John Molinaro joined the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth in July 2012 as its first President and CEO. He brings 30+ years’ experience growing economies of rural and small-market urban areas. Mr. Molinaro previously spent six years as Co-Director of The Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group, helping communities across the nation enhance their economies, pairing innovative and traditional economic development and philanthropic approaches. Before joining Aspen, Mr. Molinaro served at West Central Initiative, a community foundation/community development corporation in Minnesota. In 20 years there, he led highly successful efforts in business retention and expansion, workforce development, assistance to manufacturers, and regional planning. During his tenure, the region more than doubled manufacturing employment and reversed decades of population loss. Mr. Molinaro served as a policy fellow of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, an appointee to Minnesota’s state Workforce Development Council, a founding member of the Rural Policy Research Institute’s state policy panel, and has advised the Small Business Administration, White House Rural Council, and Domestic Policy Council on rural issues. Mr. Molinaro is certified in economic development and housing development finance by the National Development Council, holds a Master’s in Regional Planning, and pursued advanced studies in leadership, policy and theology.