Dec. 5, 2017

Batten Alumna Named One of Southern Living’s Southerners of the Year

(Editors note: This article is appeared in Southern Living magazine.)


Batten School alumna Natalie Roper (MPP ’14) was selected as one of Southern Living magazine’s 2017 Southerners of the Year. Roper is the executive director of Generation West Virginia, a network of young talent organizations established to encourage leadership development in the state.

Natalie Roper addresses the West Virginia Legislature. (photo by Perry Bennett, courtesy of West Virginia Legislature.)

Natalie Roper

Generation West Virginia
Charleston, WV

While cities across the South are seeing urban revitalization and an influx of newcomers (estimates say the Nashville metro area grows by 100 people a day), West Virginia is one of the few states in the country where the population is declining. Natalie Roper wants to give West Virginia’s young people a reason to stay and others an incentive to move there.

As the executive director of Generation West Virginia, Roper finds ways to fund fellowships at nonprofits, connect talent to major local employers, and incentivize a new generation of entrepreneurs to create their businesses in West Virginia. Recently, she has been involved in legislation that would increase the state’s access to broadband Internet service (it currently ranks 48th) and make its cities even more attractive to technology-driven businesses.