Born and raised in Kenova, West Virginia, Brad D. Smith had dreams and aspirations that took him far away from his mountain home. With a mind for innovation and backbone for perseverance, Smith set out into the business world, holding close to the things that matter most and lessons learned from his home among the hills. Smith reached the greatest heights in Silicon Valley, as the CEO of Intuit, leading brands like TurboTax and QuickBooks to become household names. With a shared vision, Smith put in decades of hard work and determination alongside his wife Alys, who is an achieved attorney and visionary leader. Smith found that what drove him to greatness was also the thing that called him back: his West Virginia home.
Seeing the problems faced by modern remote workers Brad and Alys Smith came to a realization: a slower pace and high quality of life, paired with limitless outdoor adventure makes West Virginia the perfect place to work remotely. The hills of West Virginia are no stranger to innovation, with mountain towns full of visionaries and growth in areas like tourism, sustainable development and next-level transportation. With clear eyes and a full heart, the Smiths made a transformational $25 million donation to West Virginia University, naming the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative. In partnership with the State of West Virginia, Ascend WV was born.
Ascend WV is more than a remote work program. It is a vision of a better way of living in a place that gives to you more than it takes back. Through Ascend WV, the nation’s remote workers can build a new life in the mountain towns of West Virginia. With incredible incentives like $12,000 and a year of free outdoor recreation with access to complimentary gear rentals, the Ascend WV offer is one that cannot be matched. Paired with a dreamy quality of life and unbeatable cost of living, Ascend WV offers remote workers the opportunity to choose a life worth living.
Brad D. Smith
Raised in small-town Kenova, Brad D. Smith is a champion for all things West Virginia. After receiving an education at Marshall University, Smith set his sights on Silicon Valley. Moving up quickly with several major brands, Smith joined Intuit in 2003. After years of hard work and honing his craft, Smith became the CEO of Intuit, a position he held until 2018. In addition to serving as a chairman on the boards of Intuit, Nordstrom and Survey Monkey, Smith is now working alongside of wife, Alys Smith, to shed light on his beloved home state. Proud of his West Virginian roots, the former Silicon Valley CEO often introduces himself simply as Brad from Kenova.
Alys Smith is a co-founder of the charitable foundation, Wing 2 Wing Foundation, with her husband, Brad. The foundation focuses on education, entrepreneurship and equal opportunities for all in the overlooked zip codes, primarily in West Virginia and Ohio.
Alys is the founder of a mediation business, Better2Mediate, in which she offers her mediation services to people seeking conflict resolution as opposed to litigation. In addition, she serves as a mediator in many Northern California courts and has privately mediated since 2012. Alys sits on the Board of the New Opportunity School for Women in Kentucky, a nonprofit that empowers women to overcome past traumas and heal. They offer programs that allow women to build self-confidence and take steps toward education, employment and financial independence.
Governor Jim Justice
A Raleigh County native, Governor Justice is a West Virginian through and through. With an education from Marshall University and Greenbrier Military Academy, Gov. Justice built a career in farming and energy. Yet, he always had a profound pull to give back to West Virginia through his time, talents and resources. In 2017, he was elected as the 36th governor of the State of West Virginia and has spent his tenure finding ways to grow tourism, enhance statewide infrastructure, develop new educational opportunities and set a bright fiscal future of West Virginia. With the future of remote work on the mind, Gov. Justice pulled in the help of the Departments of Tourism and Economic Development to bring the Ascend WV vision to life.
West Virginia Department of Tourism
The West Virginia Department of Tourism works with industry partners to build and promote a world-class tourism destination that provides jobs, stimulates investment, grows existing businesses and promotes a positive image of the state as a place to visit, go to college, live, work and retire. Bringing to the table elements of the state’s beloved #AlmostHeaven brand, the Department of Tourism joined the Ascend WV team.
West Virginia University
Deep within the heart of Mountaineer Country, West Virginia University is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture that advances education, healthcare and prosperity for all by providing access and opportunity. Guided by high-impact research West Virginia University leads transformation in West Virginia and the world through local, state and global engagement.
Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC)
With generous support from Brad and Alys Smith, the Smith OEDC works to use West Virginia’s outdoor assets to ignite the economy, develop world-class recreational infrastructure and expand outdoor educational opportunities.Learn More about the Smith OEDC