Shannon R. Blevins, Class of 2008
Shannon R. Blevins
Associate Vice Chancellor of Economic Development and Strategic Initiatives, The University of Virginia's College at Wise
What is new and exciting with you now or since your time with Lead Virginia?
Since 2008, the UVa-Wise Office of Economic Development has grown to include the Healthy Appalachia Institute, the UVa-Wise Career Planning and Discovery Office, The Oxbow Center for Technology and Innovation and The Nest, a student entrepreneurship space. UVa-Wise is not only a driver of the region’s economy just by nature of our presence in Southwest Virginia, but also as a leader in the region’s economic development efforts.
How did Lead Virginia shape you as a leader?
Prior to Lead Virginia, I had some understanding of the different regions of the Commonwealth, but I knew very little about the true challenges and opportunities that existed outside of my home region. Additionally, I have always appreciated and nurtured relationships with all individuals I encounter, but Lead Virginia helped me understand the additional value of social capital -- a concept I had not actually been exposed to before the program.
Since Lead Virginia, how have you put your social capital to work?
Lead VA gave me the opportunity of meeting new people from outside my home region and in different fields of work. I have called upon many classmates with questions, needs for information as well as advice. Expanding my network of colleagues with various subject matter expertise was one of the most valuable outcomes of my Lead VA experience!
What were your expectations of Lead Virginia prior to beginning the program? Did the program exceed or meet your expectations?
I expected to travel around the Commonwealth and tour each region. I did not expect to build such strong relationships with classmates. That was a pleasant surprise!
What was your biggest takeaway or lesson learned from Lead Virginia that continues to stick with you today?
The value of relationships!