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OMEGA-Region leaders part of inaugural class of Appalachian Leadership Institute

CAMBRIDGE — Two leaders in the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association region have been selected to represent Ohio as members of the inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, a comprehensive regional leadership program developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy; Tuskegee University; and Collective Impact.

Tiffany Swigert, executive director of the Coshocton Port Authority, and Brennan Dudley, administrator of the village of Byesville in Guernsey County, were among 40 professionals selected from 180 applicants who live or work in the Appalachian region, which is comprised of parts of 12 states and all of West Virginia.

“Having these two very deserving trailblazers selected as part of the first Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellowship program speaks to the caliber of work going on throughout the OMEGA region,” said OMEGA Executive Director Jeannette Wierzbicki. “Tiffany and Brennan have demonstrated time and again their commitment to improving their communities, and the Appalachian Leadership Institute will give them additional tools to enhance their work. I am so proud to have supported their applications and look forward to watching their growth as leaders in the OMEGA region.”

John Carey, director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, said Ohio had a number of excellent applicants from which to choose.

“I encourage those who live and work in Ohio’s Appalachian region to apply for this fellowship when the application period opens in early 2020,” he said.

The Appalachian Leadership Institute is a nine-month program of skill-building seminars, best practice reviews, field visits, mentoring and networking. The curriculum will be anchored by six multi-day seminars around the region with the first sessions taking place Oct. 21-24 in Morehead, Ky. Subsequent training sessions will be held in Dalton, Ga.; Starkville, Miss.; Beckley; Boone, N.C.; and Jamestown, N.Y., followed by a capstone graduation in Washington, DC, in July 2020.

As part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, Swigert and Dudley will work directly with public policy, community development, education, investment and other professionals who live or work in the Appalachian region to design effective economic development project proposals, integrate community assets into long-lasting economic development strategies, identify resources available to spur economic development, locate and access investment capital from a variety of public and private sources and prepare competitive applications for public grant opportunities.

“Having our local development director selected as one of only 40 in a 13-state, 420-county Appalachian Region is a tremendous honor both for Tiffany and Coshocton,” said Coshocton Mayor Steve Mercer. “Being named an fellow for this program is an acknowledgement of the tireless effort and energy she brings to the port authority on our behalf. It recognizes the progress she’s made in such a short time along with expanding the leadership potential she’ll be gaining by being a part of this intensive training. I’m very proud of Tiffany and look forward to seeing the fruit this will bear for all of Coshocton.”

“I am so grateful to have this incredible opportunity before me,” Swigert said. “The ARC is at the forefront of innovation and investment in our Appalachian region, and there is no one better to learn from. I look forward to the vast information and diverse connections that will assist us in bringing prosperity to our communities.”

“I think it’s a great honor that Brennan was selected from so many other applicants,” said Byesville Mayor Jay Jackson. “We are blessed to have him in the village; he’s a real asset. This is a testament to his hard work, talent and leadership,” Jackson said.

“I look forward to gaining information that I will able to use to identify additional resources, develop more effective uses of community assets and explore innovative ideas on the development of private-public partnerships,” Dudley said. “As the administrator of a small community, I work daily to identify opportunities to advance our local economy. I believe I bring a unique perspective on how government can work cooperatively with various groups or individuals in order to accomplish goals while advancing the vision of the community and region.”

Upon completion of the program, the two will automatically become part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute Network, a peer-to-peernetworking group committed to Appalachia’s future.

OMEGA is a collaborative body of member governments that serves as a facilitator between state and federal government agencies and local entities to provide opportunities in economic and community development through networking, education, planning, research and allocation of resources.

It serves Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Holmes, Muskingum and Tuscarawas counties.

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