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The West Virginia Department of Commerce’s mission is to promote and preserve the well-being of the citizens of West Virginia by providing a cooperative, interagency system that stimulates diverse economic growth, encourages the appropriate use of our state’s abundant natural resources, improves the safety and productivity of our workforce and promotes the beauty and desirability of our state as a world-class tourism destination.

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Leadership

Ed Gaunch

Ed Gaunch

Cabinet Secretary

Ed Gaunch

Ed Gaunch

Ed Gaunch is a native of Boone County, West Virginia. He was appointed in December 2018 by Governor Jim Justice to serve as the Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Commerce.

Gaunch is a graduate of West Virginia State University where he double-majored in Economics and Political Science. Following graduation, he began a career in the insurance industry that spanned more than three decades and included 28 years at the Carson Agency in Charleston, where he served a number of years as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Secretary Gaunch has served on numerous boards and foundations, including the BBT/Charleston Board of Directors, the West Virginia State University Foundation, the Believe West Virginia Leadership Foundation, CAMC Foundation, Buckskin Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce, University of Charleston, Alderson Broaddus College, King College, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center.

He is active in his church, Emmanuel Baptist, where he has served as a deacon and a Sunday School Teacher.

Secretary Gaunch currently resides in Charleston with Marilyn, his wife of more than 50 years. They have two children and five grandchildren.

Wesley H. White

Wesley H. White

General Counsel

Wesley H. White

Wesley H. White

Wesley H. White is from Man, West Virginia. He graduated from Duke University in 2000 with his Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Markets and Management Studies degree. In 2007, White graduated from Ohio Northern University—Claude W. Pettit College of Law with his law degree.

An avid athlete, he was granted a full scholarship for football at Duke University. During his time there White was a four-year varsity letterman. His love for the game continued at Ohio Northern University where he was an assistant football coach for the offensive line for the ONU Polar Bears.

Counselor White serves on the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board and leads the Department of Commerce’s Opportunity Zones Program.

White and his wife, Shannon live in Scott Depot, West Virginia. They have one child, Nora.

Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith

Director, Marketing and Communications

Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce. A native of Elkins and graduate of Davis & Elkins College, Smith spent most of her career in the newspaper industry serving as sales director at The Inter-Mountain, Charleston Newspapers and the West Virginia Press Association. She lives in Charleston with her husband and children.

Mike Graney

Mike Graney

Executive Director, Development Office

Mike Graney

Mike Graney

Mike Graney grew up in Mount Hope in Fayette County West Virginia.

Graney, who is successful entrepreneur, spent a large part of his career working in the petroleum industry and served as president of a chain of more than 50 One Stop convenience stores until 2015.

Director Graney is a member of the Executive Council of the Boy Scouts of America’s Buckskin Council. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.

Graney lives in Kanawha County.

Barry Cook

Barry Cook

Director, Division of Forestry

Barry Cook

Barry Cook

Barry Cook is a proud native of West Virginian and a military veteran who was born in Williamson, West Virginia.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management from West Virginia University and an Executive MBA from Duke University.

Director Cook gained interest in forestry when he attended a Forestry Industry camp. He started his almost 50-year forestry career as a logging superintendent for Weyerhaeuser Company in North Carolina.

Director Cook served on the Board of Directors for the Hardwood Manufacturers Association and the West Virginia Forestry Association.

He and his wife, Donna, currently live in Beckley, West Virginia. The have three children, Maggie Jean, Tyhler and Logan.

Mitchel Blake

Mitchel Blake

Director, Geological and Economic Survey

Mitchel Blake

Mitchel Blake

Mitchel Blake earned his Bachelor of Science in Geology from Waynesburg University. He went on to complete his Master’s Degree and Ph.D from West Virginia University.

Director Blake’s research interests include the Appalachian basin analysis, CO2 sequestration, coal bed methane exploration among other various geologic work.

Director Blake is an adjunct faculty for West Virginia University, Fairmont University and Pierpont Community and Technical College.

He served as a Research Collaborator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Director Blake has written and co-written many publications for the Geological Society of America Abstract with Programs and The West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey among other periodicals.

Chelsea Ruby

Chelsea Ruby

Commissioner, Tourism Office

Chelsea Ruby

Chelsea Ruby

Chelsea Ruby was appointed Tourism Commissioner in January 2017. As commissioner, Ruby leads the effort to advance tourism development, expand West Virginia’s travel and tourism industries and promote the Mountain State to a broader audience, featuring West Virginia as a year-round travel destination to both national and international travelers.

Prior to her appointment as commissioner, Ruby served as Director of Marketing and Communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, where she earned numerous state and regional marketing awards for the department’s successful social media, print publications, and comprehensive public relations and advertising campaigns.

She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and lives in Charleston, West Virginia with her husband and two children.

Mitchell Woodrum

Mitchell Woodrum

Commissioner, Division of Labor

Mitchell Woodrum

Mitchell Woodrum

Mitchell Woodrum was born in Madison, West Virginia.

Commissioner Woodrum earned his Certificate of Achievement in Carpentry at the Boone Technical and Career Center. He worked several years in the construction industry from building homes in Teays Valley and other parts of West Virginia to building commercial buildings in the Washington D.C. area.

Commissioner Woodrum strives to work with Labor and Industry to make the climate in West Virginia better for all employees and businesses. With almost thirty years of experience in the industry, he was appointed Commissioner by Governor Justice in November 2017.

Woodrum is the Chair of the West Virginia Board of Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety as well as an Ex Officio Member of the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board.

Woodrum and his wife Deborah live in Ashford, West Virginia. They have two children, Jacob and Miah.

Eugene White

Eugene White

Director, Miner’s Health, Safety and Training

Eugene White

Eugene White

Eugene White grew up in the coal fields of Southern West Virginia.

With nearly 45 years of hands-on coal mining experience, Director White is dedicated to improving mine safety and training. He joined MHST in 2007 as Inspector at Large for Region 3. He has been a member of the West Virginia State Mine Emergency team for 15 years.

Director White worked for steel and coal companies in numerous roles. He has worked as a coal drill operator, roof bolter and safety committee chairman. His professional certifications include underground coal miner, mine foreman, gas instructor and mine rescue.

White and his wife, Kathy, live in Dorothy, West Virginia. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

Steve McDaniel

Steve McDaniel

Director, Division of Natural Resources

Steve McDaniel

Steve McDaniel

Steve McDaniel grew up in Bridgeport, West Virginia. He attended both West Virginia University and Fairmont State College where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He did this while helping his family establish and grow Total Health Services of West Virginia, a medical supply company.

An avid hunter and fisherman Director Cook also likes hiking and kayaking. His passion for the outdoors and the Mountain State runs through his veins.

Director McDaniel established the Mozark Mountain Tree Farm in Tucker County. He is also a member of Trout Unlimited and lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.

Marijane Waldron

Marijane Waldron

Director, Division of Rehabilitation Services

Marijane Waldron

Marijane Waldron

Marijane Waldron has more than 30 years of experience with the state-federal vocational rehabilitation program. She has been committed to providing people with disabilities the work-related services they need to obtain employment throughout her longstanding career with the Division.

Director Waldron earned her undergraduate degree in rehabilitation counseling from Marshall University. She furthered her education by attending West Virginia University where she received her master’s degree in social work and she has expanded her education in executive leadership through San Diego State University.

Waldron began her career with the Division in 1986 as a Rehabilitation Counselor. Throughout her career, she has served as Assistant Director of Client Services, Senior Manager of Quality Assurance and Policy Development, Supervisor of Education and Training, Supervisor of the Blind and Visually Impaired Program, and the Admissions Supervisor for the West Virginia Rehabilitation Center. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the statewide quality assurance program, as well as the electronic case management and fiscal processing systems unique to the Division.

Russell Fry

Russell Fry

Acting Executive Director, WorkForce West Virginia

Russell Fry

Russell Fry

Russell L. Fry has more than 35 years of experience in workforce development and served as Director of the Employment Services Division of WorkForce West Virginia prior to his appointment.

Under his leadership, West Virginia’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund remained solvent during the recession, saving state employers from additional tax burdens. Mr. Fry has expanded online services to job seekers and employers, most recently introducing online reporting and payment of employer unemployment compensation contributions. West Virginia is one of several states to offer unemployment compensation claimants payment by check, prepaid card or direct deposit.

Mr. Fry is a native of Wayne County, WV, and a graduate of Marshall University. He is a military veteran with service in the United States Air Force. Fry has served in leadership roles in numerous community and economic development organizations. He is married with three children.