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IA Announces Director of Community Impact and Investment Committee

Baylen Campbell as Director of Community Impact

Announcing Baylen Cambell as IA Director of Community Impact

Invest Appalachia is excited to announce that Baylen Campbell has joined our team in the position of Director of Community Impact. Through a rigorous, multi-phase, and months-long hiring process, Baylen demonstrated a deep commitment to the future of the Appalachian region and a strong grasp of Invest Appalachia’s role in fostering a more just, equitable, and sustainable regional economy. As Director of Community Impact for Invest Appalachia (IA), Baylen’s responsibilities will include stakeholder engagement and partnership development, impact assessment, community guidance of investment priorities via the IA Community Advisory Council, and contributing to Invest Appalachia’s growth and evolution as we continue to develop community-first strategies for increasing investment in Appalachia.

Baylen Campbell

Baylen Campbell, pictured in his hometown of Hazard, KY

Baylen brings a strong blend of experience inside and outside of the Appalachian region. Originally from and based in Hazard, Kentucky, he has spent his career working as an economic development and social impact practitioner.

Most recently he served as the Director for InVision Hazard, a grassroots economic development and civic engagement organization based out of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, as well as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Appalachians for Appalachia (AforA), a non-profit working to advance collaboration, civic engagement, economic development, and narrative change strategies across Central Appalachia. He also co-founded the Lige Clarke Liberation Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, to advance LGBTQ rights in Appalachian Kentucky. Prior to returning to his home region of Eastern Kentucky, Baylen worked on various grantmaking and community engagement efforts with Unbound Philanthropy.

“Baylen is just the person to help Invest Appalachia grow into its potential as a community-first investment platform. He brings a great combination of intellect, vision, and contextual understanding to this work, and has the skills and personality to succeed in the role of Director of Community Impact. I can’t wait to see what he helps IA accomplish,” shared Invest Appalachia CEO Andrew Crosson.

“We are thrilled to see Baylen step into this role. A young leader from the region, he brings a wealth of beneficial experience and relationships. Working from Hazard, Kentucky, Baylen’s proximity to community challenges and triumphs will help keep Invest Appalachia grounded in the realities of the region and make sure our hardest to reach places are not left behind,” shared Gerry Roll, CEO of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.


Update on Launch of Invest Appalachia Fund

The Invest Appalachia Fund, which will provide flexible repayable investment to community-based projects and enterprises, is nearing it’s first close and plans to launch by early Summer 2022.

Are you a investor, funder, or donor interested in being part of the Fund’s “First Close”, or just interested to learn more about Invest Appalachia? Contact us for more information.

If you have a project that will be looking for financing in Summer 2022 or after, let us know! You can submit a project overview through IA’s online portal to get started on our due diligence process.

NPQ Article Highlights Appalachia

Invest Appalachia CEO Andrew Crosson recently authored an article in Non-Profit Quarterly, making the case for transformative investment approaches to historically disinvested region like Appalachia.

It discusses the region\’s economic history, Appalachia\’s chronic underfunding by national philanthropy and federal government, an intersectional understanding of racial and socioeconomic inequities, and the strong community-rooted investment ecosystem that has been built over the years by place-based actors and regional networks.

Read and share the article here!


Richmond Federal Reserve Highlights Rural Capacity

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond recently hosted a conference focused on “Investing in Rural Prosperity.” One of the themes of the event was the need to develop and support rural capacity through anchor organizations, intermediaries, and networks.

Fed President Tom Barkin\’s keynote remarks highlighted the WV Community Development Hub, Central Appalachian Network, and Invest Appalachia as examples of impactful and innovative rural capacity. See the full remarks here.

Announcing the Invest Appalachia Fund’s Inaugural Investment Committee

The Invest Appalachia board has approved the inaugural Investment Committee, which will provide oversight and approval for the Invest Appalachia Fund\’s investment decisions and portfolio management. They will be responsible for implementing IA\’s investment policies, balancing the impact and equity goals of the IA Fund with financial due diligence and viability considerations. The Investment Committee, in addition to the Board of Directors and forthcoming Community Advisory Council, provides another formal structure that reflects IA\’s adherence to a high standard of regional collaboration and community accountability.

The Investment Committee is deliberately designed to provide a mix of perspectives. The IC reflects diversity across several crucial attributes – including but not limited to geography, organization, and demography. It balances:

  • Board members and non-board members
  • Place-based, regional, and national footprints
  • Traditional community lending as well as emerging finance models


Invest Appalachia is honored to have the following individuals serve on the inaugural Investment Committee:

Inaugural Investment Committee Members
Inaugural Investment Committee Members

With nearly 60 years of aggregate investing experience, the IC members have the skills and experience necessary to interpret and enact the Fund’s Investment Policies, to effectively evaluate credit and risk, and to contextualize individual investments within the market and mission of the Fund. IC members also have deep experience across all four of Invest Appalachia’s focus sectors, with particularly strong expertise in areas like CDFI lending, small business, non-profits, affordable housing, real estate, employee ownership, non-extractive finance, CRA compliance, public policy, and technical assistance provision.


Continued: Announcing Baylen Campbell as Director of Community Impact

As Director of Community Impact, Baylen will act as a touchpoint for community members and stakeholders, developing, nurturing and leading effective working relationships with a diverse range of community partners including the Appalachia Funders Network, Central Appalachia Network, financial institutions, community groups, local governments, regional planning districts, non-profit organizations and socially minded corporations. Together with our partners, Baylen will shape and guide Invest Appalachia’s Community Advisory Council as they seek to accelerate the pipeline of investable opportunities in Central Appalachia through the deployment of catalytic capital. Baylen will also lead strategic initiatives around ecosystem development, capacity and skill-building, and development of a robust, inclusive, and community-centered pipeline of projects. And, Baylen will act as a “mission steward” for Invest Appalachia, ensuring we continuously strive to advance inclusive practices and create equitable impacts for Appalachian communities.

“As a proud son of Appalachia, I am incredibly excited and humbled to be stepping into the role of Director of Community Impact with Invest Appalachia. This position and IA’s work offer a unique fit for my blend of experience and interests and I could think of no better place to begin the next chapter of my career. I am beyond thrilled to work with Andrew, IA’s Board, our forthcoming Community Advocacy Council, and other partners to drive equitable economic development by and for the folks of Appalachia. Having grown up queer in Eastern Kentucky, I am deeply committed to building an Appalachia where everyone can thrive regardless of their background, who they love, how they identify, or where they come from. I’d like to especially thank my friends and family at Appalachians for Appalachia, the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, and InVision Hazard for their support and partnership!” – Baylen Campbell

Debbie Phillips, CEO of Rural Action and a member of the IA Board and hiring committee, reflected: “In the course of our extensive search process, Baylen stood out, and we are excited to have him joining the team. Baylen\’s experience in philanthropy, alongside his passionate advocacy for the region, will bring just the right mix of skills to the role of Director of Community Impact. His demonstrated effectiveness as the organizer of Appalachians for Appalachia and his professional background at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky and Invision Hazard inspire us, and we are looking forward to great things for the region with Baylen on our team.”

Baylen will build on a broad array of relevant experiences. He is a co-founding partner of Studio Appalachia, a community-led rural design studio based out of the University of Kentucky’s College of Design. For four years he worked with Unbound Philanthropy, where he oversaw exploratory grantmaking and research in New York State, across the US, and coordinated Unbound’s monitoring and evaluation work. In this role he co-created The Good Neighbor Initiative – a participatory grantmaking initiative for social, racial, and economic justice at the Long Island Community Foundation in conjunction with Engage New York. Baylen has conducted research and policy analysis with Independent Diplomat, Concern Worldwide, The Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, Amnesty International USA, and Students Take Action Now Darfur. He holds a BA in International Affairs from John Cabot University in Rome, Italy and an MSc in Development Practice from Trinity College Dublin/University College Dublin. He currently serves on the Boards of the Appalachian Impact Fund, Commonwealth Alliance Donor Table, and Appalachian Arts Alliance. Outside of work Baylen can be found cooking, hiking, attending concerts, and spending time with family, friends and his dog Hootenanny.

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