New Community Development Specialist at WVSU: Sarah Halstead

Posted: April 29, 2014

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to Sarah Halstead, who recently joined West Virginia State University as an Extension specialist for sustainable community and economic development. Halstead focuses on workforce and community needs assessment, training-program development and innovation-based, entrepreneurial and sustainable community development.

Halstead designs and manages the small business and community development initiatives of the WVSU Economic Development Center (EDC). In that role, she conceptualized the EDC’s new incubator/accelerator initiative, called DigiSo (digital and social media). DigiSo comprises both a state-of-the-art multimedia production studio space and a suite of programs that provide entrepreneurs, mobile workers, and members of the creative industry access to equipment and technology, business-development coaching and consulting, and networking and co-working opportunities. For example, entrepreneurs can attend workshops on web design, social media strategy, business planning, law, finance and patents. According to Halstead, the goal of DigiSo is “to inspire and engage as many people as possible to ‘make’ things that are useful, creative, and potentially marketable.”

A native of West Virginia, Halstead was involved with the EDC even before she joined the staff at WVSU, through its partnership with an organization that she co-founded in 2007 called Create West Virginia. She founded two additional non-profit organizations — WV GreenWorks and the U.S. Green Building Council-WV Chapter, as well.

Halstead brings a blend of executive management skills and experience to her work as an Extension specialist. In addition to her community development work, she owns a communications business, Katalyst Development Strategies, and previously designed and managed contract education services for the California Community Colleges’ Economic and Workforce Development Program. She received a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Alliant International University in 2001 and a bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education from West Virginia State University in 1990.