Gayle Conelly grew up in Beckley, the only child of Carl and Lucille Conelly. Active in the First Baptist Church, the Jerry Rose Dance Company and community service clubs, she graduated with high honors from Woodrow Wilson High School.
She attended West Virginia University, where she attained her Bachelor of Arts in Language Arts and Education and a Master of Arts in Reading. In 1999, she completed a second master’s specialization in Educational Technology Leadership from Salem International University.
While at WVU, Gayle met and married Joe Manchin III; upon graduation, they moved to Fairmont, W.Va., where they resided and worked for over thirty years. They have been married for 40 years and are the proud parents of Heather Manchin Bresch, Joseph Manchin IV, and Brooke Conelly Manchin. Now they are experiencing the wonders of being a Nana and Dadoo for their six beautiful grandchildren: Joey V, Kelsey, Madeline, Sophie, Chloe and Jack.
As an educator, Gayle had the opportunity to work in many Marion County Schools. She also served on the faculty of Fairmont State University and was the Director of the college’s first Community Service Learning Program. In addition, she was active in her children’s activities, the United Way, the Soup Opera, Quota and Junior League.
After moving to Charleston in 2001, Gayle became the West Virginia Director of the AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Program, which served 20 counties. Believing in the opportunities of connecting programs, Gayle, under the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts, implemented the WV PASS (West Virginia Partnerships to Assure Student Success) initiative. She has served as a national consultant for Dr. Ruby Payne, and is currently a national board member of The Center for Study of Economic Diversity, Inc. in Highlands, Texas.
In addition to her past duties as West Virginia’s First Lady, the Governor has appointed her to serve as a member of the State Board of Education to a term ending Nov. 4, 2015, and as a Commissioner on the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service. During his first administration, the Governor has appointed her as the Chairman of the Governor’s Healthy Lifestyles Coalition, Vice Chairman of the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Families, Citizens Advisory Council and a Co-Chairman on the Governor’s 21st Century Jobs Cabinet. She is as a partner on the WV Partnership to Promote Community Well Being Commission, serves as the Nominating Chairman on the executive board of The Education Alliance and a past president of the Vandalia Rotary Club of Charleston.