Thank YouAs the Appalachian Leadership Academy (ALA) comes to the end, I wanted to express a heartfelt thank you to the many people who were instrumental in its 15 years of existence. Every quality program requires many hands to run effectively. Mentioned below are just a few who played an important role.

Thank you to Roger McCauley, former Executive Director of COAD, who was a driving force in the initial creation of ALA. The program began with funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Mr. McCauley worked with several staff and faculty at the Voinovich School (then ILGARD), in particular, Marsha Lewis, Pat DeWeese and Mark Wienburg. State appropriations were received by collaboration with John Carey and Joy Padgett, who were state representatives at the time. It must be noted that the program worked with the Governor’s Office of Appalachia and its directors, Dan Neff, T.J. Justice, Joy Padgett and currently Jason Wilson.

In later years when state appropriations were lost, Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) picked up the funding, and programming expanded to include both ALA and the Community Action Leadership Academy (CALA). Thank you to Vicki Mroczek (deceased), Nick Sunday and Chris Reis from DSA who were strong supporters of the programming. CALA ended in 2011 and CAP agency staffing was incorporated into ALA at that time.

Thank you to the Community Action Program agency Executive Directors and other non-profit agency directors who supported the programming by sending staffing throughout the years it was provided. To date, there are 388 alumni who have graduated from both ALA/CALA.

The 2014 Advisory Committee includes Tom Reed, Karen Fabiano, Michael Higgins, Judy Millesen, Rosie Picklesimer, Ron Rees (current Executive Director of COAD) and Deana Tribe who was also a presenter focusing on the Appalachian piece of programming. Other presenters are too numerous to mention however provided the current, relevant professional expertise in order to allow participants to gain holistic management skills so valuable to their roles in non-profit agencies in the region.

The current slate of Project Reviewers was Terry Edwards, Sandra Edwards, Kelly Kupcak, Valerie Heiby, Helen McGrail, Kendra O’Reilly and Amy Rock. These people volunteered countless hours of time and experiential advice working with the participants to complete capstone projects, many of which are still being offered by agencies today.

A special thank you must go to former ALA/CALA Program Managers, Karen Collins (13 years) and Amy Rock (1 year) who led the program prior to my tenure. Former support staff, Bryan Zabitski and Betsy Gosnell, was also instrumental in providing a quality experience for participants. The current support personnel, Dianna Poling has provided much needed assistance to both the participants and program management for the last two years.

The program was a valuable resource for non-profits in the Appalachian Region and produced many leaders who are now leading their organizations into the future. The loss of ALA from the region is disappointing however I am confident that the ripple effects from past participants will be felt for many years to come.


Lora Rawson, COAD Professional Development Programs Manager



Congratulations to the Class of 2014

ALA Class of 2014 Graduation Picture
Left to right – Leigh Kelley (Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development), Clinton Throckmorton (Pike County Community Action), Tracy Mathews (Pike County Community Action), Kandy Tanner (Ross County Community Action), Diana Roush (Gallia-Meigs Community Action), Lisa Robinson (Ross County Community Action), Lisa Fulk (Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development) and Lora Rawson (ALA Program Manager).

Not pictured – Anna Shope (Gallia-Meigs Community Action) and Kevin McCoy (Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development)