SOAR Staff

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Jared Arnett

Executive Director

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, bi-partisan initiative launched by former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers 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. Jared resides in Harold, KY with his wife, Bethany and their daughter, Rosalind (Roz) and their son, Harker.


Phone: 606-766-1160

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Keriston Smith

chief finacial officer

Keriston joined the team at Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) as Chief Financial officer 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


Phone: 606-766-1160

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Joshua Ball

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 has extensive experience in higher education, workforce development and community and economic development.

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. In 2010, he became the Founding Director of the Eastern Kentucky Distance Learning Initiative which later evolved into Kentucky Teleworks (currently 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 led the team that developed and was awarded a $3.5 million Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant for the Eastern Kentucky Coal County Transformation program (known as Digital Careers Now), 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. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Morehead State University.

Joshua 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 and their Airedale, Ellie Mae.


Phone: 606-766-1160



LCDR Jenna Meyer

email: | Phone: 606-766-1160

Megan Williams

email: | Phone: 606-766-1160


Hanna Gabbard

Email: i Phone: 606-766-1160


Address: 137 Main Street, Suite 300

Pikeville KY, 41501, USA

Phone: 606-766-1160