MONTGOMERY — James W. Spears, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, and the state’s Homeland Security Advisor, will be the guest speaker at the Upper Kanawha Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 21st annual banquet on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The theme of the event, to be held at the Student Center ballroom on the campus of the WVU Tech campus, is “Our American Homeland.”

The Upper Kanawha Valley’s Citizens of the Year also will be honored at the banquet. Honorees for the annual event are Gordon Billheimer and Linda Aguilar.

A native of Elkins, Spears was appointed to his current positions on Jan. 17, 2005, by the Honorable Joe Manchin III, Governor of the State of West Virginia.

Spears is a graduate of Davidson College in North Carolina where he earned his B.A. in History, as well as earning ROTC distinguished graduate honors. He earned a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California. He also is a graduate of the French military’s l’Ecole d’Etat-Major, Compiegne, France.

A 22-year veteran of the United States Army, Spears served in numerous capacities, including principal advisor to six United States ambassadors. As Director of Program Development for one of the U.S. Department of State’s largest aid programs to Africa, he negotiated with the governments of Kenya, Botswana, Senegal, Malawi, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia in developing individual assistance and development programs for each country.

He also served as U.S. Defense Attaché and acted on behalf of the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for U.S. political-military policies in Slovakia. His extensive experience also includes the coordination of congressional and public affairs for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

For more on the banquet, call the Chamber office at 442-5756.

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