Brandon Dennison tapped for Marshall’s vice president of economic and workforce development

Brandon Dennison, founder and CEO of Coalfield Development, joined Marshall University July 1 as vice president of economic and workforce development.

The new post is part of President Brad Smith’s goal to position the university as a prosperity platform for West Virginia and beyond.

“Marshall has many expert departments with dedicated staff working to make a positive impact in our communities, so we are excited to have someone with Brandon’s vision and leadership to help us further grow our collective impact,” Smith said. “I cannot think of a better person to lead this team than Brandon. As a nationally renowned social enterprise expert and a son of southern West Virginia, he brings his unparalleled passion, intense energy and knowledge of Appalachia to this post. We are thrilled that he is joining our Marshall community.”

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Dennison is the founder and CEO of Coalfield Development and will remain as Coalfield Development’s executive president, where he will still work with the team to develop and implement overall long-term strategy for the nonprofit.

He will help select and train a new CEO this fall.

“I appreciate President Smith’s confidence in me, and I am excited to help write Marshall’s next chapter of positive impact and positive change,” Dennison said, “The intersection of knowledge and industry is where real traction begins for modern economic development. Under President Smith, Marshall is leading the way on economic development in this region. I’m going to do all I can to build on this momentum and take it to the next level. Go Herd!”

In his new role, Dennison will be part of Marshall’s external engagement team.

“Brandon is a great addition to our team,” said H. Toney Stroud, general counsel and vice president of external affairs. “We are excited for him to bring his entrepreneurial spirit to strengthen our economic development efforts for not only southern West Virginia, but also the Tri-State region and across the Mountain State.”

Dennison is tasked with working with his department heads to develop the collective vision for Marshall’s economic and workforce development efforts and applied research projects. His team includes Marshall’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, the Southern WV Brownfields Center, the Center for Environmental, Geotechnical, and Applied Sciences, Marshall’s Sustainability Department, and the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia.

“I have worked with Brandon for many years on various projects, and I am excited that he is joining the Marshall team,” Derek Scarbro, interim director of Marshall’s Advanced Manufacturing Center said. “He is a visionary, coalition-builder who will only strengthen Marshall’s reach and help implement the President’s vision to 10x our manufacturing training and services.”

Dennison is a winner of the J.M.K. Social Innovation Prize, a DRK Entrepreneur, and an Ashoka Fellow, all awards for social entrepreneurs. In 2019, he was awarded the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy, and Employment.

He is married to Ashley, and they have two sons.

Dennison’s Marshall roots run deep.

“My brothers are both Marshall graduates and my wife did her graduate work at Marshall. My parents taught there. My sons are slated to attend the STEAM Academy,” he said. “This university holds a special place in my heart, and this is much more than a job. The ‘We Are Marshall’ rally cry always gives me chills. The “We” captures the sense of community so special at this place. The “Are” verb captures the in-motion action which defines the university. It is truly humbling to have this opportunity.”

July 1, 2023


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