PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Hanna Gabbard has been named Digital Media Coordinator at Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR), the organization announced on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
For the past year, Gabbard has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for SOAR. She joined the organization in 2019 weeks after earning her undergraduate degree from Morehead State University in Political Science with an emphasis in Regional Analytics and Public Policy and a minor in Appalachian Studies.
Joshua Ball, associate executive director of SOAR, recalled his first meeting with Gabbard to interview her for the AmeriCorps VISTA position.
“I asked Hanna, ‘What do you know about our organization?’” said Ball. “She described our organization and our work in a remarkable way, and I knew then that we were getting an individual with an unwavering commitment to our work and our region.”
Gabbard, who is originally from the Perry County community of Buckhorn, worked extensively to build capacity around SOAR’s communication and digital media efforts during her time as a VISTA.
“I attended the first-ever SOAR Summit as a high-schooler, and I knew at that moment that I wanted to be part of the economic transition within Appalachia Kentucky and Appalachia as a whole,” said Gabbard. “SOAR was a resource that I often used while conducting research and writing essays in college. Being able to join the SOAR team and be part of this work, is a ‘dream job’ for me.”
In her new role, Hanna will guide SOAR’s communication and digital media reach. She’ll contribute and be responsible for updating content for SOAR’s various websites and work to compile compelling stories in a variety of formats to highlight the incredible work taking place across the region.”
Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR, described Gabbard as “a team player that understands the scope of our work and the profound impact it has in shaping the future we all desire.”
Gabbard concluded: “I grew up in awe of my surroundings, both the people and the communities are so special to me. I was always aware of the many issues that our region faced; however, I have always believed that we have the resources to overcome the challenges. For the first time in the history of Appalachia Kentucky, our people are working together to create a better future for generations to come, and I am very lucky to be part of the transition.”