CHARLESTON -– Members of the 2008 Leadership West Virginia class visited the New River region for the fourth of eight leadership sessions that are taking place throughout the state during 2008.

The 47 class members convened at The Resort at Glade Springs and other locations in the region from June 19-20. Members of the class are receiving broad-based education on critical topics and, at the same time, are getting opportunities to hone their leadership skills. The June topic/theme is the Chesapeake Energy Corporation Tourism Session.

"I am very pleased that Chesapeake Energy is the Session Partner for this two-day adventure," said Pam Farris, Executive Director of Leadership West Virginia. "The support provided by Chesapeake will help to make this session even more dynamic and exciting for the class members."

The class members tested their leadership and team-building skills Thursday by participating in several outdoor activities in the Fayetteville area, including the ropes course and ziplining through the mountains. Passages to Adventure, a West Virginia-based company that specializes in outdoor activities, led the class members in this unique learning and team-building experience. Following this, the class went to Anstead to visit Blue Smoke Salsa.

The Tourism Session continued Friday at Glade Springs with the leadership development component of the program. During each session, the class members were provided with a different a leadership training activity. Lydotta Taylor, President & CEO of the EdVenture Group, provided a training session focused on Attitude and Influence ... Keys to Effective Leadership. Taylor is a graduate of the Leadership West Virgin class of 2000.

"This workshop will allow the class to gain a better perspective of how to become effective leaders," Farris said.

The class then heard presentations from a number of tourism professionals from around the state, including Eric Pories, Focus Intent, LLC; Jeffrey Lusk, Hatfield-McCoy Trails; and Cindy Dragan, Chairperson of Bridge Day. Both Lusk and Dragan are graduates of the program.

Other events included a discussion with David Arnold, Managing Director of Class VI River Runners and a member of the West Virginia Tourism Commission.

"Tourism is a vital component to the continuing growth and economic diversification of our state, and the class will have an excellent opportunity to hear from a variety of leaders from the state's tourism industry," added Farris.

Financial support for the Tourism leadership session was provided by Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Focus Intent, LLC, Mountain State University, New River CVB, Passages to Adventure, and the Southern W.Va. CVB.

This year's lead sponsors and Title Partners for the 2008 Leadership West Virginia program are the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) and Chesapeake Energy Corporation. The commitment from RCBI and Chesapeake Energy throughout this year is helping to provide Leadership West Virginia with the added financial support needed to run an even more successful program.

Leadership West Virginia is a statewide education and leadership development program affiliated with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Supported by tuition and private and corporate contributions, the program aims to identify emerging leaders throughout West Virginia and enhance their knowledge of not only the challenges facing the state, but also of the diversity and the unique attributes that the Mountain State possesses. "Graduates take away an understanding of the state, but most importantly the program serves as an extensive network of professionals who can put their collective energy together to make the state a better place for business and for residents," said Farris. "The cultivation of new leadership is of utmost importance to the future of West Virginia's prosperity and progress."

Leadership West Virginia (www.leadershipwv.org) is committed to developing and motivating a cross-section of leaders who will use their talents and abilities to inspire others and to foster a new spirit of energy, enthusiasm and vitality throughout the state. To date, more than 700 individuals have participated and have been graduated as part of the Leadership West Virginia program.

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