About

About

West Virginia Roundtable

The West Virginia Roundtable was founded in 1984 with the focus of uniting state leaders and playing a meaningful role in West Virginia business and government. Our members not only hail from the state’s leading companies, but also are community members who care about growth and prosperity within West Virginia. We want to see our state flourish and to do so, we unite, take action and lead.

To achieve our mission the Roundtable:
  • Supports initiatives that identify significant public policy challenges.
  • Researches relevant issues and provides data, information and analysis.
  • Provides communication and forums encouraging an open and creative exchange of ideas impacting public policy issues.
  • Provides networking that builds and maintains relationships among members, the business community and various interest groups.

Our Initiatives

The Roundtable dedicates the majority of our focus to the initiatives we believe are most impactful to the future of West Virginia.

Energy

West Virginia has long been a leading producer of energy for the United States as our rich reserves of coal, oil and natural gas continue to serve as a reliable resource. As West Virginia’s industry leaders, we recognize that we must show support for our energy producers and the downstream opportunities they provide.

Recent advancements in drilling techniques, along with the continued efforts to improve infrastructure through pipelines, underground storage hubs and more will benefit the entire region -- producing jobs, boosting economic development and increasing manufacturing opportunities.

The Roundtable supports the development of the Appalachian Storage Hub which would provide for processing, storage, transportation and marketing of West Virginia’s natural gas. This is a proven concept, with active storage hubs along the Gulf Coast, in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands.

Location of a hub in or around West Virginia would be an economic driver for the region, potentially attracting large investments with hundreds of well-paying STEM jobs.

The West Virginia Roundtable continues to work closely with several energy associations to stay up to date on recent news, proposed legislation and industry updates we deem important to share with members.

Education

The West Virginia Business Roundtable has been active in matters of education since our inception in the mid 1980’s. We have worked with our Governors on numerous initiatives to positively impact the education of our state’s youth including higher education restructuring issues, as well as secondary education matters.

While we have made progress over the years, much remains to be done. The West Virginia Roundtable will continue to support best public education practices, efforts to connect K-12 to post-secondary job training, improving student achievement and measurable student performance and better access to various educational options such as virtual learning.

While we face the issues surrounding COVID-19 and virtual learning, the Roundtable is dedicated to engaging educators, legislators and others to do our part to ensure West Virginia provides our students with the highest quality education available.

Judicial Reform

For many years, West Virginia was listed as a struggling system by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but our legal climate has improved vastly over the last several years. West Virginia has stabilized our judicial standing and the state is now in a better position according to the U.S Chamber.

Improvement to our position can be credited to several actions, most notably the election of three new justices, which brought much needed balance to our Supreme Court. We’ve also seen improvements through statutory reforms.

While some aspects have continued to advance, we still face issues moving forward that the West Virginia Roundtable believes would benefit the state as a whole, such as the passage of an Intermediate Court of Appeals. We will continue to show our support for these legislative needs and do our part to see West Virginia move forward.

Responsible Government

A government of the people, by the people and for the people are words from the Gettysburg Address. These words should be considered as a basis for responsible government. We elect our legislators and we expect them to govern for the betterment of all Americans. As our lawmakers decide issues dealing with taxation, education, health care, international issues and others, they should weigh the consequences versus the positive value of their actions.

The West Virginia Roundtable believes in the practice of responsible government and serving the people with integrity and transparency. As business leaders, we’re interested in how our lawmakers face ongoing issues that directly impact West Virginia and our Roundtable members.

Outdoor Economy

While the global pandemic has caused revenue loss for many industries, the outdoor recreational industry within West Virginia has seen a significant increase. West Virginia, with its low cost of living and housing, has experienced an uptick in home sales. Coupled with the popular outdoor activities we offer – white water rafting, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, etc. – the state has become a more attractive place to live, work and raise a family.

Recognizing this opportunity, West Virginia natives Brad and Alys Smith gifted West Virginia University $25 million to develop an outdoor economic development collaborative, which will include a program to develop a remote worker initiative. Leveraging the state’s outdoor assets to attract and retain new talent, the Roundtable fully supports the collaborative by sharing their message, lending insight and more.

From our beautiful state parks, to our rivers and streams, our state has the greatest economic potential east of the Mississippi River. The West Virginia Roundtable will work with state leaders, developers, universities, tourism officers, park officials and more to enhance our position within this industry and take advantage of our topography and our location.

Our People

Staff
President
President Karen Price
Officers
Officers
Chairman of the Board David Ramsey
Vice Chairwoman Susan Lavenski
Secretary Dr. Jerome "Jerry" Gilbert
Treasurer Allison Ballard
Assistant Treasurer Bob Simpson

Board of Directors
Board of Directors
President Karen Price
Chairman of the Board David Ramsey
Vice Chairwoman Susan Lavenski
Secretary Dr. Jerome "Jerry" Gilbert
Board of Directors continued
Treasurer Allison Ballard
Assistant Treasurer Bob Simpson
Immediate Past Chairman Thomas Heywood
Board Member Jason Harshbarger
Board Member Hap Esbenshade
Presidents
Presidents
2019 Robert Simpson, Jr.
2004-2015 Paul Arbogast
1999-2004 Dana Waldo
1994-1999 Betsy Owens (Managing Director)
Presidents continued
1989-1993 David Copenhaver
1987 James Hinkle
1985-1986 Madeleine Hemmings

Chairmen
Chairmen
2019-2020 David Ramsey
2015-2019 Thomas Heywood
2013-2015 Richard Slater
2011-2013 Stepehn Kopp, Ph.D.
2009-2011 Dana Waldo
2006-2008 Robert Simpson, Jr.
2004-2006 Richard Adams
2002-2004 J. Thomas Jones
2001 Paul Arbogast
Chairmen Continued
1999-2000 Gary White
1997-1998 Ralph Bean, Jr.
1995-1996 J. Holmes Morrison
1994-1995 David Hardesty, Jr.
1992-1993 R. W. Wilkinson
1990-1991 Lacy Rice, Jr.
1986-1989 Thomas Burns
1984-1985 Russell Isaacs
FirstLastTitleOrganizationCity
PhyllisArnold  Charleston
RalphBean, Jr.  Bridgeport
W. MarstonBeckerChairmanWest Virginia MediaCharleston
BobbyBlakley, Jr.Regional PresidentBB&T - WV Central RegionCharleston
SusanBrewerChief Executive OfficerSteptoe & Johnson PLLCMorgantown
WilliamBrightChairman and CEOBright EnterprisesSummersville
GastonCapertonPresidentCaperton ConsultingCharleston
A. BrayCaryPresident and CEOWV Media Holdings, LLCCharleston
Dr. GordonGeePresidentWest Virginia UniversityMorgantown
RobertCouryChairman, Executive CommitteeMylanMorgantown
DanLaufferPresident and CEOThomas Health SystemSouth Charleston
Charles "Chuck"AbbottVP and General ManagerSteel of West Virginia, Inc.Huntington
JamesFawcettPresidentHighmark Blue Cross Blue Shield WVParkersburg
Harry "Hap"EsbenshadeChairman and CEOThe Mountain CompanyVienna
JamesEstepPresident and CEOHigh Technology FoundationFairmont
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