The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON - On Wednesday, Leadership West Virginia's 2019 class visited and learned about the Huntington community and will remain in the city until Friday, Sept. 20.

Leadership West Virginia is a program that aims to grow, engage and mobilize leaders to ignite a lifelong passion to move West Virginia forward, officials said.

Each year, more than 50 leaders from across the state of West Virginia are selected to participate in the eight-month program. Participants come from a variety of professional backgrounds and possess diverse talents.

The 28-year-old program has developed a statewide network of more than 1,400 alumni who are actively engaged in finding solutions that aid West Virginia's future growth and prosperity, according to a news release for the organization. For example, the Class of 2018 developed and promoted the #choosewv video ad campaign, which can be found at http://choosewv.com/.

This year's class consists of 55 members, including four local to the Huntington area: Andrew Dawson, market president at United Bank; Sean Farrell, principal engineer at Service Pump & Supply; Lyn O'Connell, associate director of addiction sciences at Marshall Health; and Chad Stutler, senior manager at Alcon.

O'Connell, who moved to the area in 2014, values the opportunity to explore the state and its resources.

"There are countless hidden and rather obvious gems in the state of West Virginia," O'Connell said. "Leadership West Virginia has helped highlight not only the strength in communities all over the state but the passion and creativity of the people."

Huntington is hosting the class's sixth session of the year and will focus on energy resources in West Virginia. Farrell acknowledges the importance of the class coming to Huntington.

"Each month we've had the opportunity to travel to different parts of the state where we have engaged with local leaders to discuss critical issues facing West Virginia," he said. "I am excited and honored to show off my hometown and all it has to offer to my classmates."

The class has also decided to direct charitable donations during their time in Huntington to Project Hope for Women & Children and Healthy Connections, based on their visit during the nationally recognized Recovery Month. While in town, the class will visit Special Metals, the Arthur Weisberg Applied Engineering Complex, J.H. Fletcher, Robert C. Byrd Institute and the Huntington West Edge.

They will also have the opportunity to hear from local leaders, including Mayor Steve Williams, Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce President Bill Bissett and local energy leaders such as Maribeth Anderson, 2009 program alumna and director of government relations at Antero.

The 2020 class, which will kick off in March 2020, is open for applications through Nov. 1. For more information, contact Leadership West Virginia executive director Pam Farris at pfarris@leadershipwv.org or call her at 304-342-1497, or contact Lyn O'Connell at oconnelll@marshall.edu.

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