Shenandoah Valley Partnership picks new director

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
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The new head of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP) may be young, but she’s not green in terms of economic development experience.

Carrie Chenery, who turns 29 in April, was assistant secretary of agriculture and forestry in Richmond before becoming executive director of the SVP, an economic development organization serving seven counties and five cities in the  Valley. Chenery succeeds Dennis Burnett, who died unexpectedly in October.

In her previous role, Chenery oversaw the economic development efforts for the office of Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry led by Todd Haymore. Her responsibilities included administration of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) fund, which provides grants to agricultural and forestry companies.

Before joining Haymore’s office, Chenery was manager of legislation and policy at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and director of government affairs with Williams Mullen, a law firm based in Richmond. She is no stranger to the Valley, having grown up on a Rockbridge County cattle farm.

“I feel like everything I’ve done has kind of refined itself to this point,” she says. “You know, it was government relations funneling into economic development, funneling into agriculture and now funneling back home for me. So … I feel like it’s been a nice trajectory to this point.”

Greg Godsey, chair of the partnership’s board, says it selected Chenery from a strong applicant pool. He doesn’t think her age will be an issue in her new position.

“I think her … track record speaks for itself, so I think she’s ready for this next role and will do an excellent job for the partnership based on … her experience to date and her connections in Richmond and throughout the state for that matter,” says Godsey, who is senior vice president and commercial market executive at Union Bank & Trust.

As head of the partnership, Chenery would like to enhance existing initiatives and collaborations and move them forward. Those plans include continuing to market the region alongside the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and advancing workforce efforts with the area’s higher-education institutions. She’d also like to add a young professionals committee to the partnership to give that group a voice and help attract more talent to the Valley.

Chenery and her hus­­band, Taylor, have settled in Staunton, which she says is halfway between her family’s home in Rockbridge and SVP’s office in Harrisonburg. When away from the office, Chenery enjoys hiking, camping and live music.

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