Unite SWVA Leadership Summit

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

SWVA Higher Ed Center
Abingdon, VA

$25 Registration
Closes October 9, 2016

The Unite SWVA Leadership Summit is a learning and networking opportunity for all of us. It’s a chance for us – in the entire 17-county, 3-city region – to all get on the same page. We’ll hear from leaders inside and outside our region on how to work collectively and become more collaborative in today’s challenging economy. After three years of gathering input through the Southwest 2020 Summit, the time has come to foster collaboration among all community partners across all industries: education, health care, industry, manufacturing, small business, government and nonprofits. We are no longer just casting a vision; we are laying the groundwork for action. Together, we are determined to advance the local economy through collective impact. Join our movement to Unite SWVA by attending the 2016 Unite SWVA Leadership Summit.

Register Now
“A good opportunity to network with fellow colleagues.”
“Loved the positive, problem-solving approach.”
“Inspired thoughts of how I could do more.”
“A good time to exchange ideas and find out what is working.”

 Keynote Speaker



Emory, VA Native | Speaker | Humorist | Author
Through keynote presentations, seminars, and humor writing, Ron Culberson’s mission is change the workplace culture so that organizations are more productive and staff are more content. He uses his experience as a hospice social worker and leader to create insightful and practical messages that help each of his audiences become more successful – audiences including Wells Fargo, US House of Representatives, Virginia Department of Social Services, NASA, Carilion Clinic, and Verizon. What could be better? Oh, he’s darn funny!

Visit Ron’s Website

 2016 Trailblazer Awards


2016 Trailblazer Awards will be presented by:

Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade

Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade

Pamela Kestner, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources

Dr. Michael Robinson, Director of A. Linwood Holton Governor’s School

About Trailblazer Awards

We believe there should be less talk, and more action. So, at each Summit, Trailblazer Awards in Education, Financial Stability, and Health are given to organizations in the 17-county, 3-city region of Southwest Virginia that have successfully created and/or supported community partnerships that improve Southwest Virginia.  In other words, instead of just talking about improving the community, these organizations are actually improving the community using creative and exciting approaches to engage people.

2015 Trailblazer Award Winners


Dickenson County Schools

Financial Stability

The Southwest Virginia Advance Manufacturing Center of Excellence

Mr. Jack Kennedy


Mountain Youth Drama

Pulaski County Drug Court


To receive an award, the partnerships made possible by the nominated organization should be:

  • composed of organizations from more than one sector (nonprofit, business, faith-based, government, etc.);
  • composed of at least one organization in Lee, Scott, Wise, Norton, Dickenson, Buchanan, Russell, Tazewell, Washington, Smyth, Wythe, Bland, Grayson, Carroll, Giles, Galax, Giles, Pulaski, Montgomery, or Floyd;
  • collaborative in nature, and go beyond cooperation;
  • forging relationships that push partners beyond their core objectives, standard customer service base or standard practice; and
  • focused on needs of Southwest Virginia.
Nominate Now for 2016

 Presenters & Workshops

Lisa Bourne
Lisa BourneDirector, Therapeutic Day Treatment Services, Family Preservation Services

Trauma Informed Care: Essential Elements of Caring for Individuals with a Trauma History

This workshop will define trauma and discuss its impact on brain functioning and development throughout the lifespan.  Participants will define and discuss the importance of trauma informed care for people who have experienced trauma.  Participants will discuss how trauma informed care can be implemented by mental health professionals and supported by educators, social services professionals, members of law enforcement and the judicial system, and other community stakeholders.

Lisa is the director for Therapeutic Day Treatment Services for Family Preservation Services in Abingdon, VA. She received my bachelor’s degree with a double major in Public Policy and Community Service and Religion from Emory & Henry College, and a Master’s of Science degree in Counseling from Radford University. She is currently finishing her residency to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia, and pursuing certification in Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, an evidenced-based treatment strategy for children ages 3-17 struggling with the effects of trauma.

Neva Bryan
Neva BryanAssistant Director of Professional and Career Development, University of Virginia College at Wise

Rip Off the Labels – Building workforce relationships across generations

Almost every workforce today is cross-generational. Learn how each generation works and communicates, then look beyond the label to see the person behind it.

Neva Bryan is the Assistant Director of Professional and Career Development at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. She is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers and a member of the National Career Development Association. Neva has worked for several nonprofit organizations. Her other experience includes work in corporate public relations, telecommunication, journalism, mental health law and education, and marketing. Her PR clients have included nonprofits, banks, hospitals, libraries, realtors, manufacturers, software companies, and insurance providers. Her most recent volunteer work includes service as the publicity chair for Main Street St. Paul and designer of the Clinch Coalition’s new website. Neva is the author of several books and has been published in anthologies and literary journals across the country. She and her husband live in Wise County.

Laura Elliot
Laura ElliotMiddle School Success Director, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County

Community School Success Strategies

No single individual or organization can accomplish wide-scale community change alone.  We are stronger and more powerful when we work together.  The community school strategy is a set of partnerships between the school and community resources.  Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.  The community school strategy emphasizes real-world learning and community problem-solving while creating each school as a hub of resources that support and build on the strengths of students, their families and neighboring communities.

In this workshop participants will learn more about the community school strategy through the story of its development and growth in Asheville and Buncombe County, North Carolina.

Laura Elliot serves as the Director of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s Middle School Success Initiative.  Mrs. Elliot serves as the facilitator of the Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network, which utilizes a collective impact approach towards increasing graduation rates across both city and county school systems.  She has worked in Washington DC as a social services case manager, in Tererro, New Mexico as a residential school program administrator, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as a transitional housing facility program developer and in Asheville, North Carolina as a residential treatment, day treatment and after-school program director.   Her expertise is in creating system-level and sustainable change while keeping community focus on individual student and family level needs.  Mrs. Elliot serves on the Coalition for Community School’s Leadership Network and co-leads the United Way – Coalition for Community School Learning Community steering committee.

Sara Day Evans
Sara Day EvansFounding Executive Director, Accelerating Appalachia

Accelerating Appalachia

In this workshop you will learn about accelerating nature-based businesses (NBB’s) for good across Appalachia and the urban hubs. Accelerating Appalachia had over 200 applications from 2013-2016, 75% women-led businesses in food, farming, forests and fiber. ACAP’s 33 “NBB’s” have created over 200 jobs, support over 500 family farms, foresters, wildcrafters and family mills. NBB’s have leveraged over $2m in lending/equity and crowdfunded investment and over 100 mentors/advisers in network.

Sara Day Evans, is an award-winning, innovative sustainability program manager, social entrepreneur, and “living bridge” as she has recently been named, who for over 20 years has delivered outstanding results through strong leadership, creativity, and collaboration. Her inspiration in launching Accelerating Appalachia was borne out of a variety of circumstances: a natural evolution of her ongoing commitment to people, place and prosperity in Appalachia; conversations with leaders in the dynamic field of social enterprise; her own connection to place as a 6th generation Kentuckian; her service to distressed communities in Appalachia to help rebuild the loss of their furniture, textile, and farming economies while with the NC Department of Commerce; her impactful work with Kentucky’s Environmental Protection Cabinet; and the deep influence of her longtime friend, Wendell Berry, father of sustainable agriculture, and her parents and children. As a geology and hydrogeology major, she was the first undergraduate to have her enrollment petition accepted to study water law at the University of Missouri School of Law. She’s also an accomplished musician, writer and poet.

Eric Fields, CPA, CGMA, SPHR, CRM, CIC
Eric Fields, CPA, CGMA, SPHR, CRM, CICPresident, The Summit Companies

Addressing the Overhead Myth

Many donors and organizations have historically evaluated nonprofits solely by calculating the percent of expenses that are spent on administrative, fundraising, and capital costs. However, those measures often fail to adequately communicate organizational impact and lead to poor long-term decisions. This workshop will discuss more effective ways for donors to evaluate nonprofit performance and for organizations to attract contributions.

Eric serves as President of the Summit Companies, a strategic consulting firm with offices in Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City, and Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the operations of Summit, Eric remains active as a strategic consultant, accountant, and corporate risk management consultant. Eric received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and International Business and his Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. In addition to being a CPA since 2005, Eric is also a Senior Professional of Human Resources, Chartered Global Management Accountant, and Certified Risk Manager, and is a National Faculty Member of the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors. Eric lives in Bristol with his wife Anita and locally serves as the Chair of the Board of Healing Hands Health Center and as a Board member of United Way of Bristol. Eric is also Past President of the State of Franklin Track Club and the Bristol Noon Rotary Club and serves as the Executive Director of Haitian Support Alliance.

LaDona Hall
LaDona HallCAC Clinical Services Director, Southwest Virginia Children’s Advocacy Center

Compassion Fatigue and Toxic Stress: Recognize, Ease, Prevent

People who work in helping professions often deal with toxic stress and develop compassion fatigue.  This can affect their ability to provide service and often leads to a change in job or profession.  This presentation is designed to provide definitions of compassion fatigue and toxic stress, their similarities and differences.  It will also help attendees recognize symptoms of these conditions in themselves so that they can address meeting their own needs or seek help.  Participants will learn about ways to ease the symptoms of compassion fatigue and toxic stress that may already be present.  They will also learn strategies to prevent further symptom development.

LaDonna Hall is the CAC Clinical Services Director at the Southwest Virginia Children’s Advocacy Center.  After receiving her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Kentucky, Ms. Hall became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  She is a certified trauma consultant.  She has completed over 550 post-licensure hours of training in trauma and its effects on children.  Ms. Hall has worked with children in therapeutic foster care and currently provides mental health treatment to traumatized children. She also participates in local multidisciplinary teams reviewing child abuse cases.  Ms. Hall has presented for various groups in Virginia and Kentucky in the areas of parenting attachment-challenged children, stress management, and how trauma affects children.  She is a certified facilitator of Stewards of Children, a child sexual abuse prevention program.

Marty Holliday
Marty HollidayExecutive Director, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Area Consortium Board

Sector Partnerships: Communities that Support Business

Sector partnerships are regional, industry-focused approaches to workforce and economic development that are proven to help job-seekers and workers obtain good jobs and businesses improve their bottom line. Participants will learn about this regional initiative and how they can engage with it.

Marty Holliday is the Executive Director for the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Area Consortium Board.  She has been with the Board since 2001.  Marty has overall strategic and operational responsibility for New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Area’s WIOA staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission.  She also monitors and reports on labor market trends, serves as the business and community liaison, and develops special projects and partnerships based on regional need.

Marty received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management – HR Management from Florida Southern College.  Her previous work experience consists of regional operations management, corporate training, HR, sales and marketing, and adult education.

Marty lives in Floyd, VA with her husband Carter.

Rebecca Holmes
Rebecca HolmesClinical Director, Highlands Community Services Board

Trauma and the Learning Environment

This presentation will define trauma and review its impact on the developing brain.  The resultant impact on learning and the learning environment will also be addressed through an overview of:

  • How memories are formed
  • How the brain develops
  • What is a trigger and how do they work?
  • The impact trauma has upon the brain and its functioning
  • Review of behaviors and needs
  • Brain responses: Biological, Psychological, Social
  • Trauma informed environments

Rebecca Holmes has almost 20 years of experience working in substance abuse and mental health services providing inpatient, in home, and outpatient services to individuals and families who are struggling with the impact of addiction, trauma, and mental health challenges.

Licensed as a Professional Counselor in Virginia, Rebecca is currently the Clinical Director for Highlands Community Services Board, serving Washington County and Bristol City, Virginia.  Also certified as a Substance Abuse Counselor in Virginia and having completed specialized training in EMDR trauma treatment techniques, Rebecca is an advocate for addressing the intergenerational impact that substance abuse has on the full family system and for implementing comprehensive services for effective intervention.  She is actively involved with many aspects regarding the overlap of the judicial and behavioral health service delivery systems, including the local drug court programs and domestic violence services.

Rebecca believes that providing quality services in a welcoming, empowering, and trauma-informed environment are key elements to helping individuals and families begin their journey toward recovery and work to become productive and contributing members of their families and communities.

Deborah Loggans
Deborah LoggansVolunteer Center Manager, United Way of Southwest Virginia

Bored Board? – How to engage your nonprofit’s most important volunteers

Many nonprofit agencies struggle with capacity building within their organizations. This includes lackluster board members who do not understand the complexity of their roles and responsibilities. This deficiency of knowledge often leads to hardships including financial and legal issues that affect the sustainability and reputation of the organization.

Debby serves as United Way’s Volunteer Center Manager where she connects volunteers to meaningful service opportunities.  She builds and enhances volunteer programs for companies and their employees and supports United Way agencies through volunteer management. She has worked in the nonprofit field for over 20 years as practitioner, trainer, and leader. Her nonprofit work began at People, Incorporated as Business Development Manager in the Financial Services program.  Most recently, she served as the Membership Manager for `Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network. Her volunteer work has included board service with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Bristol/Washington County Virginia and Town Square Center for the Arts in Glade Spring. She has participated on numerous volunteer projects and enjoys managing fund raising events. Debby resides in Washington County with her husband, one dog and too many cats to count.

Renee McDavid
Renee McDavidDisability Resource Coordinator, New River/Mt. Rogers Workforce Development Board
Kimber Simmons
Kimber SimmonsDisability Resource Coordinator, New River/Mt. Rogers Workforce Development Board

Access for ALL: How Can We Help You?

This workshop presents a proactive approach to providing universal access to the diversity of individuals your business comes into contact with every day and ways to support all customers, including those with disabilities. Participants will learn common sense approaches and techniques to provide ‘on the spot’ accommodations and increase their comfort level interacting with and providing services for employees and customers with disabilities.

Reneé McDavid is a Disability Resource Coordinator for the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board and serves the Mount Rogers region:  Bristol, the counties of Washington, Smyth, Wythe and Bland. She has been with the Workforce Board for 2 years and previously worked in Adult Education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and lives in Abingdon, Virginia.

Kimber Simmons works as a Disability Resource Coordinator for the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board. She is a certified Social Security Work Incentives Practitioner. In her work, she assists individuals with disabilities in accessing needed resources to return to the workforce and helps partner organizations assure that their services are universally accessible. Before coming to workforce development, she worked for 10 years in the field of economic development.

Susan Meacham, PhD, RD
Susan Meacham, PhD, RDProfessor of Nutrition/Preventive Medicine, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Virginia Campus (VCOM-VA)

What do we really know about the health of communities in coal-country?

The workshop will share the initial findings of VCOM studies of chronic disease in southwest Virginia compared to other underserved regions in Virginia.  The workshop will seek audience input on what can be done to improve health in underserved communities in light of the recent findings.

Susan Meacham is a full professor and Registered Dietitian at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in nutrition and preventive medicine. She grew up in southwest Virginia and is glad to have the opportunity to return and work in the area. She received her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in nutrition from Virginia Tech and a masters from the University of Georgia. She has worked in academia for over three decades as a faculty member and was the founding chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Since coming to VCOM in September of 2011 she has traveled and conducted community research with medical students in Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and rural Central Appalachia.

Her two children are doctoral students in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech and health economics at the University of Georgia and both are married and enjoying being new parents.

The following presentation is funded by ARIES, the Appalachian Research Initiative in Environmental Studies through the Virginia Coal and Energy Research Center at Virginia Tech.

Randle Reed
Randle ReedCommunity Impact Associate, United Way of Delaware

Success Pathways and Roads to Careers

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?  This workshop will address how adults can help students learn about meaningful work they can pursue as adults.  Randle will present on SPARC’s strategic plan as well as successes and hurdles to providing students with meaningful work based learning activities in their local communities.

Randle Reed is the Community Impact Associate for United Way of Delaware and an advocate for college and career readiness. He has been working in this area for more than seven years. He currently oversees the implementation of an online tool called Success Pathways and Roads to Careers (SPARC) that connects youth and teachers with eCoaches, employers and meaningful work based learning activities.

Molly Debevoise Rennie, MPA
Molly Debevoise Rennie, MPA Associate Director, The ALICE Project United Way of Northern New Jersey

ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Webinar

The United Way ALICE Project is a grassroots movement committed to strengthening communities by improving the lives of ALICE – our families, neighbors, and colleagues who work hard, earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care. ALICE workers are essential to our communities. ALICE is the child care educator who prepares your child for the future, the home health aides who care for your loved one, and the mechanic who fixes your car, ensuring you are safe out on the road.

Based on the overwhelming success of the research in identifying and communicating the needs of this vulnerable population, the United Way ALICE Project has grown from a pilot in Morris County, New Jersey in 2009, to the entire state of New Jersey in 2012, and now to the national stage with Reports in 16 states. The partners in this collaboration are working together to give ALICE a national voice. By sharing common language and understanding, stakeholders are better equipped to tackle crucial issues for ALICE and the wider community. Download the Reports at UnitedWayALICE.org.

We all have a vested interest in improving conditions for ALICE. When ALICE can’t afford the basics, the costs are high both for these families and for the wider community.

During this session we will discuss the demographics of the ALICE population, the measures developed to understand why so many households are struggling, who is currently involved, and the desired outcomes of this effort. We will also review how United Ways are using the data to develop innovative solutions, forge new partnerships, and stimulate a fresh, nonpartisan national dialogue about how to reverse the trend and improve conditions for this growing population of families living paycheck to paycheck.

Presenters will include Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D, Director, United Way ALICE Project, Molly Rennie, M.P.A., Associate Director, United Way ALICE Project and Jodi Miciak, Senior Manager, Community Impact

Karen Sorber
Karen SorberCo-founder and CEO, Micronic Technologies

One Company’s SWVA Economic Development Story

Micronic Technologies relocated to Wise County in 2014. Since then, Micronic has soared financially with grants and new investors; staffing from locally trained and educated residents; and developed its water purification technology for pilot studies. Micronic is working with Wise County in piloting drinking water, wastewater, and mine drainage treatment. Lee County is sponsoring a pilot for cleaning acid mine drainage where traditional technologies are limited in effectiveness. A USDA pilot is also planned in the agricultural market. Because the technology can clean virtually any contaminated water in one pass, the opportunities are ubiquitous. The future for Micronic in the region is extremely bright.

Karen will share her story of how Micronic landed in the region, the opportunities and challenges it has faced, and how the lives of new local employees have changed as a result of their employment. She also will seek new ideas from attendees on where and how Micronic can clean up more and more of the region’s contaminated waters and share how her style of management works for the typical Millennial!

Karen Sorber is Co-founder and CEO of Micronic Technologies (Micronic), producer of MicroDesalTM, a sustainable water purification technology.  With three patents under its belt, this woman-owned business has won $3M in federal and state grants to develop and commercialize its technology from the USDA, the US Navy, and the Virginia Tobacco Commission. MicroDesal™ is unique in that, in one pass without using membranes, filters or chemicals, it removes virtually all contaminants from wastewater, cleaning to potable water standards. The system is estimated to cost 1/10th of distillation at small scale, with 95% throughput, providing a significant positive impact on costs and sustainability for many industrial sectors, trumping existing methods and technologies. Under Karen’s leadership, Micronic competed successfully in many startup and tech accelerator programs. The company has enjoyed several regional, state, and national technology awards. Most recently, General Electric (GE) and Statoil of Norway announced Micronic as one among four companies chosen internationally as an Open Innovation Challenge Winner in reducing water usage in onshore oil and gas operations. Karen speaks nationally both on behalf of Micronic and the extraordinary business and cultural environment of Virginia’s southwest region.

Stephanie Muncy Surrett
Stephanie Muncy SurrettExecutive Director, Southwest Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence

National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)

The NCRC is accepted by more than 10,000 employers nationwide as a reliable way to verify individuals’ work skills.  The NCRC helps:

  • Job seekers and current employees improve their career outcomes
  • Students prepare to succeed in a variety of career pathways
  • Educators gain confidence that their students are ready for life after high school
  • Employers and human resources professionals improve their hiring, training, and promotion decisions
  • Workforce developers better assist those they serve, including displaced workers, in entering or reentering the job market
  • Economic developers provide evidence of a skilled workforce that helps attract business and industry
  • Industry associations have a foundation for building systems of stackable credentials
  • Policymakers and legislators gain a resource to create policy and legislative solutions to the nation’s economic and educational challenges

This panel presentation will include a prospect recruiter who can attest to the necessity of the credential with economic development prospects, the NCRC lead from Henry County that was the first in Virginia to achieve status, and a representative from Lee County who is championing NCRC in Southwest Virginia.  Stephanie Surrett and Rachel Patton will moderate the panel.

As Executive Director, Ms. Surrett provides leadership in developing, promoting and sustaining SVAM-CoE as a recognizable and highly valuable component in southwest Virginia’s economic and workforce development initiatives.

Prior to joining the SVAM-CoE, Ms. Surrett provided consulting and training services to businesses and organizations throughout the region through her own consulting firm.  Before managing her own consulting firm full time, she served as a project manager with the Virginia Department of Business Assistance (VDBA).  She served at the pleasure of the Governor in a special assignment during two years of her time with VDBA.  Her role was to coordinate state, regional and local efforts to implement a Regional Strategic Preparedness Plan.

Ms. Surrett holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Jones International University.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business Administration from University of Virginia’s College at Wise with honors.   She resides in Abingdon with her husband, Michael, and children, Presley and TJ.

 2016 Summit Sponsors

The Unite SWVA Leadership Summit sponsors help make this event possible. If you are interested in sponsoring, email Mary Anne at mholbrook@unitedwayswva.org to receive more information, including sponsorship levels and benefits.

The Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing, Inc.

 Register Now

 Registration closes October 9, 2016!

Registration fee is $25/person with a boxed lunch included.

Register Now

Thanks to the support of the generous sponsors listed above, Summit scholarships are available for volunteers.
For more information, email Leann at lvernon@unitedwayswva.org.


 If you have questions about the Unite SWVA Leadership Summit that are not answered on this site, please call us at 276.628.2160 or email info@unitedwayswva.org.