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Kvach, UNA’s Padgett among Appalachian leadership grads

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three community leaders from Alabama are among 39 fellows to graduate recently from the Appalachian Leadership Institute, a leadership and economic development program sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Dr. John Kvach, executive director of the Singing River Trail; Dr. Gary Padgett, professor of Education at the University of North Alabama and director of the South Eastern Ecoliteracy Project; and Jenny Stubbs, publisher and author of “My Wetumpka: A Picture Book Love Story” and founding director of Main Street Wetumpka, will all three now join the growing Appalachian Leadership Institute Alumni Network.

With each graduating class, the network will continue to grow, connect leaders, and facilitate learning and idea exchange across the Appalachian states. The leadership graduates will serve their communities through civil service, finance, healthcare, recovery, tourism, and a variety of other public and private sectors.

The institute is a comprehensive leadership and economic development training opportunity for people who live and/or work in one of the 13 Appalachian states, and are passionate about helping their communities thrive.

The nine-month long program consists of seminars with regional experts, peer-to-peer learning, best practices reviews, and case study analysis.

It also includes field visits during six in-person sessions across the Appalachian Region, followed by a capstone graduation event in Washington, D.C.

All aspects of the curriculum were designed to equip the Institute’s fellows with the knowledge and network needed to create positive change in their communities.

The program will let these leaders continue connecting with, and learning from, other leaders across Appalachia.

“My enthusiastic congratulations to the 2023 class of Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “I’m proud of the work this industrious group of changemakers has accomplished over the last nine months as they dedicated themselves to sharing and building the knowledge needed to create long-lasting impacts on the region.

“The partnerships they built during their time at the Appalachian Leadership Institute will help bolster the strength and vitality of the region long after graduation, and I can’t wait to see the further impacts they will have as they continue their leadership roles across our 13 states.”

Appalachian Leadership Institute is one of four academies offered by the ARC including Appalachian Collegiate Research Initiative, Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy, and Appalachian STEM Academy.

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