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Civic Leaders Fellowship Program Returns for Fifth Year

Retention efforts in the Ohio Valley continue to be the subject of conversation within government, business and community circles.  The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley (CFOV) and its Civic Leaders Fellowship Program aims to showcase the area’s potential to those likely to start professional journeys elsewhere with the goal of keeping local talent here.

The Civic Leaders Fellowship Program is a community leadership initiative of the CFOV.  Now in its fifth year, the program matches selected students with participating host organizations and creates an internship paired with personal and professional development programming.

CFOV works in partnership with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation to offer local college students a paid summer internship working at area businesses, nonprofits and government organizations for seven weeks.  Students apply to participate and are chosen through a competitive selection process that includes an independent selection committee.  The Civic Leaders Fellowship Program is designed to enhance personal skills, expose opportunities to find employment in the Ohio Valley after graduation and to expand networking connections with peers, employers and local professionals.

The 2017 class of Civic Leaders includes 18 students from communities throughout the valley.  Of the 18, ten students are first-year program participants, seven are second-year participants and one is a third-year participant and program completer.

Program organizers believe opportunities like the Civic Leaders Fellowship Program have the ability to positively impact not only participating students, but those entities also involved in programmatic elements.

“The goal of this program is to increase the probability of more young people returning to our region after they graduate from college.  Our work with these young people reminds us of the energy and vibrancy they bring to a community,” shared Susie Nelson, executive director of CFOV.

Students work Monday-Thursday at their host sites and spend each Friday at the CFOV office for personal and professional development programming and team building activities.  This program provides a collaborative way for employers, nonprofits, community partners and foundations to work collectively to improve our region’s potential workforce for the future.

Program Participants and Placements

First-Year Fellows
Christopher Blackwell, Belmont County – Touchstone Research Laboratory
Stephanie Courts, Ohio County – Ohio Valley Medical Center
Alec Dodd, Ohio County – Russell Nesbitt Services, Inc.
Jacqueline Gellner, Marshall County – Regional Economic Development Partnership (RED)
Danielle Kaminski, Ohio County – Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC
Cara Martin, Marshall County – Wheeling Country Day School
Stephanie Pennacchio, Hancock County – Trinity Health System
Sara Quigley, Marshall County – YWCA, Wheeling
Brooke Robinson, Belmont County – City of Martins Ferry
Samantha Schaal, Belmont County – Legal Aid of West Virginia

Second-Year Fellows
Megan Cook, Brooke County – Brooke Hancock Family Resource Network
Andrea Garrison, Marshall County – Wheeling Health Right
Azhiare Goodwin-Rowe, Ohio County – US Bankruptcy Court, Northern District
Miranda Heitz, Marshall County – Wheeling Heritage
Mason Lee, Ohio County – Ohio Valley Medical Center
Jordan Miller, Ohio County – City of Wheeling
Megan Randolph, Ohio County – Children’s Home of Wheeling

Third-Year Fellow
Hayden Blazer, Marshall County – Zeno, Pockl, Lilly & Copeland, A.C.

Funding for the Civic Leaders Fellowship Program is provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Schenk Charitable Trust, Southwestern Energy, the Karl and Mildred Niekamp Charitable Foundation, the James B. Chambers Memorial Foundation, First Energy and the Hess Fund of the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.  To learn more about CFOV and the Civic Leaders Fellowship Program, please visit and click the Projects tab.