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2019 Keynote Speaker

David C. Hardesty, Jr.

President Emeritus and Professor of Law,  West Virginia University  David Hardesty, Jr.

David Hardesty is president emeritus and professor of law at West Virginia University. He teaches subjects related to legal ethics, leadership for lawyers, trends in the legal profession, law practice management and the role of legislatures in the American legal system – including bill drafting.

Hardesty holds degrees from West Virginia University, Oxford University (which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar) and Harvard Law School. He also attended advanced courses in higher education leadership and decision theory at Harvard University.

“We all both lead and follow. Leadership is a process whereby leaders seek to motivate others to act in their own self interests. It is not a permanent position. This conference helps us all to become more effective leaders and better followers.”  - David C. Hardesty, Jr.

Track Speakers

Tanya Lamo
Tanya Lamo.

Extension Educator Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Penn State University Extension 

Tanya Lamo assists small businesses in identifying ways to diversify, expand and market.  Encouraging leadership in the workplace, she helps businesses refine customer service skills, employee training and overall business experience. She also works to create opportunities for businesses to expand their professional network.

Prior to working at extension, Lamo gained seven years of teaching experience working with adults and youths with special needs. She holds a bachelor's degree from Delaware Valley University and is currently pursuing a master's degree at Penn State University in corporate innovation and entrepreneurship.

John Wodehouse

Head Shot of John Wodehouse.

Extension Educator Business, Penn State University Extension

John Wodehouse is an instructor with Penn State University Extension, and he works in the fields of leadership development and agribusiness. Prior to joining Penn State, Wodehouse’s career experience included farming, landscape management and design, sales and facilities management. Currently, his work is focused on leadership empowerment and growing people. 

Wodehouse holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance from Albright College. He also obtained an associate's degree in landscape nursery science from Penn State University. Wodehouse is currently working toward a master’s degree in leadership development and social entrepreneurship from Penn State University. He will graduate in May 2019 with highest honors.

Alicia Anderson
Alicia Anderson.

Extension Educator, Penn State University Extension

Alicia Anderson is a Penn State University Extension sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship educator. Prior to working with extension, she was an active contributor to the start-up of a food hub in the northeast, bringing experiences in local food logistics, producer coordination, system development, implementing software solutions and production planning. Anderson also brings firsthand experience in small business development with a focus on long-term strategy for expansive community engagement. Her passion for cultivating change through entrepreneurship has led to exploring the leadership arena.

She holds a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University and a master's degree in supply chain management from Eastern Michigan University.

Kayla Wright

Kayla Wright.

Network Engagement Director, Generation West Virginia

Kayla Wright leads Generation West Virginia’s statewide network. We believe that foundationally, a young person’s decision is informed by a balance of two things: jobs and quality of place.

A West Virginia native, Wright graduated in just four years from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2016 with her bachelor’s degree in international business and her master's degree with a nonprofit management concentration. Relationship and network development have played a key role in Wright’s career, ranging in focus area from retail to nonprofit management.

Finally, she is driven by the knowledge that it is possible to make our home one of the best places to work, live and give for our next generation.

Jillian Kelly

Jillian Kelly.

Owner, Retro-tique and CEO, Morgantown Art Party

Jillian Kelly is a powerhouse in Morgantown's downtown economy. She is a promoter of oddities, vintage and underground culture in West Virginia, going beyond the ordinary when it comes to the variety of her products at Retro-tique. 

Aside from operating a unique business bringing life to the state's weird and unusual rarities, Kelly recently created the Morgantown Art Party to help local artists display their works in her shop, as well as provide bands and performing artists with a venue for their talents. She is changing the nature of the game when it comes to providing products and services to the community, and she is not slowing down anytime soon!

Cassidy Brooke Bayes

Business Owner and Young Entrepreneur

Cassidy Bayes.

Cassidy Brooke Bayes was born and raised in Fayetteville, West Virginia. She graduated from Fayetteville High School in 2013 and then graduated with a bachelor's degree in integrated communication from West Virginia University in 2017. 

Bayes opened her first business at the age of 22 – only two weeks after graduating college. Exactly one year later, at 23, she opened her second business. She is also a new member of Generation West Virginia's New River Gorge chapter. Her sights are set on making southern West Virginia more than just a summertime tourist destination!

Susan Aloi
Susan Aloi.

Director,  West Virginia Wesleyan College  School of Business 

Susan Aloi is the director of the West Virginia Wesleyan College   School of Business and teaches courses in management, leadership, nonprofit management, and business strategy and planning. She is a board member of the West Virginia Nonprofit Association, the West Virginia Center for Civic Life, a participant in Create Buckhannon and was a co-facilitator of the "What’s Next, West Virginia?" community dialogues. 

Heather Foster

Heather Foster. Executive Director, Volunteer West Virginia

Heather Foster’s curiosity, energy and get-to-yes leadership results in innovative new programs that produce results – like West Virginia Disaster Corps and the Be Kind, #VolunteerWV campaign. After Foster serving as the executive director of Volunteer West Virginia for only four years, West Virginia is ranked #1 in producing AmeriCorps members and overall volunteerism in the state has increased by 15 percent (that's more than 50,000 additional volunteers). 

A lifelong West Virginian, Foster has more than a decade of experience in grants management and volunteer support services. She is an AmeriCorps alum, a Leadership West Virginia graduate and a graduate of West Virginia State University.

Kimberly Weber
Kimberly Weber.

General Counsel and Former Staff Attorney, West Virginia Ethics Commission

Originally from Wheeling, West Virginia, Kimberly Weber graduated from West Virginia University College of Law in 1995. From 1995 to 1999, she served as an associate attorney for Pullin, Fowler and Flanagan, PLLC. Then, she went on to serve as the Charleston city attorney and assistant city attorney from 1999 to 2004. 

Since 2010, Weber has served as general counsel and former staff attorney for the West Virginia Ethics Commission. 

Linda Falcone

Linda Falcone. Extension Educator – Business and Community Vitality, Penn State University Extension

With extensive experience in community outreach and teaching, Linda Falcone serves as an extension educator of business and community vitality at Penn State University Extension. Her community outreach experience includes fundraising, project management, grant writing, volunteer management, strategic planning and workforce development. Her teaching experience includes business, entrepreneurship, marketing, economics and microcomputers at the college level. She has also taught workshops on customer service, diversity, workplace ethics, basic personal finance, workplace bullying, visioning, team building and youth work-readiness skills. 

Falcone holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh in architectural studies and business and a master’s degree in business administration from Kutztown University. She is currently pursuing a certificate in geospacial intelligence at Penn State University.

Cheyenne Luzynski
Cheyenne Luzynski.

Teaching Assistant Professor, West Virginia University  Multi disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Studies and Leadership Studies

Cheyenne Luzynski currently teaches leadership at West Virginia University, focusing on the integration of resiliency, cognitive development, identity development, self-efficacy, motivation and critical reflection. 

Luzynski received a doctorate in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University. While there, she was a primary architect in creating the interdisciplinary leadership minor and co-directed the Student Success Assessment Council. She also received her master’s degree in sport administration, and she was a head volleyball coach and assistant athletic director at Alma College. Her extensive experience in designing and facilitating workshops is coupled with her research on the challenges women confront in achieving leadership positions in intercollegiate athletics.

Maja Holmes
Maja Holmes.

Chair and Associate Professor,  West Virginia University Department of Public Administration

Maja Holmes is an associate professor and serves as chair of the Department of Public Administration. She studies how public managers implement inclusive practices, provide leadership within and across sectors, and manage in a multisector environment. 

Holmes has more than 20 years of experience in working directly with public and nonprofit organizations and academic institutions, providing team development and facilitation training, diagnosing public management issues and facilitating strategic planning within nonprofits and academic units.

Margaret Stout
Margaret Stout.

Associate Professor, West Virginia University Department of Public Administration

Margaret Stout’s research explores the role of public and nonprofit administrators in achieving social and economic justice. Following her first career, she continues a passion for community development through engaged scholarship with her graduate students. 

As program coordinator for the master's program of public administration with an emphasis in local governance and community development and the graduate certificate program in community development policy and practice, she employs a unique apprenticeship-style approach. Stout's approach was recognized by West Virginia University through its Outstanding Public Service Award in 2016 and its Faculty Excellence in Civic Engagement Award in 2017. It was also recognized by the Community Development Society through its Outstanding Educator Award in 2017.

Aaron Rote

Aaron Rote. Co-founder and Co-owner, Short Story Brewing Company 

Aaron Rote is co-founder and co-owner of Short Story Brewing Company in Rivesville, West Virginia. Along with his sister and brother-in-law, he runs one of the state’s most exciting, respected and fastest-growing breweries. 

At Short Story Brewing, Rote leads the marketing activities. His marketing efforts finished in the top level according to Brilliant Stream’s survey of the best West Virginia breweries for 2018. He is also president of the West Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.

Spencer Moss

Spencer Moss. Executive Director, West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition

As the daughter of a farmer, Spencer Moss can’t ignore her roots when it comes to farming and agriculture. She’s committed to helping those who want to live a farming lifestyle find the resources to do so. In her other journeys, she’s developed a deep commitment to helping communities tell their story. She’s worked with nonprofits, extension services, universities and political candidates to visually showcase their projects and programs.

In her free time, Moss operates a small freelance multimedia business, often travels to hear good old-time music played and visits with friends and family.​ Moss holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Missouri Western State University and a master's degree in public administration with an emphasis in local governance and community development from West Virginia University.

Mike Costello

Mike Costello. Chef and Farmer, Lost Creek Farm

Growing up on a farm in Kanawha County, West Virginia, Mike Costello developed an appreciation for the land at an early age. As a youngster, he also found a home in the kitchen, learning to string pole beans and bake traditional desserts from his grandmother, "Momaw" Betty Williams. His interest in cooking eventually led him to enroll in culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina. After working in West Virginia restaurant kitchens and encountering a then-pervasive mentality that "quality" ingredients must be shipped to Appalachia from far away, Costello backed away from his formal culinary education before it even started.

Instead of landing in the Carolina Low Country, Costello enrolled in journalism school at West Virginia University, where his work established a recognition of food as an important mark of Appalachia's rich cultural heritage. In taking on reporting and documentary-style projects focused on food heritage, Costello learned the importance of storytelling, which remains central to Lost Creek Farm's cuisine. Most importantly, he maintained a strong passion for food and an even stronger passion for the region – never losing sight of an early desire to open a culinary business that would make the Mountain State proud.

Costello continues his journalistic work as a contributing editor, focusing on issues in regional food and culture at 100 Days in Appalachia. He serves on the board of directors for the Appalachian Food Summit and is involved in food and small farm policy initiatives with the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition.

Marion Ohlinger
Marion Ohlinger.

Owner and Chef, Hill and Hollow

A 12th generation West Virginian, Marion Ohlinger was born and raised on his family’s ancestral farm in Mason County. His 30-year career as a chef has carried him to more than 40 countries, five continents, all 50 states and to helm kitchens in such diverse locales as Vail, Scottsdale, Seattle and backcountry Alaska. 

Chef Ohlinger was selected for the inaugural edition of The Best Chefs in America 2013, voted Morgantown’s best chef four times and West Virginia’s best chef by "WV Living Magazine’s" Best of 2015 Readers Poll Awards. 

Howard E. Seufer, Jr.

Head shot of Howard Seufer.

Attorney, Bowles Rice

Lawyer Howard Seufer has dedicated his professional life to working with public school leaders and policy makers to improve public education in compliance with state and federal school laws. A partner in the Bowles Rice law firm, Seufer has practiced in the area of education law for more than 35 years, serving all 55 of West Virginia's county boards of education, regional education service agencies, the state's Department of Education, West Virginia community colleges and other institutions of higher education. As counsel to the West Virginia School Board Association, he is West Virginia’s liaison to the National Council of School Attorneys.

Seufer leads the Bowles Rice Education Law Group, which has been consistently listed as top tier in West Virginia education law by "U.S. News and World Report" best law firms since the publication’s inception. In 2019, "Best Lawyers in America" recognized Seufer for his work in West Virginia education law for the 16th consecutive year and Super Lawyers ® recognized him as a top-rated schools and education attorney in West Virginia.

A trained facilitator, Seufer is frequently engaged as a presenter and panelist on school law issues, emphasizing preventive legal advice and practical action steps for education leaders and administrators. 

"West Virginia Executive" magazine honored Seufer among its 2018 class of sharp shooters – leaders in the state who have a record of active participation in community service and philanthropic efforts.

He is an emeritus director and past chair of the nation’s first statewide education fund, the Education Alliance. He also serves as chair of the Board of Governors of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, as West Virginia coordinator for the Association of Community College Trustees and as treasurer of the nonprofit West Virginia Mansion Preservation Foundation. Seufer is a graduate of Michigan State University and the West Virginia University College of Law.

Carrie Staton

Carrie Staton. Director, West Virginia University BAD Buildings 

Carrie Staton is the director of West Virginia University BAD Buildings, which provides technical assistance and resources to communities to address abandoned and dilapidated properties. She provides strategic leadership and management, program development, partnership development, education and outreach, and develops research priorities, policies and publication strategies on blight in rural Appalachia.

Staton also serves as associate director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, where she provides operational leadership, program development and implementation, financial and administrative oversight, and partnership development and management. She received a bachelor's degree in nonprofit administration at Bethany College and a master's degree in public administration from West Virginia University.

Kathryn Ryan

Kathryn Ryan.

Community Development Program Associate,  West Virginia Community Development Hub

Kathryn Ryan graduated from West Virginia University with her master’s degree in public health in 2015. A native West Virginian, she is committed to empowering community members to make their communities thrive. As The Hub’s community development program associate, Ryan runs The Hub’s VISTA program and supports community engagement initiatives, such as The Hub’s newest program, Cultivate West Virginia. 

Daniel Bonner

Daniel Bonner. Chief Procurement Officer, Thirteen Palm Trees Podcast Productions

Daniel Bonner is the chief procurement officer of Thirteen Palm Trees Podcast Productions located in Fairmont, West Virginia. He handles all of the production on multiple podcasts ranging from art and music to gaming and folklore. Through years of playing in local bands and working in recording studios, he found a passion for audio engineering and discovering the sometimes hidden talents of West Virginians in business, art and music.

In 2010, his band was signed to Yellow Fish Records in Brighton, England, giving him the chance of a lifetime to tour across five different countries playing more than 300 live shows over the course of his career. In 2014, Bonner opened The Main Street Cafe in Clarksburg in order to provide a music venue, coffee shop and local beer garden. He is dedicated to providing services and multiple platforms to give a voice to the people of West Virginia.

Christopher "Rabi" Rabideau

Host and On-air Personality, Thirteen Palm Trees Podcast Productions
Chris Rabideau behind a podcast microphone.  

Christopher Rabideau is a host for Thirteen Palm Trees Productions located in Fairmont, West Virginia. Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, but raised in the great state of West Virginia, Rabideau uses his comedic talents and passion for engaging with the community to help expose unique entrepreneurs, artists and musicians on the podcast Wasted Local Talent. The podcast shines light on the extraordinary people of West Virginia giving them a platform to share their art, hobbies, careers and passions. Thanks to Rabideau's quick-witted, memorable personality and dedication to producing quality content, the podcast has reached more than 4,000 listens in its first six months of operation.

When he is not hosting the podcast, Rabideau is a leading force in the state's local music scene. He is the front man of the widely popular metal band Disillusion Effect, formed in 2012. His love for supporting local music and conversing with the people of West Virginia has inspired him to become a hilarious, engaging podcast host who is fiercely committed to helping West Virginians reach their full potential while sharing a couple laughs along the way.

Tighe Bullock

(Re)developer and Attorney , Crawford Holdings, LLC
Tighe Bullock.

Tighe Bullock is a (re)developer and lawyer who has spent the last 15 years restoring historic buildings and providing mixed-use space for local businesses and tenants. Bullock has helped create more than 70 permanent jobs through 15 businesses while restoring 10 historic buildings in Charleston, West Virginia. 

He serves on town council in his hometown of Thurmond, West Virginia, and is an avid outdoor enthusiast, white water raft guide, ski instructor, climber and hiker.  Bullock is a part of a growing group of young entrepreneurs driven to take the Mountain State in a new direction. 

Lydotta M. Taylor

Lydotta Taylor. Founder, President and CEO, The EdVenture Group and L-evation, LLC

Lydotta M. Taylor is the founder, president and CEO of The EdVenture Group, Inc. and L-evation, LLC. She began her career as a high school math teacher. Her passion to teach and lead others are the foundation of her two companies.

Today, she is a renowned thought leader and speaker, and she helps thousands of organizations and individuals maximize and own their true potential. Her nonprofit, The EdVenture Group, Inc., is considered a leader on school culture, family engagement, youth programming and innovative kindergarten through 12th grade initiatives. L-evation, LLC provides training for business, helping international organizations grow and prosper through strategic planning, leadership and personal development.

Taylor is many things – a former teacher, a leader, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a keynote speaker, a published author and a mother. At the foundation of these many roles and titles, she remains one thing – a teacher.

Mark McMillion Marc McMillion.

Principal, McMillion Leadership Associates

Mark McMillion is a seasoned leader with more than 25 years of leadership experience, training and practice. As a West Point graduate, he was privileged to learn at the finest school of leadership in the world. With two engineering degrees, he understands how hard data drives decisions. As a veteran leader, he's learned and practiced the soft skills of leadership. With tours of duty in Germany, Norway (with North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and two combat tours in Iraq, he served in a variety of positions on three continents and across the United States.  Contrary to what many believe, leadership in the Army is not as simple as giving orders or court-martialing someone. Building mutual trust, loyalty  and respect for others are critical requirements to be an effective leader in any environment.

McMillion's career highlights include his times as platoon leader, West Point assistant professor, battalion executive officer and exercise planner for the NATO. Each of these positions decisively shaped his development and learning.

As a platoon leader with great sergeants, he learned that leadership with great teams is sometimes as simple as securing them the resources and turning them loose. That's why he likes to say "50 percent of great leadership is knowing when to get out of the way." It's that other 50 percent that can be difficult. He's had plenty of practice in those situations as well.

Teaching at West Point, McMillion honed his presentation skills and delighted in shaping the Army for decades to come. He's now patiently waiting for one of his former cadets to mention how their West Point "P" profoundly shaped their rise to the presidency.

As the second-in-command of an artillery battalion, he actively managed every aspect of the unit, whether it was maintenance of more than 225 combat vehicles or developing the young officers of the unit. McMillion was an integral part of preparing the unit for its next combat deployment.

His experience in the NATO enabled him to grow a greater appreciation for the value of diversity. Working side by side with people from more than 20 different countries helped hone his communication and presentation skills, as approximately 80 percent of the staff were non-native English speakers. During those three years, he was involved in multiple planning teams and worked his way up to become the leader of exercise content. McMillion learned he didn't have to be the smartest person in the room (except when he was by himself!) to lead. He managed teams of subject-matter experts by learning to ask the right questions. The results were groundbreaking exercises for NATO.

McMillion retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2013, and he then founded McMillion Leadership Associates, a company committed to delivering useful, pragmatic leadership training to all levels of a company.  He has a bachelor's degree  in civil engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a master's degree  in cognitive systems engineering from The Ohio State University.

Natalie Roper Natalie Roper.

Executive Director, Generation West Virginia 

Natalie Roper has been the executive director of Generation West Virginia since October 2014, leading the organization’s efforts to attract, retain and advance young talent in the Mountain State.

Under her leadership, Generation West Virginia’s work has been highlighted in "Fast Company," "U.S. News and World Reports" and "Southern Living." Roper received her undergraduate degree and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.

She is a 2017 "Southern Living" Southerner of the Year, 2016 "WV Living" Wonder Woman and a proud alumna of the 2015 Leadership West Virginia class.

A West Virginian by choice, Roper is motivated each day to help make the state a place where more of the next generation can choose to stay.

Cynthia McComas Cynthia McComas.

AmeriCorps VIS TA,  West Virginia Community Development Hub -  Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities   

Cynthia McComas is an AmeriCorps VISTA for the West Virginia Community Development Hub on the Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities program, where she supports people of rural communities in their small business ventures. McComas received her master's degree in English from Marshall University in 2018.