Chris Robinson, VP of Workforce Development & Community Education

On November 19, 2020, Chris Robinson, VP of Workforce Development and Community Education, was one of 40 fellows who graduated as the inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, a leadership and economic development program sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Members of the Class of 2020, along with their friends and family, attended the virtual ceremony. ARC’s Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas, as well as Appalachian governors from Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee, provided congratulatory remarks for the fellows. The in-person graduation is set to take place in the summer of 2021 in Washington, D.C.

In the year leading up to graduation, Robinson participated in three in-person sessions and eight months of virtual programming, all of which included skill-building seminars with regional experts, peer-to-peer learning, and case study analysis. All aspects of the curriculum were designed to equip fellows with the knowledge and network needed to create positive change in their communities. Robinson was one of 5 fellows representing North Carolina in the inaugural class.

“I’m so proud of Chris Robinson for completing this prestigious program,” said Dr. Jeff Cox, Wilkes Community College President. “Not only had he learned a tremendous amount, but he has also broadened his professional network to 39 other impressive participants from several states within Appalachia. I am certain Chris and WCC will benefit from what he has learned and the relationships he has formed through this program.”

As a graduate of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, Robinson is now part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute Alumni Network. With each graduating class, the network will continue to grow, connect leaders, and facilitate continued learning and idea exchange across the 13 Appalachian states.

About the Appalachian Leadership Institute

The Appalachian Leadership Institute is a comprehensive leadership and economic development training opportunity for people who live and/or work in Appalachia and are passionate about helping their communities thrive. Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellows participate in an extensive training curriculum developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy; Tuskegee University; and Collective Impact.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.