sector. His experience is extensive, advising both public and private-industry clients on strategic planning, technology architecture, competitive bidding, and project management.
He is a passionate leader, with an acumen for bringing together high-performing, multidisciplinary teams to create customized strategies for clients. His work spans multiple industries including healthcare, telecommunications, major universities, government agencies and niche manufacturing. The wealth of industry experience and his highly collaborative approach makes the difference between short-term solutions and long-term impact for his clients.
Tom’s strategic mindset, insightfulness, technical depth, and analytical rigor are the foundation of his success. He prides himself on providing tangible value to each and every client. He is a recognized authority on broadband, his strong leadership and both industry and technical insight has resulted in nearly $200 million in funding for client projects. He speaks frequently to policymakers and influential audiences on infrastructure, GIS mapping, demographics, and funding challenges related to middle and last-mile broadband networks.
In addition to consulting for businesses and agencies nationwide, Tom is also the lead inventor and founder of SEED protocol, the Secure Exchange of Encrypted Data, and currently holds 4 issued US patents for this work. Prior to establishing Reid Consulting Group, he led IT operations at Ohio University as the Director of Computing and Network Services and was instrumental in the design and implementation of a fiber-based telephone network and wireless network spanning 110 buildings, and an integrated data network across six campuses.
Tom graduated magna cum laude, with highest honors from The Ohio State University honors college, and later received his Masters degree in Telecommunications and Computer Science from Ohio University. He serves as an Executive Consultant for the Northridge Group, providing business process strategy to Fortune 100 Companies, and is the principal research partner for the Connecting Appalachia Consortium.
Born and raised in Muskingum County, Andy graduated from Maysville High School in 1999 and then went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Geography from Ohio University in the fall of 2003. He became the first GIS employee of Muskingum County in the spring of 2004 and was appointed Administrator of GIS in 2005.
In February 2007 Andy was handed the role of Executive Director of the Muskingum County Planning Commission, since his appointment he has made the Planning Commission a public minded entity guiding residential development and planning within the unincorporated portion of the county.
After a reorganization of the Muskingum County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank) in 2019 the Board of Directors selected Andy to head the Land Bank as Executive Director. Since that time he has worked to make the Land Bank a more transparent organization, applying regulation and work flows to ensure that all transactions are handled professionally. In 2020 the Land Bank worked as a conduit to get the former Lear property on Linden Ave into the hands of the City of Zanesville for cleanup and redevelopment. The Land Bank’s sights have now turned toward two other major Brownfield sites plaguing the county: Mosaic Tile and the former Munson School.
Andy serves as 6th Ward Councilman for the City of Zanesville, is President Pro-tem, chairs the Public Service Committee, and serves on Ways Means and Public Safety committees as well. He is vice-chair of the Zanesville Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), and is a past board member of the Zanesville Downtown Association and the Muskingum County Community Foundation Council.
He and his wife (Elysa an interior designer) operate a real estate investment firm which focuses on rehabilitating residences within Zanesville. He resides with Elysa and his daughter Bri off of Norwood Blvd in Zanesville.
Tiffany Sokol is the Housing Director at Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) where she leads a team of professional staff in the development and implementation of housing programming, pursuit and administration of grant funding, financial management, and management of organizational communications and marketing. She has managed the rehabilitation of over 125 vacant residential units and 10 commercial units, the repair of over 965 occupied homes, and all 5 of YNDC's new construction projects. Tiffany holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Youngstown State University in Marketing Management and Advertising and Public Relations. She is an NCHEC and HUD-Certified Housing Counselor and National Development Council Housing Development Finance Professional. She is also a licensed Realtor with Branches Real Estate. Tiffany is an active church member and deeply invested in supporting the youth in her community. She lives on Youngstown's south side with her dog, Fiona.
Bryn Stepp is the Manager of Regional Affairs for Lt. Governor Jon Husted. Lt. Gov. Husted serves as the Director of InnovateOhio, leads Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative, and is the Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. Lt. Governor Husted has made workforce and economic development central to his work in the administration, focusing on programs that help equip Ohioans with the skills they need to be successful in today’s changing economy. As his regional liaison to 22 counties in the region and his Manager of Regional Affairs for the state of Ohio, Bryn acts as a liaison between the Lt. Governor’s Office and the 22 counties in her region, in addition to overseeing the regional representatives across the state. Bryn is a former teacher with 25 years of experience. She resides in Jackson with her husband and has 3 grown children.
Tiffany Swigert is the Executive Director for the Coshocton Port Authority, providing economic development support to the City of Coshocton and Coshocton County, Ohio. Prior to joining Coshocton’s Economic Development office in July 2017, she served as the Executive Director of the Coshocton County Regional Planning Commission and the Safety Coordinator for the Coshocton County Commissioners. Tiffany attended Zane State after High School and returned to college while working full-time and raising a family to obtain her Bachelor's in Business Administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University graduating in 2008.
Tiffany currently serves the President of the Ohio-Mid Eastern Governments Association, the President of the Coshocton Visitors Bureau, a member of the Columbus to Pittsburgh Corridor Committee, a member of the Ohio Economic Development Association Legislative and Policy Committee and is a graduate of the Appalachia Regional Commission’s Appalachia Leadership Institute.
Tiffany and her husband of nearly 22 years, Gene Swigert have two sons, Briar 19 and Camden 17 and their dog, Huck.
Peter Voderberg has spent his entire career navigating legal and policy issues. He currently serves as the Chief of BroadbandOhio, an office within the Development Services Agency dedicated to bringing high-speed internet service to every resident in the state. The office was created by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to be the access point for both industry and the public for coordinating the state’s broadband efforts, as reflected in the Ohio Broadband Strategy that was released on December 19, 2019.
Prior to coming to BroadbandOhio, he worked for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine as Assistant Policy Director for State Assets, where he oversaw numerous policy areas, including state contracting, taxation, transportation, and numerous technology projects. Prior to joining Governor DeWine’s office, Peter was the Managing Director for Regulations and Policy for DriveOhio, a statewide center for smart mobility established by Governor John Kasich in January 2018. While there, he provided leadership and insight on the impact new transportation technologies will have on state, local, and federal government policies.
Peter also previously served as an Assistant Policy Director and Associate Counsel in the Office of Governor Kasich; as a clerk for the Third District Court of Appeals; as a legislative liaison for the Ohio Department of Taxation; and as a legislative aide in the Ohio General Assembly.
He earned his J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law in 2012 and has a bachelor’s degree in English from The Ohio State University. He lives in Reynoldsburg with his wife and four children.
Katie joins the Steadfast City team as an Ohio-based project manager with an expertise in federal grant administration and urban revitalization. She works with the Steadfast City team to maximize funding opportunities and develop projects that incorporate the community, the local economy and the built environment.
Katie brings an equally detailed and multi-faceted approach to her work, amplifying the economic and community development team’s capacity to facilitate growth for its clients. She draws from a background in community development, zoning and project management, and from a passion for connecting people, places and processes. As a result, Katie’s work delivers purpose-built spaces that serve communities socially, architecturally and economically.
Mark L. Weinberg is a professor of Leadership and Public Service at Ohio University specializing in the areas of organizational strategy and public sector value creation. He is the current Dean of Ohio University’s George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service. In 2002, he was named the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Whisman Scholar and served in that capacity for three years. He currently is a member of the Ohio Innovation Funding Commission.
Mark received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland and his doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has taught a range of management courses including the capstone seminar in Public Administration, Public Budgeting, Financial Management, and Public Policy Analysis and published in these areas. He was on the faculty of the Ohio University Executive Leadership Institute from 1998 to 2010.
As Dean, Mark also provides strategic oversight of economic development at Ohio University, including a range of business technical assistance programs and equity funding for high-growth businesses in the Appalachian Region of Ohio.
Jeannette M. Wierzbicki
Ms. Jeannette M. Wierzbicki, P.E. is the Executive Director of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA), a Local Development District that serves ten counties in Eastern Appalachian Ohio: Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Muskingum, and Tuscarawas Counties. OMEGA’s mission is to provide a pathway to enhance community and economic growth in the region by connecting communities to resources. Ms. Wierzbicki plans, directs, and coordinates OMEGA’s programs and operations. OMEGA is also a designated Regional Transportation Planning Organization and is participating in a regional coordinated public transportation/human services transportation pilot program. She is a professional engineer, registered in the State of Ohio and has over 35 years of engineering experience in the field of public works and community and economic development. Ms. Wierzbicki is the current president of the Ohio Association of Regional Councils and current president of the Development District Association of Appalachia. She Wierzbicki has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University.
Donniella Winchell is currently the Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, chair of their Vintage Ohio wine festival and coordinator of the License to Steal national wine marketing conference. She is past chair of the WineAmerica State Advisory Committee and is active in Winegrape Growers of America, the Ohio Travel Association and serves on several other state and national committees. She is a member of the Ohio Agriculture and Ohio Wines Halls of Fame, a Rotary Harris Fellow, a member of the Knights of the Vine and the recipient of the Monteith Wine Award. In 2020, she was named an industry influential by Wine Busines Magazine and in 2021 was award the Rich Smith Award of Excellence in American Wine. In 2022 the Wine Industry Network named her one of the industry’s ten most inspiring people. She has contributed to several national wine publications, writes weekly wine columns for a dozen Ohio print and online publications, authors a marketing e-letter called Tuesday Tidbits, speaks at numerous wine and tourism conference. She is an Adjunct Professor at Kent Ashtabula teaching wine related courses. Winchell is a graduate of Allegheny College with a BA in history and taught in Ohio public schools before retiring to raise a family. She has been Executive Director of Ohio Wines for over 40 years.
Kathy Zook has worked in public service for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments for over two decades serving as the ARC Program Manager for the last 13 years. She is a founding member and acting Secretary of Ohio Rural Development Alliance (ORDA) and has been appointed to the Development Districts Association of Appalachia (DDAA) Board in 2022. She is a graduate of the University of Akron and lives in Cortland, Ohio. As the ARC Program Manager, Kathy works with communities in her 3-county district to identify and prioritize projects to utilize Federal and State Appalachian funding to make investments to support economic and community development, critical infrastructure, workforce development, job training, and improved access to health care.
About the EDA University Center
Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service was first established as an U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center in 1996. The Voinovich School University Center is a joint project with Bowling Green State University which collectively serves 59 rural Ohio counties: 32 Appalachian counties and 27 counties in northwestern Ohio.
EDA University Centers are a partnership of the federal government and academia that makes the varied and vast resources of universities available to the economic development community.
The ongoing support received through the EDA assists the Voinovich School in providing direct business assistance services, applied research initiatives and an annual State of the Region Conference. The overall result is the positioning of the region for economic growth.