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Community Leadership Academy


WVU Extension Service has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Community Leadership Academy. This decision was made to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19 and to protect participants across the state. As we navigate these challenges, we hope that you, your families, and your communities are focusing on self-care and staying healthy.

If you have registered for the conference, you will receive a full refund. If you have booked a room at the Waterfront Hotel or the Hampton Inn, please remember to cancel those reservations to avoid charges/fees. 

The 2020 conference schedule included an exciting slate of presenters on leadership topics relating to innovation and entrepreneurship, community health, and emerging leadership. The Community Leadership Academy Planning Committee is working to coordinate a series of webinars in April and May taught by presenters that were scheduled to speak at the 2020 CLA conference. Please watch for more information on this upcoming series!

About the Academy

The Community Leadership Academy (CLA) helps emerging and established leaders develop their leadership skills.

The academy provides leaders with fundamental knowledge in public organizations and financial management. The covered topics will help enhance personal leadership skills and provide a basic understanding of current and complex issues affecting communities.

The academy unites community leaders, elected officials, economic developers, Chambers of Commerce, business owners and civic-minded residents of West Virginia and nearby states.

The CLA was founded by WVU Extension Service Community Resources and Economic Development unit, with the help of Extension partners.

CLA Mission

CLA provides leadership development opportunities focused on the knowledge, collaboration and connections that empower communities to lead West Virginia into the future.

CLA Vision

To be West Virginia’s premiere community leadership development program.

CLA Shared Values

  • Partnerships
  • Collaboration
  • Excellence/Quality
  • Strategic Relationships
  • Networking
  • Creativity


  1. Help emerging and established leaders understand, use and develop their community assets effectively.
  2. Support robust community engagement and further community growth.
  3. Provide local government officials and community leaders with a solid foundation in public organizational skills and financial management, grounded in current complex issues affecting communities.

Learning Tracks

  • Good Governance: Learn new strategies in emergency management, funding and community relations.

  • Community Economic Strategy: Adopt strategies for successful community economic development.

  • Leadership: Understand new leadership skills for successful planning, implementation and performance.

Who should attend?

The conference will be most beneficial for community leaders in West Virginia and surrounding states. 

Some regular attendees include:

  • Community volunteer leaders
  • City and county officials
  • County commissioners
  • Main Street program participants
  • Chamber of Commerce representatives
  • Local business owners/managers
  • Mayors
  • City/town council members
  • City managers
  • Municipal planners
  • Members of local boards and commissions (CVBs, planning commissions, parks and recreation commissions)
  • Local EDA directors/members
  • Extension professionals
  • Historical organizations
  • Community development organizations
  • Students

Awards & Recognition

In 2013, the Academy introduced a new recognition and award system for all attendees.
CLA Champion Award

The Community Leadership Academy Champion award honors an individual each year who is doing an exemplary job and going above and beyond expectations to develop their community through demonstrated leadership, service, or other activities.

To be eligible for the award, the nominee must have previously attended CLA and cannot not be an individual involved in planning the academy. A nomination packet must include information on what the person has done to promote and support CLA. It must demonstrate how they are applying what they learned learned at CLA in a community setting. It must also include at least one letter of support from someone other than the award nominee.

CLA Champion Award Nomination Packet

2019 Community Leadership Academy Champion - Vivian Parsons

Community Leadership Academy Champion 2019 - Vivian Parsons with Mike Dougherty, 2019 Conference Chair

Cumulative Recognition

There is also a cumulative recognition of participation. There are five levels of recognition (bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and titanium). Each requires the completion of 24 hours of instruction (24, 48, 72, 96, and 120 hours, respectively). After completing 120 hours, a participant will be placed in a mentee/mentorship program where they will have opportunities to recruit, guide and mentor less experienced participants.

The program is open to all academy participants. Credit is given only for those sessions attended.

If you would like to know how many hours you have earned so far or if you have any other questions regarding the cumulative recognition program, contact Michael Dougherty.

Past Academies 2013–2018

Past Academies

For more details about the Community Leadership Academy, please contact: Community Leadership Academy Director, Lauren Prinzo, or call Lauren at 304-293-8690.