The Wheeling Heritage staff has unique knowledge of downtown revitalization and sustainable historic rehabilitation.
As Wheeling Heritage’s executive director, Alex Weld oversees operations and programs to help the organization further its mission to be a catalyst for Wheeling’s revitalization. Alex first joined Wheeling Heritage in 2017 to lead its marketing and downtown development initiatives. In September 2019, she became the organization’s first Director of Operations, overseeing Wheeling Heritage’s programmatic work. Since joining the organization, Alex has created a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem by developing the Wheeling CO.STARTERS and expanding Show of Hands – programs that provide knowledge, resources, and support to aspiring entrepreneurs. Additionally, she has facilitated activities in public space development, small business promotion, and building preservation.
Alex graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor in business administration. She earned her Master of Science in integrated marketing communications from WVU’s Reed College of Media. She is a member of the boards of YWCA Wheeling, Regional Economic Development Partnership (RED), Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce, and Generation Wheeling.
Wheeling has so much to offer, as a city full of culture, history and passionate people who care about their future. Our work helps families and small businesses here to grow and thrive.”
Chris Villamagna grew up in the Pittsburgh community of Lawrenceville, Pa., and attended Point Park University, where she earned a journalism and communications degree at Point Park University. Chris has worked at Wheeling Heritage since 1999. As program manager, she organizes the organization’s annual Celtic Festival in March and develops programming for riverfront trails such as moonlight walks and yoga on the lawn.
Chris manages the Artisan Center shop and gallery, overseeing inventory and employees at the shop and recruiting artists, curating shows and hosting receptions at the gallery.
Engaging the community makes all the difference for quality programming. I love interacting with artists, volunteers and people who visit our shop, gallery, events and workshops.”
Director of Heritage Programming
A Pittsburgh native, Betsy Sweeny earned degrees in art history and anthropology from the University of Missouri. She also holds a masters in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Prior to relocating to Wheeling, Betsy worked as an architectural historian at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange, Virginia.
Betsy’s work includes history-related projects, facilitating technical assistance for historic building owners, and overseeing the organization’s historic preservation grants and contracts.
Bringing the past into the present is the only way to keep history relevant. Wheeling is fortunate to have so many places, spaces, and communities with stories to tell. Our work helps to tell those stories.”
Natalie Kovacs joined the Wheeling Heritage team in October 2019 as the manager of the Artisan Center Shop. She oversees the daily duties and employees of the shop, runs both the Facebook and Instagram Wheeling Artisan Center accounts, and is helping to build an e-commerce presence. She’s responsible for maintaining existing inventory while also recruiting new artists and products to keep the shop fresh.
Natalie graduated cum laude from Carlow University in Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature with a minor in art. She spent over a decade working as a proofreader and copywriter while pursuing her main passion as an independent artist.
Wheeling has a very diverse creative group of folks and I think it’s vital that they feel supported by the community. I’m thankful to be a part of an organization that aligns with that belief.”
Communications and Development Manager
Alex Panas joined the Wheeling Heritage team to support its fundraising and outreach efforts for both Wheeling Heritage and Weelunk. Prior to her role with Wheeling Heritage, Alex worked as a Marketing Specialist for Wheeling Hospital and Marketing Coordinator for The Health Plan. She serves as current board member and former president of Generation Wheeling and previously served as vice president of the Wheeling Young Preservationists.
Alex graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in Health Communication and earned a Master of Arts in Communication Studies from Ball State University.
The people in our community will always be what make it unique. Wheeling Heritage has played an integral role in telling Wheeling’s stories, and I’m so grateful to help continue this important work.”
Johnathon Porter grew up just a short drive away in Flushing, Ohio, before moving to Wheeling. In 2019, he joined Wheeling Heritage as a Digital Content Specialist. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Production from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. After graduating, he and Dillon Richardson co-founded a media production company that provided video and audio services to several organizations around the Ohio Valley.
It’s only fitting that a city with such compelling history has such a promising future. Wheeling continues to become a place of liveliness and opportunity. Our work helps the community stay connected.”
Digital Content Specialist
Dillon Richardson joined Wheeling Heritage in 2019 to extend the organization’s reach through the use of multimedia. Growing up in Moundsville, he has always been involved and engaged in the Wheeling community. He attended West Liberty University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Media Design. After graduating, he co-founded a media production company with our other digital content specialist, Johnathon Porter.
Our goal isn’t to just teach why Wheeling’s history is important. Our goal is to provide the resources and opportunities for the community to discover what that history means to them.”
Digital Content Specialist
Jennifer grew up in Charles Town, WV in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. She attended Shepherd University and graduated with a business administration degree. Jennifer brings a retail and customer service background with her to Wheeling Heritage.
Jennifer is the retail manager of the Artisan Center Shop in downtown Wheeling and the newly opened Artisan Center Shop located in the Carriage House at Oglebay Park.
The Artisan Center Shop spotlights the hard work of local artists and small businesses. This is vital to the success of our community, and I am proud to have a role in something so important.”
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jeanne H. Finstein, Ed.D. – Treasurer
Jay Frey – Secretary
Walker Holloway – Chair
Jason Koegler – Vice Chair
Zahra Mohebbi, Ph.D.
Patrick Cassidy, Emeritus
Jack Fahey, Emeritus
G. Randolph Worls, Emeritus
Larry Jones, Ed.D, Emeritus