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Chamber of Commerce chairman issues challenge to city’s young leaders

September 22, 2018

Rob Sellards, chairman of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, is the guest speaker during Generation Huntington's monthly meeting Thursday at the St. Mary's Center for Education.

HUNTINGTON — Although Rob Sellards was born and raised in West Virginia and attended Marshall University, he believed in order to be successful he would have to leave the state he loved.

“I graduated from Point Pleasant High School in Mason County and was a son of Marshall, but then I decided that opportunities were going to take me away from West Virginia,” he said Thursday while speaking to members of Generation Huntington, an organization for young professionals. “To succeed in life, I believed I had to move away.”

However, while attending law school at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he realized he was wrong.

“I thought I was taking the road less traveled, but the road less traveled was to stay home and make a difference in my home state, so I came back in 2001,” Sellards said.

Since that time he has practiced law in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, while also being involved in other local community and volunteer organizations and events.

“I have been involved in the United Way. I teach and coach youth soccer and camps and try to give back as much as I can to the community,” he said. “That service to my community has made all the difference in my life.”

Sellards, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLC and chairman of the Huntington Regional

Chamber of Commerce, was the guest speaker at Generation Huntington’s monthly meeting Thursday at the St. Mary’s Center for Education on 5th Avenue.

He spoke about the importance of service to community to the group of Huntington’s young leaders.

“My belief is you need to serve and give back to the place that got you where you are today, and for me that is West Virginia,” he said.

Sellards said now he appreciates the opportunities to foster young leaders.

He also says there is a difference between networking and service.

“A lot of the groups are the same, but there is a different motivation,” he said. “I don’t serve for accolades or credit or pats on the back. I do it because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Sellards says today he has the opportunity as the chairman of the Chamber to continue to develop the economy in Cabell and Wayne counties and the business roundtables, as well as helping to bring new businesses into the region working with the Huntington Area Development Council and other agencies and organizations.

“I have the opportunity to be a thought leader and a steer-er for the service lines we are trying to create with rehab and job facilitation for our brothers and sisters who are affected by pills and drugs,” he said. “Our firm did a significant portion of the PROACT, which is a joint venture between most of the health care entities in this area.”

Sellards issued a “call to arms” to those he called the “superstars of this community” to get out, give back and do something.

“Don’t do it for the social media plug or not for the tweet, but for the benefit of the community,” he said. “If you do something for the right reason, you will feel better than 10 people seeing you post something on social media that doesn’t have any merit whatsoever on it. Let’s change the dialog and get out of our own way and start making a real difference in our community and our state.”

Generation Huntington provides networking opportunities to area young professionals, educating them through various speakers and workshops, according to Mendy Aluise, this year’s chairwoman of the group.

“We want to provide an outlet for young professionals to give back to the community and develop a core of young leaders committed to growing and helping the Huntington region,” she said.

Aluise said this month the group will do a trash pickup event at the riverfront Thursday, Sept. 27.

“After, we will be having a happy hour event at Taps at Heritage Station, and then we will host a tailgate at the Oct. 5 Marshall football game and we are hoping to get a lot of people to show up for that event as well,” she said.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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