College of Law Center for Energy and Sustainable Development

Keynote Speaker

Joe Manchin

United States Senator
West Virginia

J_Manchin U.S. Senator Joe Manchin was sworn into the United States Senate on November 15, 2010 to fill the seat left vacant by the late Senator Robert C. Byrd. For Senator Manchin, serving as West Virginia’s Senator is truly an honor and a privilege.

Born and raised in the small coal mining town of Farmington, W.Va., Sen. Manchin grew up with West Virginia values of common sense, fairness and hard work. From his days as a state legislator to his current position, Senator Manchin worked as and continues to be a bipartisan team builder who encourages cooperation and values all input.

A small businessman, he inherited this spirit of cooperation and his head for business from his grandfather, who was an Italian immigrant and the town grocer. His grandmother was a virtual one-woman social services agency who helped him develop an untiring compassion for others.

As he has done throughout his career in public service, Sen. Manchin has and will work with all interested parties to find commonsense solutions to the problems our country faces and to usher in a new bipartisan spirit in the Senate and the Congress.

Job creation is Senator Manchin’s top priority, and he believes that government should be a partner, not a provider. West Virginians are hard workers who are looking for a work permit, not a handout. Senator Manchin also firmly believes that we must put our fiscal house in order, and will continue to advocate for commonsense ways to cut spending that will not increase the debt burden on our children and grandchildren. Senator Manchin is committed to developing a balanced energy policy that establishes energy independence within this generation, and believes in the critical importance of keeping our promises to seniors and veterans.

Senator Manchin currently serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Special Committee on Aging – three critical committees that tackle the important work of addressing our nation’s energy needs, standing up for the members of the military and keeping our promises to seniors.

He began his tenure as West Virginia’s 34th governor in January 2005. Then-Governor Manchin approved millions of dollars in tax relief for West Virginia’s citizens and businesses, fixed the state’s workers compensation system, established the first comprehensive teacher pay package in more than 15 years and dramatically decreased the state’s debt. In six short years, more than $13 billion in business investments were made, and West Virginia was often cited nationally for its strong fiscal management. Then-Governor Manchin ended every year with a budget surplus.

Throughout his tenure as Governor, he served in several leadership capacities on various associations, including: Chairman of the National Governors Association, Chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, President of the Council of State Governments, Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and Chairman of the Southern Governors Association.

Sen. Manchin served as Secretary of State from 2000 to 2004, and his office was known for excellent customer service. He was a state legislator from 1982 to 1996, where he earned a reputation for standing up for West Virginians.

Sen. Manchin became a successful businessman after attending West Virginia University on a football scholarship.

Sen. Manchin is an avid pilot, outdoorsman, hunter, angler and motorcyclist. He has been married since 1967 to the former Gayle Conelly of Beckley. They have three children: Heather, Joseph IV and Brooke, and are the proud grandparents of Joseph V, Sophie, Kelsey, Madeline, Chloe, Jack and Carly.