Brandon Dennison, born and raised in Ona, WV, is a social entrepreneur. In May of 2011, Brandon was named Executive Director of the Coalfield Development Corporation, a new organization he has worked tirelessly to establish. With a Master of Public Affairs with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University – ranked number one in the nation for nonprofit management by U.S. News – and three years of experience with public housing authorities, he understands how to navigate the challenges of federal grants and contracts. Dennison has over seven years of experience in nonprofit management, and has successfully written and managed grants totaling over $1 million for multiple nonprofit organizations.
As Executive Director of the Coalfield Development Corporation, Brandon created the 21st Century Jobs Initiative (21JI). This bold social venture was established to meet three pressing needs facing rural West Virginia: poor quality housing, lack of economic, educational, and developmental opportunities for young people, and the hopelessness resulting from generational cycles of poverty. 21JI will employ, train, and mentor young workers living in poverty to improve the quality of housing and create new environmentally sustainable markets in southern West Virginia.
All three sectors are familiar to Dennison as he has also worked in private sector sales and merchandising, works as a self-employed community development consultant through the Collective Impact Network, and earned a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. This unique combination of skills and experiences within all three sectors empowers Brandon to obtain the necessary and unique mix of funding necessary for a successful social venture.
In addition to management and finance skills, Dennison brings extensive experience with community needs analyses and strategic planning. He has completed needs assessments for seven communities and strategic action plans for three entities including his own Coalfield Development Corporation.
But more than anything, what makes Brandon tick is his vision for empowerment and community transformation. Characteristics that define Brandon’s work are creative, bold, and collaborative. Brandon has always and will always considerhimself a mission driven person.
Prior to his community development career, Dennison graduated from Shepherd University with a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Political Science. He served five years as Youth Director at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, and simultaneously served three years as Faith Outreach Coordinator for the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition. For his efforts to protect the Monongahela National Forrest, the Campaign for America’s Wilderness named Dennison a “Wilderness Hero” in 2008.