Skip to main content

Speaker Bios

Christiaan Abildso

Christiaan Abildso, PhD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the WVU School of Public Health. His research interests include public health program evaluation and social-ecological determinants of physical activity, including policy and the built environment. Dr. Abildso has worked on a number of research studies about the impacts of local rail-trails, rural physical activity, physical activity planning, and evaluation of public health programming. He is currently involved in two large projects – the WV Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program in 5 states and DC, and the “Be Wild, Be Wonderful, Be Healthy” program in 8 WV counties.

Andy Davis 

Andy Davis grew up in the southern Appalachian foothills where the outdoors often served as a secondary classroom outside of school walls. A summer spent in West Virginia between college semesters inspired a move to the Mountain State after getting a degree in Environmental Sciences from Georgia College. Working through the AmeriCorps VISTA program with Active Southern West Virginia stoked a passion for civic engagement and collaborative planning which led him to pursue a graduate degree in Municipal Sustainability at Indiana University. He now works as the Director of Strategic Redevelopment for the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. 

Emily Huguenin

Emily Huguenin is the Director of Ascend WV, the nation's premier remote worker relocation program. Emily joined the OEDC's team in March 2022, bringing over 15 years of experience in non-profit management, team leadership and outdoor recreation program development. Since then, Emily has guided the program to expand into its current five locations, developing initiatives that take the program to new heights and impact communities through talent attraction and retention. Emily is passionate about helping others enrich their lives through outdoor recreation while building up communities throughout the state. 

John King

John King is an Environmental Resource Analyst with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) Office of Environmental Advocate. He currently serves as the agency's Constituent Services coordinator, Acting Environmental Justice coordinator, and Acting Reclamation of Abandoned and Dilapidated Properties Program coordinator.

The advocate office touches all aspects of WVDEP and must stay attuned to regulatory changes and current events. As a Resource Analyst, John provides special assistance to communities and individuals who need help resolving environmental issues or assistance accessing public information. He also provides technical and analytical support to DEP senior staff and program managers using interactive ArcGIS Data Dashboards and internal project management websites.

Ray Perry

Ray is a lifelong native of Logan County West Virginia. He has been the Logan County Building Code Official/Inspector, Certified Floodplain Manager, Property Maintenance Inspector for the past 14 years. Ray is also the Chairman of the West Virginia Floodplain Managers Association and Secretary of the West Virginia Building Code Officials Association.

Kin Sayre

Kin is a partner in the law firm of Bowles Rice and concentrates his practice in tax, municipal law, government relations, land use, and hospitality. Kin has been recognized by his colleagues in West Virginia as one of the Best Lawyers in America for Controversy and Litigation—Tax and Municipal Law.

Kin currently serves as the city attorney for Martinsburg, Mabscott, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and is a former member of the West Virginia Home Rule Board. He is a graduate of West Virginia University with a BSBA and an MBA and The University of Arkansas with a J.D.

Melissa Scott

Melissa Scott has over 25+ years of experience in local government. She has worked in planning in WV, VA, and MI as a consultant, planner, floodplain manager, and GIS professional. Melissa is currently the Hardy County Planner where she has served for most of the last 10 years.   

Katie See

Katie See, AICP, is the Assistant Director at NBAC. She is also the TAB Project Lead for Mid-Atlantic Technical Assistance to Brownfields (WVU TAB) provider for EPA Region 3. She assists communities and stakeholders with brownfield redevelopment by navigating environmental site assessment and cleanup, identifying funding resources, grant review, and general technical assistance. Through support for the redevelopment of industrial legacy sites, she helps communities establish sustainable economic development initiatives to enhance the well-being and quality of life of community members, attract investment to communities, and maximize resources. Katie has over 15 years of experience as a city and county planner, having worked for communities in WV, FL, NC, and SC. This experience includes community engagement, long-range planning, development and site plan review, and extensive coordination with residents, developers, and committees, as well as local, state, and federal agencies. Katie received her undergraduate degree in urban affairs and planning from Virginia Tech and her master’s in environmental policy & management.

Ryan Simonton

Ryan P. Simonton is a member of Kay Casto & Chaney PLLC and practices in the firm’s Morgantown office. Mr. Simonton serves as City Attorney for The City of Morgantown and the Town of Granville, as well as representing clients in matters involving municipal law, regulatory law, government relations, commercial law, and employment law.  He has represented local government clients in state and federal trial and appellate courts in matters involving challenges to zoning laws and decisions, challenges to health and safety regulations enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other matters.  Mr. Simonton graduated from West Virginia University College of Law in 2009, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and the West Virginia Law Review.  He is a member of the West Virginia Municipal Attorneys Association and the West Virginia State Chair for the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Shae Strait

Shae Strait is the Director of Planning and Development for Fairmont. He obtained a Master of Architecture degree from Fairmont State University focused on Appalachian small town revitalization and urban planning. He has over a decade of experience in architecture, civil engineering, and planning particularly around adaptive reuse and plan implementation.

Chad Webb

Chad Webb currently serves as a City Planner for the City of Charleston's Planning Department – focusing on community empowerment and partnership integration. A native of Mingo County, Chad has over a decade of experience in non-profit economic development, community organizing, and public policy research. He is a graduate of the University of Pikeville with a MA from Western Michigan University and a J.D. from West Virginia University. 

Andy Williamson

Andy's business card says Director, however he has been fortunate to serve many roles over his career supporting communities, businesses, and nonprofits in leveraging their public lands and outdoor recreation to enhance their quality of life, grow their local economy, and provide a better visitor experience. Today, Andy supports West Virginia's efforts to attract and retain talent and build a stronger, more vibrant outdoor economy and communities through his role as the Director of Outdoor Economic and Community Development at WVU's Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative and as a WVU Extension Specialist. 

WVU Land Use Clinic 

Our staff includes experienced attorneys and land use professionals backed by the resources of the WVU College of Law.

2024 mslua logos