President Joe Biden has nominated Gayle Manchin, the wife of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, to co-chair the Appalachian Regional Commission, the White House announced Friday.
The commission was created in 1965 as part of an antipoverty effort under President Lyndon Johnson. It serves 420 Appalachian counties across 13 states from southern New York to northeast Mississippi and has invested $4.5 billion in the region since its creation. All 55 of West Virginia’s counties fall under the commission.
The agency promotes economic development, job training, and investments in infrastructure and the region’s cultural and natural assets.
Joe Manchin is a key Senate Democrat who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. As a moderate, Manchin’s vote has been critical for Biden’s agenda in an evenly split chamber.
Gayle Manchin is a career educator who was West Virginia’s first lady from 2005 to 2010 and a member of the state board of education from 2007 to 2015.
In 2017, Gov. Jim Justice appointed her as cabinet secretary for the Office of Education and the Arts but fired her in 2018 amid a dispute over the state legislature’s attempts to restructure the department.
Her nomination to the commission will require Senate confirmation.