SWVA RISE leadership program prepares for launch


The University of Virginia at Wise is collaborating with several regional partners to launch a new leadership program in Southwest Virginia. SWVA Rise is designed to elevate leadership capacity in the region by strengthening the skillsets of new and emerging leaders in businesses, non-profits, education governmental agencies, local boards, councils and faith-based initiatives.

The program will work to provide an expanded knowledge of the region and its opportunities and challenges. The program emerged from work by Opportunity SWVA, a regional collaborative coordinated by the University of Virginia at Wise in partnership with numerous regional partners including the Commonwealth Department of Housing & Community Development, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Friends of Southwest Virginia, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, the planning districts of Southwest Virginia and other community and economic development entities.

“Southwest Virginia is blessed to have numerous young and emerging leaders starting businesses, running our community and economic development organizations and transforming communities into a better place,” said James W. Morefield, delegate for the 3rd District of Virginia and chairman of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, a partner in this program. “We are working to ensure our next generation is equipped with a tool kit for success and SWVA Rise is an incredible component part of this.”

Sixteen individuals from a range of ages, social economic backgrounds, and education will be selected from the region—defined largely as the region served by Virginia Planning District Commissions 1, 2, 3 and 4, which serves the region from the Western tip of Virginia to the New River Valley. Interested candidates may apply to the program by visiting www.uvawise.edu/swvarise. Businesses and organizations interested in recommending a candidate to the program should email the candidate’s name, email and affiliation to rjj3s@uvawise.edu.

The program includes leadership training, mentor matching, knowledge of the region through planning district presentations and gaining valuable networking contacts for future collaboration. Developing leaders with a shared vision for Southwest Virginia supports the region’s growth and diversification strategy for the future. Noting the need for stronger leadership and vision voiced through community focus group meetings and surveys, the SWVA Rise Emerging Leadership program formed as an extension of Opportunity SWVA and the Rally SWVA community leadership program. The Appalachian Regional Commission provided a grant to develop and implement a plan to SWVA Rise.

The deadline for application is April 1, 2019. SWVA Rise will launch April 18, 2019.

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