Shapell Recognized As ‘Leader Worth Following’ in Ga.

Augusta Levy Learning Center executive director given honor

File photo Kathy Shapell, executive director of the Augusta Levy Learning Center, presents a diploma to then-6-year-old Chloe Milliken during a 2013 graduation ceremony.

WHEELING — Kathy Shapell, executive director of the Augusta Levy Learning Center in Wheeling, was named the 2017 Leader Worth Following on Friday during the Leadercast Live event in Atlanta, Ga.

Leadercast is billed as the world’s largest leadership conference, attended by more than 100,000 people around the globe through live streaming.

The Vineyard Church in Wheeling is one of more than 700 locations in 20 countries to simulcast the conference. About 180 Ohio Valley leaders in business, government, churches, nonprofits and schools took part in Leadercast at the church Friday.

Staci Stephen, Augusta Levy development director, nominated Shapell for the award.

“She is the epitome of the word ‘leader.’ She consistently displays the characteristics that make anyone that crosses her path revere her: perseverance, integrity, inspiration, confidence, humbleness, honesty, character, open-mindedness, positivity, passion, patience, focus, generosity and accountability,” Stephen wrote of Shappel in her nomination.

Leadercast states it gives the Leader Worth Following Award to “a leader who has made an outstanding contribution within his or her organization or community.

These leaders embody a foundation of core values and key leadership behaviors that inspire positive change and a culture of trust.”

Previous winners include Aja Brown, mayor of Compton, Calif., in 2015 and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP Inc., a global software company, in 2016.

In between speakers — who this year included Square founder Jim McKelvey and actor/producer Tyler Perry, among many others — Shapell was introduced live onstage Friday by host Tripp Crosby and Leadercast CEO Duane Cummings, who asked her to share her advice for leaders around the world.

“I think there’s no substitute for hard work,” Shapell said. “And I think since most of us don’t work in a vacuum, I think it’s really important to strive for strong communication and collaboration, integrity and balance.”

Cummings also asked Shapell what kind of legacy she would like to leave.

“You know that’s not really a question I’ve ever considered. I don’t really think like that,” Shapell said. “But I think the greatest legacy any leader can leave is to develop other really strong leaders in your organization. And I believe in investing in people and in helping them develop their interests and talents and leadership skills. And I’m so proud of our entire team at Augusta Levy Learning center for their hard work and dedication and really becoming great leaders.”

Shapell, a Shadyside native, founded the Augusta Levy Learning Center for treating children with autism in 2005, the first in the state to use applied behavior analysis. She is a Bethany College graduate and received a master’s degree in education from George Mason University. She founded Ohio Valley Parent magazine and is active in Wheeling Rotary, the Women’s Giving Circle and Oglebay Institute, among other nonprofits.

She served as the first president of the Mountaineer Autism Project, a nonprofit that was instrumental in getting autism insurance legislation passed in the state in 2011, and she received the Autism Speaks Advocacy Award for West Virginia.

Contacted earlier this week, Shapell said as a leader it’s important to be “willing to do everything that you expect your staff to do,” as well as to have high expectations and delegate responsibilities.

“I like to delegate because it is a true demonstration of trust in someone’s capabilities,” Shapell said.

She added she learned her values from her parents, Jim and Sue Porter.

“They are the hardest working people know. They have a lot of integrity,” she said.

Shapell’s son, Sam Fuller, a Linsly School junior, was at the Vineyard Church on Friday to see his mother receive her award.

“I’m really proud of her, and it was so amazing to see her accomplish this. It’s really hard to believe that someone from Wheeling, West Virginia, could do that. It inspires me to become a better leader and to try to really develop my skills and find my interests,” he said.

The Vineyard Church has hosted Leadercast for four years. Lead pastor Chris Figaretti said Augusta Levy Learning Center sends a contingent every year, which illustrates Shapell’s investment in building leaders. He added having Leadercast in Wheeling is good for the community.

“We want to invest in leadership in our community because it makes the community a better place and improves the lives of the people who live here,” Figaretti said.