Published On: Fri, Oct 17th, 2014

Coulter Regional Leadership Academy at WCU announces members of 2014-15 cohort



CULLOWHEE – Nine Western North Carolinians will form the 2014-15 cohort of the Coulter Regional Leadership Academy, a regional leadership development initiative facilitated by Western Carolina University in partnership with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

Selected to participate are:  Ada Barber (Clay County), operations manager at The Copper Door in Hayesville; Bill Barker (Haywood County), owner of B. Barker Construction; Ethan Clapsaddle (Swain County), program specialist for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian; Benjamin Davis (Graham County), teacher at Robbinsville High School; Ryan Hanchett (Macon County), a news reporter with the Franklin Press; Brenna Irrer (Jackson County), outreach coordinator for the Wilderness Society’s Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards program; Ben Laseter (Macon County), restoration coordinator for the Land Trust of the Little Tennessee; Patience Snyder (Cherokee County), program associate for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort; Julie Townsend (Swain County), educator with Great Smoky Mountains Association; and Adam West (Qualla Boundary), vice president for operations at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.

The group will begin meeting monthly in late October to develop leadership skills in connection with identifying and pursuing ways to address social and economic challenges in the region.

Participants are selected through a process overseen by the Coulter Regional Leadership Academy Advisory Council and they must reside in the counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Macon, Jackson or Haywood, or the Qualla Boundary.

The academy was created by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and is administered through WCU to serve as a catalyst for collaborative regional leadership across the Western North Carolina area known as Region A, one of 16 multi-county planning regions in North Carolina. The pilot program began in October 2013.

Through engaging with regional leaders, examining case studies in regional leadership and professional growth opportunities, members work to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for regional diversity and dynamics. The activities also help participants to develop their own personal leadership skills, evaluate how decisions made by regional leaders and leadership bodies affect the regional community, and establish practices of sustainable, intentional and lifelong leadership development that contribute meaningfully to the region.

Juanita Wilson, director of the WNC Leadership Initiative Program in WCU’s Coulter Faculty Commons, and Sarah Graham, director of planning and development with the Southwestern Commission, facilitate the program.

The academy is named in honor of the late Myron “Barney” Coulter, who served as chancellor of WCU from 1984-1994 and as founding chair of the foundation. Updates about the academy are provided through the Cherokee One Feather.

Info: Wilson at