A native of eastern Kentucky, Jared has a heart for the people of the region and for the businesses of eastern Kentucky. In November of 2014, he began his new role as the Founding Executive Director for Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR), a special initiative launched by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) and Congressman Hal Rogers (R) in 2013. SOAR’s mission is to expand job creation, enhance regional opportunity, innovation, and identity, improve the quality of life, and support all those working to achieve these goals in Appalachian Kentucky.
Prior to taking his post at SOAR, Arnett was leading the 530 member Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce as President/CEO. He was instrumental in the expansion of the organization both geographically and strategically. Before being employed at the chamber, Arnett's career had included serving as the director of finance for Sound House Music, Inc.; general management consultant for the East Kentucky Small Business Development Center; and at age 26, starting his own consulting firm, Beacon Management Solutions, Inc.
Through his consulting work, he was instrumental in more than 10 successful start-ups in eastern Kentucky, including the most recent, as a partner in Mountain Music Exchange, LLC. He has a bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies and a minor in Government, as well as a MBA from Morehead State University. At age 32, he has nearly 10 years of experience in executive leadership and entrepreneurship. Jared resides in Harold, KY with his wife, Bethany and their six year old daughter Rosalind (Roz).
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Kevin Loux is a young professional with a background in technology, economics, and law. In June of 2015, as the Director of Strategic Partnerships, he became the third staff member of Shaping our Appalachian Region; a non-profit economic development organization established by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers. In his work experience, innovative use of technology often played a key role in problem‐solving enabling increased efficiency and productivity. As a young economic developer, he has helped his organization find a niche focusing on technology and broadband-centric strategies leveraging KentuckyWired. In addition to his experience, he completed a four‐year bachelor's degree in two calendar years; receiving a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Business Economics from the University of Central Florida. He also received his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky while attending as a recipient of the Provost Fellowship. Leveraging his Law and Economics background enables him to bring unique value and a pragmatic solution-oriented perspective.
Aside from his formal education, technology has been an interest of his since a young age. This passion provides him with over two decades of experience and expertise using various operating systems as well as a wealth of experience and certifications for many applications and coding languages.
Associate Executive Director
Joshua joined Shaping Our Appalachian Region in August 2017 as Associate Executive Director. Born in the southern West Virginia and raised in Martin County in eastern Kentucky, Joshua firmly believes that the region’s most valuable natural resource is its people and their faith and grit (work ethic). Prior to coming to SOAR, Joshua served as Director of Strategic Communications at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. Working under the direction of the President/CEO, he was responsible for the college’s public relations and marketing efforts, web services, grants/sponsored projects, institutional advancement, and the Big Sandy College Educational Foundation, Inc. He has vast experience in higher education and workforce development. In 2010, he became the Founding Director of the Eastern Kentucky Distance Learning initiative which later evolved into Kentucky Teleworks (currently called Teleworks USA). He also served as Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Pikeville Medical Center, as well as Managing Editor of its newspaper, the Medical Leader. Joshua played an instrumental role in Kentucky Teleworks being awarded an Appalachian Regional Commission grant to open the first-ever Teleworks Hub in Jackson County. Since its opening, the hub has created more than 350 jobs and has spawned a growth of the hub model across eastern Kentucky. Joshua also helped land a $3.5 million Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant for the Eastern Kentucky Coal County Transformation program, a consortium of industry-led innovation hubs being housed on campuses of Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Hazard Community and Technical College and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. A graduate of Morehead State University, Joshua is finishing his master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education from Morehead State University. He is also a graduate of the Leadership Kentucky program (2010) and was named Young Professional of the Year by the Young Professionals of Eastern Kentucky in (2011). He has won numerous awards for his writing and photography by the Kentucky Press Association, West Virginia Press Association and the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. Joshua resides in Johnson County with his wife, Tammy, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who serves as a Division Chair and Professor of Human Services at Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
Chief Financial Officer
Keriston L. Smith, MBA joined the team at Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) as Chief Financial in 2016. She has more than 15 years’ experience working in a variety of positions, including senior staff accountant, financial analyst, regional assistant controller, and business analyst for Massey Energy Company and Alpha Natural Resources.
Keriston earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Morehead State University. She resides in Pike County with her husband, Teddy Smith, and their three children.