10 minutes, two slides, and an unforgettable topic ideas for you to hear and learn from.
TenTalk is intended to allow those passionate about the region and specific topics a chance to take the main stage inside the Corbin Arena.
Straight to the Point
Meet the speakers of the 2023 SOAR Summit TenTalk:
Scott Surber is the Broadband Technology Liaison for The Center for Rural Development. He works with local government officials, fiberboards, Area Development Districts, and other organizations in an effort to see improved broadband throughout The Center’s 45 county service territory.
Amber Decker is the Youth Programs Coordinator/Community Liaison for The Center for Rural Development. She focuses on helping create a foundation of success for youth in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Her background is in Youth Development and Project Management. She lives in Bronston Kentucky with her partner Travis and their sons Bryson and Townes.
Dr. Beth Kelly
Beth Kelly serves as Research Director at Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), where she joined as a Research Analyst in 2019. She focuses her research on critical and timely questions related to the Commonwealth that leverage the breadth of our data sources.
As Research Director, Dr. Kelly is responsible for the overall planning of all reports and analyses produced by KYSTATS. Prior to her employment with KYSTATS, Dr. Kelly was a mathematics professor at Berea College. She is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Indiana University with a BA in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Washington.
Erik Hubbard is the Executive Director of Backroads of Appalachia. Growing up in Eolia, KY in Letcher County, Erik loved writing his motorbike through the beautiful backroads of Eastern KY as a teenager. Son of a paralyzed coal miner, his Dad moved him to TN at age 17 so he’d have more opportunities.
Erik joined the Navy, saw the world, earned his degree in Civil Engineering, and started working for the Railroad; but, he always wanted to find a way to return to Eastern Kentucky. Erik loves motorcycles and motorsports so over the past 10 years he has worked with state and local tourism agencies to map, trademark, and promote motorsports trails encouraging visitors to experience some of the most beautiful roads in Appalachia.
In 2020, he officially helped found Backroads of Appalachia, a non-profit organization with a passion and empathy for the Appalachian region driving economic development, job training, and opportunity to the poverty-stricken areas of Appalachia through tourism and motorsports.
Josh Blanton is the Plant Manager of Vesuvius USA, a global supplier to the steel industry. He is also currently serving his second term as City Commissioner in Ashland, Kentucky. As the fourth generation of his family to work for a major steelmaker in Ashland which closed unexpectedly in 2016, Josh offers a unique perspective on the changing dynamics of economic development and revitalization in eastern Kentucky. While examining the evolution of manufacturing and business trends throughout the state and country, Josh will also share insights about how the team in Ashland is creating momentum, excitement, and progress.
Kyle Robinson is the CEO of Print My Threads. Print My Threads is a Kentucky-based apparel decoration company that serves clients throughout Appalachia. One of the guiding principles at Print My Threads has been “never underestimate the power of a t-shirt.”
Over the last 15 years, Print My Threads has partnered with Kentucky businesses and nonprofits to use t-shirts as a force for good. They help their clients use custom apparel to promote their brands, grow their businesses, and raise money for their causes.
Hilda Legg has dedicated her career of over 40 years to Rural Economic Development, with an emphasis on the build-out of true broadband, economic opportunities, and education for the families who live in rural communities across the country.
She has served under four United States Presidents in efforts to enhance the economic and educational opportunities for rural residents and to strengthen agriculture-driven economies to sustain a strong and healthy rural America. Ms. Legg brings vast knowledge and a wide variety of skills from experience in public, non-profit, and private industries. She currently works as a Consultant, for Legg Strategies, in Lexington, KY.
Mark W. Ryles
In 1993 he became Director of Facilities Management for the Kentucky Department of Education, serving 17 years. While Director, he facilitated the replacement and reconstruction of over 65% of Kentucky’s K-12 infrastructure. He was instrumental in the development of energy-efficient schools, and wireless technology systems.
He is currently a school facility consultant for the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative.
Mark is married with 3 children and 6 grandchildren.
Whitney Allen is a lifelong native of Appalachia. Raised in Laurel County, she graduated from Georgetown College with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Health Science.
She worked at CHI Saint Joseph Hospital in London out of college and obtained her EMS training and certification. She then joined the team at Grace Health, a local Federally Qualified Health Center, establishing their outreach program and managing marketing and communication efforts. Whitney went on to a state-level position at the Kentucky Primary Care Association, leading advocacy efforts for rural health clinics and managing multiple contracts.
Whitney joined the United Healthcare team in 2019 and has held multiple positions including Community Engagement Manager, Director of Enrollee Services, and a national role serving as a consultant for Community Strategy. Whitney has recently re-joined the local KY team at United Healthcare serving as the Director of Clinical Quality. Whitney lives in London with her husband, two children, black lab Piper, and a host of farm animals.
David York is originally from Jackson County, Kentucky, and has a background in middle and high school public education. Some of the most powerful experiences he’s ever had involve helping someone gain the tools they need to pursue their dreams and helping them use those tools to better themselves and their communities. Technology gives people these tools and allows people to continue this cycle of growth. He’s proud to help grow the pool of tech talent in Kentucky with Code Kentucky, and give people what they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world!
Meghan Sandfoss is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Broadband Development, a role to which she was appointed in September 2022 by Governor Andy Beshear. In this role, she oversees planning and implementation of federal funding for the deployment of broadband infrastructure totaling over $1.4 billion. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a master’s degree in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Sandfoss has nearly 20 years of experience in government and public administration. She previously held a senior leadership position at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, where she oversaw a variety of local, state, and federal programs in the areas of transportation planning, infrastructure development, comprehensive planning, and community and economic development. She resides in Covington, Kentucky with her husband and 2 children.
Ben Ledo is the Vice President of Enterprise Sales at MakeMyMove. In this role, he helps communities and community leaders unlock the power within to market themselves, and attract and recruit new citizens, primarily those with remote jobs.
Ben started his career in state government spending 5 years in the Governor’s Office during the Mitch Daniels Administration. Following his time in public service, Ben joined the small but growing company of Angie’s List. Spending 9 years in numerous leadership capacities, he helped grow Angie’s List into a public company that employed over 2,500 people in Indianapolis. Following the acquisition of Angie’s List by AIC, Ben took a role in expanding a family-owned and operated trucking and logistics company from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis until he joined the team at MakeMyMove.
Ben has a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Indiana University. He and his wife live in Indianapolis and are the proud parents of three young boys.
Chuck is a Senior Vice President for All Points Broadband leading industry engagement, new fiber builds, and M&A activities. Prior to joining All Points, Chuck co-founded and spent 13 years growing Shelby Broadband, a highly successful hybrid-fiber-wireless company acquired by All Points in 2018. Chuck is a recognized industry leader and served for 5 years as the Chairman of the Board of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association. In the past 24 months, All Points was awarded more than $325M in state funding, achieved $180M in partner funding, and an additional investment through Searchlight Capital Partners and Simple Broadband to build fiber networks in 21 counties across Virginia and 3 counties in Kentucky.
Marcie Campbell received her Master’s in Social Science Administration from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Campbell worked as a Master’s level clinician with children diagnosed with autism as well as being an Executive Director of a behavioral health agency serving families in rural Pennsylvania. Campbell has worked with the One Senior Care family since 2016, which includes operations experience as a Center Manager as well as working as a Master’s Level Social Worker on the PACE Interdisciplinary team of LIFE – Northwestern Pennsylvania (NWPA). Campbell held the position of Director of the Outreach and Intake team of LIFE-NWPA prior to my current role as Vice President of Marketing & Intake for One Senior Care. Campbell looks forward to serving the senior population in Eastern Kentucky through our Mountain View PACE program of One Senior Care.
Amanda Clark is an External Affairs Manager at Kentucky Power. Before joining Kentucky Power, she was the Vice President of Operations for Ashland Alliance.
Amanda is a Commissioner in the City of Ashland. Amanda serves on the executive board for TENCO Workforce Development. She is the vice-chair for Visit Ashland. Amanda is an executive board member for CMH 23. She also serves on the advisory committees for the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center.
Amanda serves on the Board of the Kentucky Association for Economic Development. She is an Appalachian Regional Commission Appalachian Leadership Institute and Leadership Kentucky Alumnus.
Ms. Leigh Latherow was raised in Harlan, Kentucky, and has a passion for the people of Appalachia. She is an attorney with VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP, in Ashland, with a focus on employment law, and is licensed in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. She has had two appearances before the Supreme Court of the United States. She has the highest peer rating standard of AV-Preeminent and has been selected as a Kentucky Super Lawyer for 7 years. She has served on a number of non-profit boards, is married to her best friend, David, and has three successful children.
Dr. Jonathan Shores
Dr. Shores has spent over two-thirds of his life working in higher education and has experience helping over 200 collegiate institutions reach record levels of enrollment, working both with and directly at numerous colleges. At the University of the Cumberlands, he serves as the Chief Enrollment Officer and Executive Vice President. Prior to joining the team at the University of the Cumberlands, he served as a Senior Vice President at a higher education consulting firm and also previously worked at three different private colleges, most recently as Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing.
He is a proud graduate of Campbell University’s Lundy-Fetterman School of Business with a Bachelor’s degree in Trust and Wealth Management and an MBA in Marketing. Additionally, he has an earned Ph.D. while his dissertation focused on the most effective marketing and recruiting strategies to recruit prospective students to private colleges.
Dr. Shores is a proud veteran of the United States Air Force, where he still serves in a reserve component as a Chief Master Sergeant, the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force. In the Air Force, he serves as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Air Mobility Command 4-star General at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. He has been to over 40 countries and has deployed and/or assisted in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Joint Forge, and Operation Coronet Oak.
Jochai Ben-Avie is the Co-Founder and CEO of Connect Humanity, a nonprofit fund to accelerate digital equity. He is also a Truman National Security Fellow, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s DFR Lab, a WEF Global Shaper, and a Code for Science & Society Board Member. He was previously Mozilla’s Head of International Public Policy and led the Firefox maker’s open-source funding arm, where he spearheaded Mozilla’s work on connectivity around the world. Before Mozilla, he was the inaugural Policy Director at Access Now, which under his leadership grew to become one of the largest global digital rights organizations.
Terry Gray is an accomplished professional in the field of higher education, with a passion for empowering students and promoting community development. Terry earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics from Centre College and his Masters in Educational Leadership from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU).
Currently residing in Manchester, KY, Terry is the Senior Director of Regional Programming and Regional Stewardship at Eastern Kentucky University, a position he has held since July 2003. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing a wide range of programs and initiatives that promote educational and economic development throughout the region, including EKU’s Corbin and Manchester Regional Campuses. Terry’s dedication to the region earned him the 2023 President’s Excellence in Engagement Award. EKU also honored Terry with the inaugural Distinguished Service Award in 2021.
Brad Kilbey is the CEO of Accelecom, bringing over 25 years of leadership experience in the technology sector. With a strong background in building and scaling companies, Brad has held executive and leadership positions at Zayo Group, Windstream Communications, Level 3 Communications, and MCI Communications. Throughout his career, he has led sales, business development, marketing, product, finance, and operations organizations.
Originally from Canada, Brad and his family have lived in the Washington DC area for the past 25 years (Brad’s wife is an Educator, his oldest son attends the University of Kentucky, and his youngest son is a rising Senior in High School). Brad completed his undergraduate at Ohio University, his Master of Business Administration at Marymount University, and participated in Executive Development studies at the University of Denver.
Brad is deeply passionate about volunteering and actively supports organizations dedicated to Veterans, First Responders, and their families.
Before becoming Chief Operating Officer at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Allison Adams was the Public Health Director for the Buffalo Trace District Health Department. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and is also a registered nurse. Additionally, Adams served as president of the Kentucky Health Department Association and led a joint effort for public health transformation legislation. In her current role, she works to affect policy and programs to create widespread change for improved health in Kentucky.
James O. Wilson
Assistant Regional Director of the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional Office, James O. Wilson joined United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in January of 1989. He received his BS Degree in Zoology from Howard University in 1984 and an MS Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from University of Michigan in 1987.
In 2002, Mr. Wilson became a TC 1600 Supervisory Patent Examiner and, in 2007, he served as a managerial Detailee in the Office of the Commissioner for Patents. Mr. Wilson has also served as the Acting Director of the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional Office, Oct. 2018-September of 2019.
Scott Koloms has passionately advocated for a socially conscious and impact-driven business movement in Kentucky for the last several years. He dreams of Kentucky having the strongest, most effective group of for-profit social and environmental enterprises in the country. Over the last few years, Koloms played a pivotal role in the passage of the Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) legislation in Kentucky. As President and owner of Facilities Management Services (FMS), PBC, Koloms also led FMS to become the first public benefit corporation in Kentucky and the first janitorial services company in the world to become a certified B Corp. Most recently, Koloms founded Canopy, a nonprofit organization aiming to make Kentucky first in Good Business. Its goal is to create a strong network of socially conscious and impact-driven businesses that work to make lives better in Kentucky.
Matt Brown serves as President of Addiction Recovery Care Healthcare. He oversees the 1,000+ employee organization that operates a network of more than 30 addiction treatment facilities across 23 Kentucky counties. He has been involved in the development of ARC’s program expansion since May 2015, during which ARC has opened well over 20 programs.
Matt has a deep and personal understanding of addiction and the recovery process. He began his recovery journey in May 2014 after an 18-year battle with addiction. Like many of ARC’s employees and management, he personally received long-term care from the company.
Matt holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Kentucky in Health Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the UK. Prior to coming to ARC, had a 12-year career practicing in the field of physical therapy. He helped launch and operate several successful physical therapy start-ups, is co-founder and board chair of Rise Above (a community-oriented non-profit), and founded The Table Church in Louisa, KY.
Matt and his wife Summer, an elementary school assistant principal, live in Louisa, KY, and are committed to seeing people and families come out of the cycles and traumas of addiction. They know that people can live a life of purpose and destiny.
Dr. George Koob
George F. Koob, Ph.D., is an internationally-recognized expert on alcohol and stress, and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction. He is the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), where he provides leadership in the national effort to reduce the public health burden associated with alcohol misuse. As NIAAA Director, Dr. Koob oversees a broad portfolio of alcohol research ranging from basic science to epidemiology, diagnostics, prevention, and treatment.
Dr. Koob is the recipient of many prestigious honors and awards for his research, mentorship, and international scientific collaboration. In 2018 Dr. Koob received the E.M. Jellinek Memorial Award for his outstanding contributions to understanding the behavioral course of addiction. In 2017 Dr. Koob was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). In 2016 the government of France awarded Dr. Koob with the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) for developing scientific collaborations between France and the United States.
In addition, Dr. Koob previously received the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Seixas Award for extraordinary service in advancing alcohol research; the RSA Distinguished Investigator Award; the RSA Marlatt Mentorship Award; the Daniel Efron Award for excellence in basic research and the Axelrod Mentorship Award, both from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology; the NIAAA Mark Keller Award for his lifetime contributions to our understanding of the neurobiology of alcohol use disorder; and an international prize in the field of neuronal plasticity awarded by La Fondation Ipsen.
About the Summit
The SOAR Summit is Appalachia’s premier convening. It attracts over 1,400 attendees and more than 100 exhibitors. The Summit returns to Corbin this year. The city hosted the 2021 SOAR Summit.
Attendees can network, build relationships, and participate in programming relevant to moving the region forward. Registration is open and tickets are $75. This includes two full days of programming, breakfast, and lunch on both days, the Summit Exhibit Hall, and the SOAR Summit Reception, presented by Whitaker Bank, on the evening of October 3 in downtown Corbin.
Buy your tickets now to witness of the first-ever TenTalk at the 2023 SOAR Summit, you can buy your ticket(s) HERE.