Leadership in Appalachia Case Study: Letcher County KY

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Letcher County Leadership Case Study

Fahe released a case study in November entitled “Weaving Appalachia-Leadership in Letcher County.” The report documents the importance of leadership in the Fahe Network and how our local leaders are woven into their communities in an impactful way extending well beyond their professional duties.

While “Weaving Appalachia” focuses on Seth Long, Executive Director of Fahe Member H.O.M.E.S., his story represents how local leaders across the Fahe Network strengthen and support their entire community because of their deep integration in civil society. These leaders volunteer, serve on local boards, make public investments, and own local businesses.  Their connectivity to their communities leverages existing resources to maximize impact at the local level. In the Fall 2020 Stanford Social Innovation Review, authors Angela Jackson, John Kania, and Tulaine Montgomery introduce the term ‘Proximate Leaders.’ This is defined as someone who has a meaningful relationship with groups whose identity, experience, or community are systemically stereotyped, feared, dismissed, or marginalized, which is exemplified by the Fahe leadership model.

Local leaders in Appalachia are one of our greatest assets, yet leaders in Appalachia and other persistent poverty areas are often passed over for funding and investment opportunities because of a perceived notion they are a riskier investment than leaders in urban areas.  This perceived risk arises from a lack of experience working in rural places and has created a perception that area of persistent poverty lack capacity to handle investments and move capital.

As a backbone organization, Fahe is unique in our ability to bring and effectively deploy capital to a tremendously underserved region while centering the work of these local leaders and community needs. Fahe’s investment in Membership organizations and local leaders, like H.O.M.E.S. and Long, keeps such leaders in place while they do the hard work of nurturing relationships and lifting up our underserved places. Fahe focuses on increasing our support for local leaders, and highlighting the potential to transform places through investment in people, organizations, and places.

“Weaving Appalachia” is the first of a series of case studies by Fahe which documents the work of Members and partners throughout Appalachia. Subscribe to Fahe to stay informed on current and future projects, including future case studies.  

Read the Executive Summary

Read the full “Weaving Appalachia” case study

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