By Steven Allen Adams, for The Intelligencer
Editor’s Note: This is the final column in a seven-part series about Leadership West Virginia, as well as the successes and challenges of W.Va. and different regions of the state.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — What began seven months ago with 56 leaders from across the Mountain State gathering in Huntington for the first time, wrapped up this week in Charleston as members of the 2023 class of Leadership West Virginia were honored for completing the program.
This year’s Leadership West Virginia tour of the state took class members back to college at Marshall University, experiencing the state’s outdoor tourism industry firsthand in Fayetteville, a close-up look at West Virginia’s growing manufacturing and renewable energy sectors in the Eastern Panhandle, a discussion of education challenges at West Virginia University, how to help those leaving the corrections system rejoin society in Wheeling and improving the state’s poor health outcomes at the Greenbrier Resort.
During all of these sessions, class members were introduced to leaders from each region, visited downtowns large and small, drove through parts of the state they’ve never been to before, and created strong bonds with their fellow classmates that will last lifetimes. Class members also received important training in leadership techniques, mindfulness, and effective communication.
The Leadership West Virginia class of 2023 was the largest class nominated for the program and considered one of the most diverse across different races, genders, demographics and professions. The diversity helped spur new friendships, difficult conversations and a class project focused on continuing the efforts that began in 2023 to recruit future class members from minority and marginalized groups who otherwise might not be nominated or apply.