Bret Allphin, Development Director, Buckeye Hills Regional Council

Bret Allphin has 17 years of experience with the Buckeye Hills Regional Council in Marietta Ohio, serving as GIS Manager and most recently as Development Director since 2012. Buckeye Hills is a Local Development District that serves as a liaison between local governments and public agencies at the State and Federal level.  Buckeye Hills acts behalf or residents of an eight county region in Southeastern Ohio to provide a range of community services on including grant administration, grant research, mapping and data research, transportation planning, small business development, and senior services through the Area Agency on Aging.  Mr. Allphin is a 2001 cum laude graduate of Marietta College where he majored in Political Science and minored in Leadership Studies.

Kyle Darton, Economic Development Representative, U.S. Department of Commerce

Kyle Darton serves as Ohio and Indiana’s Economic Development Representative for the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Chicago Regional Office. Prior to joining EDA, he earned a Master’s of City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly Tech in San Luis Obispo, CA. He has worked for the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Planning and Development Regional Office as a Community Planning Specialist in Columbus, OH, and also worked in California for San Diego County’s Department of Public Works as a Land Use and Environmental Planner. As an Economic Development Representative for EDA, he develops and implements program strategies, manages applications and grants, and works closely with Federal and non-Federal partners to revitalize, expand, and upgrade distressed communities’ physical infrastructure to attract new industry, encourage business expansion and generate long-term private sector jobs and investment. He continues to support EDA’s mission to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies.

Lisa Duvall, Communication Manager, Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA)

Lisa Duvall joined the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association in April of 2018 as communications manager. She is a graduate of Bellaire High School and West Liberty State College with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. Lisa has worked in media, press relations and communications for 20 years, and she has also worked in business development, economic and community development throughout the OMEGA region. She is a life-long resident of Belmont County.

Jeff Finkle, President / CEO, International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

As President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) – the world’s largest economic development membership organization – Jeff Finkle is a recognized leader and international authority on economic development.

​IEDC as a membership organization serves city, county state economic development organizations along with their public private partners as they try to create, retain expand jobs, grow tax base and enhance wealth. ​

With the formation of IEDC in 2001 following the merger of the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED) – where he was president for 15 years – and the American Economic Development Council (AEDC), Jeff set the course for a more effective and influential organization. Today IEDC is renowned for its leadership in professionalizing and diversifying the field of economic development.

​Jeff has served on the board of directors of the Arlington County economic development commission and Alexandria Partnership, both in Virginia.  Under Jeff’s leadership IEDC formerly managed the Association of University Research Parks and the Association of Defense Communities. ​​He currently sits on ACT’s National Workforce Solutions Advisory Board

Jeff previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and has received numerous awards over the years for his commitment to making sustainable economic development a priority in communities of all sizes. Significantly, in 2011 he was lauded by the U.S. Department of Commerce for his 25 years of stewardship over CUED and IEDC. Moreover, as a leader in community service and philanthropy, in 1989 Jeff founded the Bollinger Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to children who have lost a parent who worked in the field of economic development.

A frequent ​speaker​, ​Jeff has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, Fox television and the Journal Report on PBS. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications in 1976 from Ohio University in Athens and pursued graduate studies in business administration at Ohio State University. He maintains a strong connection with Ohio University’s Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs where he also serves as an ​Appalachian New Economy Partnership Fellow.

John Hemmings, Executive Director, Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC)

John Hemmings is the Executive Director (August 2008 to Present) of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC), and has been with OVRDC since 1991.  The OVRDC, located in Waverly, Ohio, is a public regional planning commission that coordinates federal, state, and local economic and community development resources to encourage development in twelve southern Ohio counties:  Adams, Brown, Clermont, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton.  OVRDC serves as a Local Development District (LDD) for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and as an Economic Development District (EDD) for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA). In this capacity, OVRDC prioritizes development needs and sets priorities for projects to be funded by ARC and EDA.  Established in 1967, OVRDC has a 50-year history of fostering economic development and job creation in the region.

Mr. Hemmings is a native of Scioto County, Ohio and lives there with his wife, Crystal, and his son, Jonathan.  Majoring in Business Economics, John graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration

Jason Jolley, Associate Professor / Director University EDA Center, Ohio University

Dr. Jolley is an Assistant Professor of Economic Development and MPA Director at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. At Ohio University, he also serves as a Research Fellow in the Center for Entrepreneurship and directs Ohio University’s portion of the US Economic Development Administration University Center (joint with Bowling Green State University).

Dr. Jolley previously worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Senior Research Director for the Center for Competitive Economies, an applied economic development research center in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Kenan-Flagler Business School.  His research has been published in Business Strategy and the Environment, Economic Development Quarterly, State and Local Government Review, Review of Policy Research, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting, & Financial Management, and Economic Development Journal, among other scholarly outlets.

Deb Markley, Co-Director / Co-Founder, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and Senior Vice President, Locus Impact Investing

Deborah M. Markley, PhD has over 30 years of experience working in community economic development as both an academic and practitioner. She is co-director and co-founder of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, a national non-profit organization helping communities achieve a more prosperous future by supporting business, social and civic entrepreneurs. She is Senior Vice President of LOCUS Impact Investing, a social enterprise launched in 2017 to empower place-focused foundations to invest their capital locally to build prosperous, vibrant communities. Deb contributes to both the Center’s Entrepreneurial Communities’ and Community Development Philanthropy teams. Together with the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, she is working to advance the practice of economic development philanthropy among place-focused foundations. In addition, she has been part of the WealthWorks community of practice, working to test and share a systems approach to doing economic development differently. Deb has BS and MS degrees in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University and a PhD in Agriculture Economics from Virginia Tech.

John Molinaro, President / CEO, Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth

John Molinaro serves as President and CEO of Appalachian Partnership Inc. Before joining API, Molinaro was co-director of the Community Strategies Group at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.

Molinaro has been recognized as a leader in growing the economies of rural areas through holistic, sustainable placed-based approaches, focused on economic and community development throughout his career.

Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, he spent nearly 20 years at the West Central Initiative in Minnesota. He launched the West Central Initiative as a start-up, leading efforts in the realm of business retention and expansion, workforce development, fundraising, assistance to manufacturers and regional planning.

Steve Moore, President / CEO, Wastren Advantage

Since 2006, Mr. Moore has been the President/CEO of Wastren Advantage, Inc.(WAI).  During this period, his leadership has taken WAI from a regional firm with less than 50 employees to a national company providing products and services around the globe.  The parent company WAI owns in whole, or in part, more than 20 different entities ranging from providing environmental remediation and facility operations services for the U.S. Government to manufacturing and processing plastics and specialty chemicals for customers around the world.  Under his leadership, WAI has created hundreds of jobs and has developed new technologies and patents in several industries.  Mr. Moore sits on the board of many of the WAI-owned companies as well as several other non-profit entities that support economic development, innovation incubators, and health and welfare providers in our region.  Mr. Moore is also a founding member of the Tri State Angel Investment Group which is a private equity fund established in 2015 to focus on investing in companies in the Southern Ohio region.  He has an A.A.S and a BS in Natural Science from Shawnee State University, a Juris Doctorate from Capital University Law School, and is a member of the Ohio Bar Association.  Mr. Moore and his Jennifer reside in rural Southern Ohio, where they founded the Jenny & Steve Moore Foundation.

M. Duane Nellis, President, Ohio University

Dr. M. Duane Nellis was named the 21st president of Ohio University on February 22, 2017. As an internationally recognized scholar and national higher education leader, Dr. Nellis brings nearly four decades of experience in academia as a president, provost, dean and professor to Ohio University.

Prior to arriving at OHIO, Dr. Nellis was president of Texas Tech University from 2013 to 2016. He led Texas Tech to designation as Carnegie ‘highest’ research activity national research university. The institution was also designated nationally as an Innovative and Economic Prosperity University and received special recognition for university engagement during his tenure. Prior to his time at Texas Tech, Dr. Nellis was president of the University of Idaho, provost and senior vice president at Kansas State University, and dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University.

He is recognized nationally and internationally for his research that utilizes satellite data and geographic information systems to analyze various dimensions of the Earth’s land surface. 

Dr. Nellis received his bachelor’s degree in earth sciences/geography at Montana State University in 1976. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in geography from Oregon State University in 1977 and 1980, respectively.

Leslie Schaller, Director of Programs, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet)

Leslie Schaller serves as the ACEnet Director of Programs and support the program staff to deliver training, incubation and technical assistance services to entrepreneurs in sector networks in the Appalachian counties of Ohio. Ms. Schaller works with regional partners throughout Central Appalachia to build the capacity of sector networks, the formation of entrepreneurial ecosystems and infrastructure and the design of impact metrics through ACEnet consulting services. She secures public and private funding through grants and service fees to expand ACEnet’s programs and collaborative networks. Ms. Schaller also works directly with entrepreneurs throughout their intake assessment process, start-up, and expansion stages. Ms. Schaller is currently a partner of the Central Appalachian Network, the Ohio Food Policy Network, the Ohio/West Virginia Food Hub Network, the WealthWorks Hub Network, and the Aspen Institute’s Scale Academy.

Leonard Stepp, Jr., Sr. Vice President, Ashtabula County Medical Center

Leonard Stepp Jr. is currently the Sr. Vice President of Administration at Ashtabula County Medical Center (ACMC).  He was hired by ACMC in September 2011 to serve as the Vice President of The Ashtabula Clinic, a 70+ employed provider multi-specialty group.  He continues to oversee ACMC’s multi-specialty provider practices in addition to the ACMC Hospitalist Program, several outpatient Ancillary Departments, and community-based Family Health Centers. Prior to coming to ACMC, Leonard got his start in healthcare, right out of college, at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1999 where he served in various finance and administrative leadership roles.  

Leonard graduated with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Myers University in 2005 where he also completed an undergraduate degree in Accounting, in 1999. He grew up on the near west-side of Cleveland. He currently lives in Concord Twp., Ohio with his wife, Katie, 4-year-old son, and nearly 2-year-old twin daughters.  In his downtime, Leonard spending time with family and friends, is avid Cleveland sports fan, enjoys playing golf, and volunteering.

Rick Stockburger, COO, Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center (TBEIC)

Rick is a decorated veteran who served in combat operations on multiple continents. He has founded multiple for-profit companies including Saving Cities, a media company focused on urban revitalization in legacy cities. He is also the co-founder of Launch League a community based approach to business incubating and growth. He also ran and developed programming for Leadership Akron. Rick has a strong background as an economic development consultant as well as a business consultant and was born and raised in the Mahoning Valley.

Sean Terrell, Director of Special Programs, Hocking College

Sean Terrell currently serves as the Interim Dean of Workforce Development at Hocking College. He leads a team of workforce and economic development professionals focused on transforming the Appalachian economy through short-term certificate-based training at the College. He currently manages multiple grant-funded projects including Appalachia RISES, a $2 million ARC-sponsored project that trains and retrains workers for high-skilled careers in manufacturing, CDL, Automotive Technology, Advanced Energy, and Petroleum Technology. Additionally, he serves as an advocate and partner for projects that promote entrepreneurship in Southeast Ohio, including The Innovation Gateway of Appalachian Ohio and Entre ED.

Sean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and is working towards his MBA at Ohio University. He lives in Westerville, Ohio with his wife Amanda and 4 year-old son Brendan.

Tim Thomas, Federal Co-Chair, Appalachian Regional Commission

Tim Thomas was sworn in as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s twelfth federal co-chair on April 3, 2018. As federal co-chair, Thomas works directly with ARC’s 13 member governors, their state alternates and program managers, and a network of local development districts to continue creating economic opportunities in the Appalachian Region’s coal-impacted communities, support small business and entrepreneurial development in rural Appalachia, and address the Region’s opioid crisis. 
Nominated by President Donald Trump in January 2018, Thomas has more than 20 years’ experience in public infrastructure, workforce training, and regulatory issues. He most recently served on U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s state staff from 2015 to 2018. In that role, Thomas fostered deep partnerships with state and local officials, community leaders, and constituent groups to support economic and community development initiatives. He was previously the director of external and regulatory affairs for Swift & Staley, a Kentucky-based maintenance, operations, and environmental services company that included federal and state agencies among its clients, such as the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture.

During the administration of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, Thomas served in key roles in the state environmental and public protection cabinet, including that of federal facility coordinator, helping provide regulatory oversight of federal installations located in Kentucky. He then became the executive director of the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, overseeing an $800 million portfolio of loans and grants supporting water, wastewater, and broadband development.

Thomas began his early career as a law clerk to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. He also served on Senator McConnell’s staff in the late 1990s, assisting local communities with project development through the federal appropriations process.

Thomas has a bachelor of science degree from Murray State University, and a law degree from the University of Louisville.

Mark Weinberg, Founding Dean, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University

Mark Weinberg is a Founding Dean and a Professor of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University specializing in the areas of organizational strategy and public sector value creation. He is the Founding Dean of Ohio University’s George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. In 2002, he was named the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Whisman Scholar and served in that capacity for three years. Professor Weinberg received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland and his doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has taught a range of management courses including the capstone seminar in Public Administration, Public Budgeting, Financial Management, and Public Policy Analysis and published in these areas.

Mike Workman, President, Contraxx Furniture

Mike Workman is the founder and owner of Contraxx Furniture, a custom hospitality furniture manufacturer that develops and manufactures custom furniture for brand hotels, resorts, time shares, boutique hotels, restaurants, and senior living facilities nationwide. The company was founded in 1996 and in 2008 developed a unique hub-and-spoke model of distributed manufacturing to produce furniture exclusively in the United States. Today, the company impacts over 500 manufacturing jobs in family-owned factories in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Upstate New York.

Mike is also a founding board member of APEG, Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth; a founding board member of the Morgan Community Fund; and former executive director of the Morgan County Community Improvement Corporation.

Kathy Zook, Appalachian Regional Commission Program Manager, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments

Kathy Zook has been the ARC Program Manager for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments since 2009. Kathy is a graduate of the University of Akron and has worked in public service for over 19 years managing various programs such as the Eastgate ARC program, 5310 Specialized Transportation Program and OhioRideshare.

As a Council of Governments in Youngstown, Ohio, Eastgate represents the three counties of Ashtabula, Mahoning, and Trumbull.  Eastgate serves as a regional forum to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern, and to develop recommendations and plans to address those issues. Eastgate is committed to promoting cooperative regional efforts in the planning, programming, and implementation of public sector activities. Eastgate serves its member communities through its many state and federal designations such as being an, Economic Development District, ARC Local Development District, Ohio Public Works Commission District, Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Water Quality Planning agency. 

Her interest include rock climbing, animal advocacy, gardening (vegetables, flowers, wildflowers, herbs), nature explorer, and health/fitness.