Sarah Riley

Sarah Riley was born and raised in West Virginia. Sarah grew up here in Pocahontas County and then went off to conquer Harvard University. She graduated with honors with a BA in history with a focus on economic underdevelopment and a slew of theater experiences. She was a founding partner with Susan Burt in High Rocks and has been planning, teaching, counseling, fundraising, networking and building this place in one way or another since 1996. Sarah’s creative force, curricular leadership, organizational bent and instinct for people are an integral part of what High Rocks, an award-winning non-profit with transformational programs, community partners and regional development, is today. Sarah was named one of 40 under 40 emerging leaders in West Virginia in 2009, and in 2008 received the Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Community Organization. In 2014, WV Focus Magazine featured Sarah as one of West Virginia’s “Wonder Women” in their premiere issue.  In 2015, the Appalachian Studies Association awarded Sarah the prestigious Helen Lewis Community Service Award for outstanding community service to Appalachia and its people.  Sarah was honored as a 2015 Zenith Award winner for exemplary service the Greenbrier Valley of WV.  In 2017, Sarah and the High Rocks were awarded the state WV Red Wagon Award for helping WV children, and in 2019 Sarah was honored with the Power of Performance Award for changing lives across southern WV.  Sarah is dedicated to improving opportunity and access for young people and is a classic social entrepreneur in the region, growing High Rocks from a start-up to a $2 million per year non-profit that supports programs for thousands of young people each year and income-earning opportunities for approximately 125 teens, college students, and AmeriCorps members in WV working to improve their lives and communities.  Sarah has four children and lives happily on the family farm her husband grew up on, raising local meats, eggs and produce.