Davis and Elkins College
Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation President Jen Giovannitti

Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation president to deliver Davis & Elkins commencement address

ELKINS – Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation President Jen Giovannitti will return to the town she helped redevelop as she delivers the commencement address to the 2019 class of Davis & Elkins College. The ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11 in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.

Giovannitti lived in Elkins for 11 years, first serving as the director of the Elkins Railyard redevelopment project, then as chief executive of the Randolph County Economic Development Authority and West Virginia Wood Technology Center. The successful redevelopment of the Elkins Railyard preserved historic structures including the Elkins Depot, reconstructed the historic Tygart Valley River Bridge and added tourism infrastructure and public amenities. The project was a model for rural communities redeveloping brownfield sites. 

“We are pleased to welcome Jennifer Giovannitti back to Elkins to celebrate the 110th Commencement Ceremony at Davis & Elkins College,” said D&E President Chris A. Wood. “Ms. Giovannitti’s previous work in Elkins shares a tie with the founders of our city and the College – U.S. Senators Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen B. Elkins, who were responsible for constructing Elkins’s first railroad and opening the area to development.”

In her role leading the Randolph County’s economic development agency, Giovannitti was committed to advancing workforce development and supporting the many businesses and local manufacturing operations in the region.

Prior to joining the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Giovannitti led strategic programs and community-based initiatives for seven years at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, most notably in community investment, human capital, regional collaboration and capital access. In 2012, she formed the West Virginia Loan Fund Collaborative to better understand the impact of small business lending in underserved communities. 

Giovannitti is a member of the steering committees for West Virginia Forward, a statewide initiative to advance the state’s economy, and the Appalachian Funders Network. Throughout her career, she has held leadership positions at the local, state and regional level with nonprofits, universities, state trade associations andgovernment planning bodies. Early in her career, she also worked with municipalities in western Pennsylvania in positions with the engineering firms of Mackin Engineering Company and Herbert, Rowland and Grubic, Inc.

Giovannitti obtained a Master of Arts degree in community and regional planning from the University of British Columbia, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in planning and urban studies from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. She was an international research fellow in 1995-1996 through the University of British Columbia Centre for Human Settlements, where she led a research project in Vietnam designed around the role of women in the household economy and poverty alleviation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Her research was later published through the Asian Urban Research Network. 

Giovannitti lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and three children.

The Davis & Elkins College Commencement Weekend begins Friday, May 10 with the traditional Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony at 4 p.m. and a Baccalaureate Service and Recognition of Graduates at 7 p.m., both in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. A reception for graduates and their guests will take place immediately after the Baccalaureate Service on the Claude King Davis Memorial Plaza. The 110th Commencement Ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11 in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. A reception for graduates and their guests will follow on the Claude King Davis Memorial Plaz

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