On July 15, 2021, Mark Stevans, Director of Special Project, with the First Tennessee Development District was one of 38 fellows who graduated from the Appalachian Leadership Institute, a leadership and economic development program sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Members of the Class of 2021, along with their friends and family, attended the ceremony - 24 in-person in Washington, DC, and 14 virtually.
“We congratulate the 2021 class of Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows. In addition to network-building, the Fellows have been hard at work over the last nine months building skills needed to help their communities thrive,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin.
"The Appalachian Leadership Institute gives local leaders the tools to make their communities stronger and more resilient," said ARC States’ Co-Chair, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. "Congratulations to the 38 graduating fellows.” In the nine months leading up to graduation, Stevans participated in six virtual sessions over nine months, all of which included skill-building seminars with regional experts, peer-to-peer learning, and case study analysis. All aspects of the curriculum were designed to equip fellows with the knowledge and network needed to create positive change in their communities. Stevans was one of five fellows representing Tennessee in the class.
When asked what the Appalachian Leadership Institute meant to him, Stevans had this to say, “I will carry the experiences from this fellowship with me for the rest of my life. As we moved from one session to the next and I learned more about the caliber of my fellow cohort members, I was humbled by the opportunity and tried to absorb as much knowledge from them as I could.” He went on to say “The connections forged through ALI mean that our region now has access to this growing network of experts who face the same challenges and are working to capitalize on the same opportunities we are.”