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Center for Regional Innovation hosts Appalachia Advancing project meeting

ISSUED: 6 December 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A national group of thought leaders convened at Shepherd University’s Center for Regional Innovation on Tuesday, December 6, to discuss the Appalachia Advancing project. The project will identify opportunities in the Appalachian region to build community-based, collaborative economies that leverage innovative technologies and public-private partnerships.

The initial project, part of a broader initiative called BROCADE (Building Resilient Opportunities in Culturally Aware, Diverse Environments), will focus on McDowell County, West Virginia, with the intent to design the approach as repeatable, scalable, and transferable to other areas of Appalachia and similar communities in the U.S.

Dr. Linton Wells II, managing partner of Wells Analytics, LLC and a former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, is the chief architect of the Appalachia Advancing project. In addition to Wells, the project is being co-led by Dr. Michael Hieb, research associate professor in George Mason University’s Center for Excellence in C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computing, Intelligence) and Cyber, in partnership with Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix, an internationally renowned cancer researcher and founder of Shepherd University’s Center for Regional Innovation.

“The BROCADE framework uses industrial-strength platforms, such as the internet, to help individuals unleash human capacity,” said Wells. “BROCADE integrates many innovative technologies with scalable economic models that are adapted to local settings. It is a bottom-up approach, based on local engagement and leadership. The participants we invited to discuss the project are experts in issues facing Appalachia.”

Participants in the session included Earl Gohl, Jr., federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission; Police Chief Maury Richards, a leader of The Martinsburg Initiative, a police/school/community partnership to prevent opioid addiction; Dr. Marcia Brand, former deputy administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that works to fill in the gaps for people who live outside the economic and medical mainstream; Brandon Dennison, CEO of Coalfield Development Corporation, a community-based organization that provides affordable homes, creates quality jobs, and generates opportunities for quality life for low income families in southern West Virginia; Carolyn Vigil, strategic partner advisor for CA Technologies API-Management Business Unit, which helps companies shape the future through software; Clare Lockhart, director and co-founder of the Institute for State Effectiveness, which finds and promotes approaches to building good governance; Paul Woods, leader of the technology team at SkyTruth; and Chip Hauss, senior fellow for innovation at Alliance for Peacebuilding.

“Several members of this initial Appalachia Advancing planning group will return to Shepherd to participate in the Reinventing West Virginia Economic Summit to be held March 18,” said Shepherd President Hendrix. “The summit will address West Virginia’s economy and its impact on education, technology, energy, tourism, and marketing, the same issues that BROCADE’s Appalachia Advancing project is examining. A white paper will be developed from the summit that will serve as a road map for economic transition and community-based sustainability.”

“There are many university faculty and students who would like to deliver the benefits of new technologies to assist people as well as develop resilient communities,” said George Mason’s Dr. Hieb. “I see BROCADE as engaging academia (both in Engineering and Social Sciences) in ways that have not been used before to develop innovative and practical solutions in this area.”

For more information about the Appalachia Advancing project, contact Dr. Linton Wells,, 202-436-6354; Dr. Michael Hieb,, 703-993-3990; or Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix,

For more information about Shepherd’s Reinventing West Virginia Economic Summit, contact Dr. Chip Zimmer,, 304-876-5183.

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