The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) staff members work with community partners and board members to shape the strategic vision, carry out organizational policies and programs, manage day-to-day operations, communicate with funders, provide budgetary information, and support fundraising activities and public relations.
Beginning in February of 2015, Joe joined the regional development team as the Director of Business Retention and Expansion. In December 2017, Joe was promoted to Executive Director and continues to serve in that capacity. Joe works to develop and circulate capital, strengthen the resources available to local businesses, and increase the region’s competitiveness for business recruitment. As the NRGRDA region is not centered on a single municipality or location, Joe takes a truly regional approach to allocate resource across traditional borders.
Joe’s primary focus and experience is in lending. Not only has he worked with commercial banks, but also with alternative lenders such as Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF). During his time at NCIF, he sharpened his ability to serve triple bottom line businesses with sustainable development lending and investing. It’s just that local economic development mindset that helps him serve the New River Gorge region of West Virginia with the NRGRDA.
Born and raised in Welch, WV, Jina was instilled with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. After starting her own business at 16 years old, Jina was the first student to receive the McKelvey Foundation Entrepreneurial Scholarship during their junior year of high school.
After graduating from Concord University in 2009 with a B.S. in Recreation and Tourism Management with an emphasis in Event Planning & Promotions, Jina returned home to assist her family in expanding the only non-profit food pantry in McDowell County. While there, Jina served as Trust Systems Administrator for 7 years at MCNB Bank and Trust Company.
In 2016, Jina followed the urge to leave the finance industry to fulfill her gut and help her community develop to its fullest potential. Working as Chief Business Officer with Coalfield Development, Jina worked closely with WV leaders and entrepreneurs to strengthen the substantiality of social enterprises across Appalachia. While there, Jina’s work in capital access and small business development organically crossed paths with NRGRDA and their great work being done in Southern WV.
In February 2019, Jina officially joined the NRGRDA as Director of Business Development. Combining her previous community development skills with her background in finance and social enterprise will allow her to provide the New River Gorge region with resources and expertise needed to grow the thriving economy of Southern WV.
Born and raised in historic Fayetteville WV, Lisa grew up in the woods and waters of the New River Gorge. As a teen, she was introduced to whitewater rafting and then, while attending college, worked for several outfitters. Seeing the positive impact tourism was making on her sleepy hometown encouraged her to stay in tourism – and in Southern West Virginia.
1997 found Lisa working in the rafting industry as an office manager but had discovered her true passion was for marketing. She then looked to the hotel industry and worked several years as a Sales & Marketing Director, and then Director of Convention Sales & Services where she honed her skills.
In 2001 she was lured back to the outdoor industry by becoming Marketing Director for a premier multi-sport outdoor adventure resort where she developed and led award winning marketing campaigns and extensive public / media relations initiatives for ten years. After a company merger and restructuring of the resort, Lisa became Marketing Director for an off-road adventure park and then transitioned to work for the landowner as a Residential & Business Lease Administrator.
In October 2019, Lisa joined the regional development team as the Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives. Her eclectic mix of skills in marketing and public relations combined with her background in tourism management and property leasing allows her to lend her skills and talents to communicate the NRGRDA region’s successes, opportunities, and programs to stakeholders, media, and the general public.
At the HIVE, our mission is to help aspiring and existing business owners launch and grow successful businesses in the Mountain State. Our team of advisors bring one-on-one assistance and advanced technology capabilities to entrepreneurs in Southern West Virginia, equipping them with the tools they need to be successful including Business Advising, Technical Assistance and access to our Maker Space.
Judy has been the director of the WV Hive since November 2017. As the Hive director, Judy focuses on establishing partnerships and alliances that provide increased access to resources for businesses and entrepreneurs. She works with her team of business advisors, support network, and funders to bring about more effective and efficient means through which regional entrepreneurs can operate successful establishments. Prior to her present position, Judy served as a WV Hive Regional Business Advisor. Before joining the WV Hive she was employed as an Assistant Director at West Virginia University’s National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium. There, Judy’s main roles and responsibilities included providing leadership in areas of creative direction, media relations, and management of the communications, marketing, and education and outreach efforts of the organization. Judy has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from American Intercontinental University and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University.
Judy also served as the Principal Investigator/Project Coordinator of numerous projects and grants and assisted in the development of numerous workshop materials, authored and co-authored many articles for industry newsletters and publications, and spoke at numerous conferences and workshops.
Ruthana brings decades of experience in business and public administration to her role as Regional Business Advisor for the WV Hive. She has worked in small businesses, large corporations, nonprofits, and local governments and has first-hand knowledge of the entrepreneurial experience. Ruthana served as Marketing Director for Sunrise Museum in Charleston, WV as it transitioned into its new facilities as the Avampato Discovery Museum at the Clay Center, creating and executing successful strategies for branding, public relations, and advertising.
As Federal Projects Administrator for the City of Parkersburg, Ruthana worked with local residents, businesses, and agencies to manage more than $1.5M annually on community and economic development initiatives. She is experienced in project management, development of organizational policy and procedure, marketing and public relations, and financial management. She is excited to help startups in southern West Virginia prepare to face today’s challenging marketplace with a competitive edge. Ruthana holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of Charleston as well as a Masters of Public Administration from West Virginia University.
Prior to moving to West Virginia in 2015, Anna Marie worked with small farmers and the Robeson County Farmers Market in North Carolina to grow their businesses through branding, marketing, customer outreach, and understanding regulations and trends in both the food and agricultural industries. As the owner of a small poultry farm and crafting business, she has had the unique opportunity to experience and overcome challenges small and growing businesses may encounter.
Anna Marie believes in helping businesses construct simple, maintainable business routines and develop their passion to better create a niche product or service customers identify with through branding and marketing. She has also worked with the NC Cooperative Extension to conduct workshops on marketing and food safety. While running her own business she developed and implemented unique ideas to increase sales and expand community presence. Anna Marie earned a Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix.
A California native, Sandy relocated to West Virginia in late 2018. Prior to moving to WV, she worked for the Emergency Management Department for her residential county. As an Analyst for the Emergency Management Department, Sandy was responsible for tracking all budgets and projects and developing procedures for internal procurement processes and tracking multiple grant budgets for the Preparedness Division exceeding over $8.5 million. Sandy has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Riverside and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix.
Raised in Tennessee, Yana has relocated to West Virginia very recently to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the WV Hive Network. Prior to moving to West Virginia, she worked on two political campaigns. Yana worked as an intern for a Tennessee governor’s race in the Summer of 2018 and as a Field Director in the Fall of 2018. While Yana worked, she was responsible for community outreach and marketing, event planning, and support for the campaign team. As Field Director, she was responsible for implementing a recruiting strategy for community outreach and daily management of office operations. Yana believes in supporting the success of small businesses in West Virginia and the impact this has on the Appalachian community. She graduated in May of 2018 from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and minors in Marketing and International Affairs.