Revitalizing communities discussion slated

WHEELING — At 7 p.m. Thursday, the WALS Foundation will host a “Jobs First Agenda” community discussion on Community Revitalization at the First State Capitol at 1413 Eoff Street in Wheeling. This program will explore how a Jobs First Agenda could help us rebuild and revitalize communities. Panelists will include West Virginia University public administration professor Chris Plein, Jamie Reese from Fourth Economy in Pittsburgh, and Ralph Baxter, candidate for United States Congress.

Plein, is an Eberly Professor of Outstanding Public Service at West Virginia University. He also studies public administration and policy and is co-author of “West Virginia Politics and Government.” He serves on the board of directors for AccessWV, which provides health coverage to those with high-risk health conditions. Plein has also been actively engaged in community development efforts in rural West Virginia. He is a founding member of the West Virginia Community Design Team which organizes teams of volunteers that visit and assist rural communities in identifying community development needs and opportunities. Plein holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Missouri – Columbia, a Master of Arts in political science from East Tennessee State University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Emory & Henry College.

Reese is a Pittsburgh-based community and economic development consultant with Fourth Economy, a consulting group that cultivates collaboration. Drawing on nearly a decade of experience in nonprofit and community development organizations, she believes in an asset-based approach to community revitalization and an evidence-based approach to public policy. She keeps a keen eye on emerging social mobility and economic inequality research, believing that the answers to today’s most pressing questions are out there if the right questions are asked. Jamie earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs and a BA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Baxter is a lawyer and businessman. He was born in Wetzel County and grew up in Follansbee and Weirton before moving to California in 1956. Baxter spent most of his career at Orrick, one of world’s largest law firms, serving as its Chairman from 1990 to 2013, and leading its evolution from its San Francisco origin to a global presence with more than 1,100 lawyers. Among the innovations Baxter initiated at Orrick was the creation of Orrick’s Global Operations Center in Wheeling, housing the firm’s infrastructure, to deliver client service better, faster, and less expensively, an unprecedented move when it was made, which became an industry standard. Baxter received a B.A. in history from Stanford University in 1968, an M.A. in education from Catholic University in 1970, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1974. Baxter has long been active in public service, particularly in West Virginia. Ralph is currently a candidate for West Virginia’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Jobs First Agenda program is part of a free, ongoing series of community discussions designed to explore a new economic narrative based on the fundamental idea that anyone who wants to work should have the right to a living wage job. From that starting point, each session in the series considers whether and how a “Jobs First Agenda” might impact a particular, challenging issue with local and national consequences. Each discussion begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings.

Future discussions in the Jobs First Agenda Series will include: Dec. 7: Revolutionizing Education, with Elizabeth Hofreuter, Head of School at Wheeling Country Day School, Sarah Koegler of the Ohio County School Board, and Glynis Board of West Virginia Public Radio; and Dec. 14: Deficits and a Simplified Tax Code with panelists to be announced.