LeAnn Sutton Joins 2020-2021 Class of Appalachian Leadership Institute

It’s an exclusive group, and White Pine resident LeAnn Sutton has been tapped to be a part of it.

As Key Accounts Coordinator for AEC, Sutton has recently been named by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as a 2020-2021 Appalachian Leadership Institute (ALI) Fellow.

Every year, more than one hundred highly-qualified individuals apply to be a part of the nine-month program, an intensive regional leadership training experience designed to develop community capacity and strengthen economic growth by capitalizing on natural and cultural assets. After completing a rigorous application process, only five Tennesseans were selected for this year’s ALI class—which features professionals from a variety of public and private sectors, including civil service, finance, healthcare, tourism, etc.

AEC General Manager Greg Williams says that Sutton’s economic development qualifications will make her an outstanding participant in the ALI program: “LeAnn’s focus here at AEC has been on developing close working relationships with our large commercial and industrial accounts in support of jobs in our community. She also plays an essential role in forging connections with local, State, and Federal agencies and officials. Her involvement with the ALI program will no doubt lead to greater effectiveness in leveraging resources that will make our part of East Tennessee stronger and better positioned for long-term economic growth.”

Due to the pandemic, this year’s ALI training will transition from field visits and in-person seminars to online working sessions in 2020 and in-person trainings are scheduled to resume in 2021. From mid-October through July 2021, participants will be engaged in skill-building, peer-to-peer learning, and case study analysis. Topics include:

  • Designing economic development project proposals and preparing grant applications
  • Identifying resources and integrating community assets into economic development strategies
  • Creating coalitions and locating/accessing investment capital with which to drive growth

Sutton says she is excited about the opportunity to work on issues that will impact the area where she was born and raised. “The Appalachian Leadership Institute’s mission is something I believe in,” she says. “It will be very fulfilling to bring my skills to bear on problems our communities often experience because they lack the financial resources and/or expertise to compete with locations that have not faced the kinds of challenges that rural communities do. I’ll be working hand-in-hand with a group of several dozen peers who share the same passion as I do for making things better through sustainable economic development. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ll be able to reach out directly to these committed professionals who have achieved success despite experiencing many of the same challenges that we have, right here in AEC’s service area. I’ll have access to their strategies and can work to bring those effective techniques and initiatives back to our communities.”

The ARC is an economic development agency of the Federal government and 13 State governments throughout Appalachia, seeking partnerships to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the rest of the nation.