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Brad D. Smith & Alys Smith

“I may have spent the first 22 years of my life dreaming of a way out, but I can tell you with clear eyes and full heart I’ve spent every day since looking for a way back home.”

Brad & Alys

About Brad & Alys Smith

Born and raised in Kenova, Brad D. Smith, president of Marshall University and co-founder of Wing 2 Wing, left West Virginia to pursue an executive career, but realized almost immediately that his roots gave him a unique edge in his life and career. Brad’s distinctive upbringing prepared him to take on various leadership roles, which also led to him receiving a Presidential Honorary Doctor of Business Degree from WVUStill, Brad’s passion for his home state remained with him through his executive career in Silicon Valley — eventually calling him back to West Virginia with a mission to uplift the place that built him. Together, Brad and his wife Alys Smith, an accomplished lawyer and proud Ohioan, realized West Virginia’s quality of life, welcoming communities, and valuable outdoor recreation resources offered unique opportunities to bring an increase in focus, investment, and development to the state. It was through this realization that the Wing 2 Wing Foundation was born and Brad and Alys embarked on a journey of giving back to the state they love.

Brad and Alys waving on the summit of Seneca Rocks

Why did Brad & Alys invest in the OEDC?

A new future for West Virginia

Seeing West Virginia’s untapped potential, the Smiths bestowed a transformational gift to assist with funding both a talent attraction and retention program and outdoor recreation asset development — resulting in the creation of the Ascend West Virginia and the OEDC, respectively. In collaboration with the Department of Tourism, Ascend WV is designed to help remote workers discover Almost Heaven and put down roots in the state. Additionally, First Ascent, a spinoff program of Ascend WV, similarly incentivizes recent graduates of WVU and Marshall to stay, work, and live in the state. With each of these programs, West Virginia’s exceptional outdoor recreation infrastructure is leveraged as a benefit for enthusiasts of all levels to enjoy, which in turn grows new business and recreational opportunities.

Brad, Alys, Greg and Danny walk towards Seneca Rocks

Uplifting the Mountain State

Giving back to the house that built Brad

Brad and Alys have made education, entrepreneurship, and equal opportunity the focus of their efforts and have carried these themes into OEDC initiatives. The Science Adventure School is just one OEDC program that aligns with the values Brad and Alys set forth. The Science Adventure School gives 6th-grade students a chance to explore nature and local environments while igniting an interest in STEM education. Programs like these, along with various remote worker programs, are imperative to developing West Virginia as it creates opportunities for people of all ages to engage in all the Mountain State has to offer.

A young woman enjoying climbing some rocks