Stephen Smith has been named the new West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition Executive Director. Prior to coming to Healthy Kids, Stephen was the director of organizing for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and is the author of Stoking the Fire of Democracy: Our Generation’s Introduction to Grassroots Organizing. A graduate of Harvard University and the London School of Economics, Stephen has worked with a wide range of communities – from running a for-profit bakery operated by people with disabilities to founding a youth advocacy organization that won victories on health care and financial aid. Born in Charleston, Stephen and his family are thrilled to be back home in West Virginia.
Youth and Legislative Director
Christopher “Chris” Kimes is the Political Director for the Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. As political director, Chris works with the Our Children, Our Future: Campaign to End Child Poverty issue teams in advancing their legislative priorities with the WV Legislature. Additionally, Chris also works throughout the state in engaging youth and young adults in their communities and with the campaign. Prior to his current position, Chris served as the Director of the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network. In that role, Chris worked to ensure that youth receive quality afterschool experiences and helped to educate policy makers on the importance that afterschool plays within a child’s development and community. Kimes was selected as a 2012 National Afterschool Fellow and helped the National Statewide Afterschool Network’s in promoting and advocating for their new Expanding Minds project. Prior to becoming the Director, Chris was the field site coordinator for the Health Science and Technology Academy, the state’s premier high school afterschool program. Additionally, Chris holds a professional teaching certificate in Secondary Education and has worked for both Wood County and Kanawha County Schools. Before HSTA, he was employed with West Virginia University at Parkersburg in various capacities within the Student Services Division. Politically, Kimes has served as an advocate for West Virginia’s youth and families for many years. He has been involved in various national, state, and local campaigns and sought political office himself two years ago. Kimes holds a masters degree in Educational Leadership Studies from West Virginia University, a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Ohio Valley University, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science/History from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Carey Jo Grace
Carey Jo Grace joined WVHKFC as a regional organizer in October, 2013. She grew up in Pittsburgh and earned degrees in biology and teaching at Eastern Kentucky University. She stayed in eastern and central Kentucky for over twenty years and spent much of that time as an activist and organizer around social, economic, and environmental justice issues. Carey lives in Charleston where she spends her free time hiking and biking with her son Aidan and partner Bill.
The counties in her service area include Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne.
LeeAnn Shreve is West Virginia Healthy Kids & Families’ Eastern Regional Organizer. She became a mother and wife at age eighteen and can truly understand the challenges families and children in poverty face. After raising her two children, Curtis and Adrianne, she earned her RBA from West Virginia University and her MS in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University. As a community outreach specialist, she has over 20 years experience in working with educational and non-profit organizations in West Virginia. Prior to coming to the Coalition, LeeAnn served Director of the Future Generations Rural America Program. She is a lifelong resident of Pendleton County and resides there with her husband, Richard, and their two black Labrador retrievers.
The counties in LeeAnn’s service are are Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, Grant, Tucker, Pendleton, Randolph, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Webster, Nicholas, Summers, and Raleigh.
Jennifer Wells is the schools organizer with West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. Her focus is working to connect local WV communities, community and schools through community use of school facilities initiative. Jennifer co-leads the Young WV movement developing young leaders across the state through the Our Children, Our Future Student Chapters. With over ten years of social work experience, Jennifer has worked in child welfare, juvenile justice and Medicaid Disabled Waiver programming. She also, currently, serves on several statewide non profit boards.
Amy Jo Hutchinson
Amy Jo Hutchison is the Northern Region Organizer for West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. Amy Jo has always lived in West Virginia and resides in Wheeling. Being raised by a single mother and, in turn, raising two daughters of her own alone for more than eleven years now, Amy knows firsthand the struggles and obstacles faced by children and families living in poverty. Amy Jo has worked with at-risk populations since the age of 16, ranging from the elderly to the homeless. Some of her favorite successes are associated with her years as an infant/toddler teacher for Early Head Start. She has served as a volunteer in various leadership roles in an effort to raise awareness and provide opportunities for those struggling with socioeconomic issues. Amy Jo designed and served as the leader for Borrowing A Dad (BAD) ministry which serves single mom families as a whole through volunteer male mentors, who served as borrowed dads for the children, and small group discussion for the moms. Having a heart to serve and empower others lead her to return to college two years ago, and she will graduate from Kaplan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services-Child and Family Welfare in May, 2017. She is excited to work with Our Children Our Future in this role and views it as a way of advocating for thousands. Her daughters, ages 10 and 13, are her oxygen and her motivation to keep moving forward. Together they learn, serve, and explore.
Families Leading Change Director
Charlotte Norris recently joined the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition as the program director for Families Leading Change, a state-wide family engagement initiative. Ms. Norris is an education advocate with over 30 years of experience in nonprofit management, public relations and fund development. She has served as a senior staff member with multiple Girl Scout councils. She is a founding member of the Burke Street Promise Neighborhood Initiative. Ms. Norris also serves on the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation Board and the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle Board of Directors where she oversees the grant allocation process.
Director of Federal Programs
As the Director of Federal Programs, Kristen is building the opportunity for the amazing youth of West Virginia to develop and use their leadership skills as members of the Healthy Kids and Families Collaboration AmeriCorps team. In addition, she will be overseeing the Strong Communities grant and other federal opportunities.
Kristen is a native of Southern West Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Social Work from Concord University where she is currently an adjunct professor. She went on to earn her Masters of Social Work from West Virginia University. The highlights of Kristen’s work focus on community youth development. She served as a substance abuse counselor for adolescents at Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center, Executive Director of The Alcove Youth Shelter and Community Counseling Center, Southern Regional Director of Catholic Charities West Virginia, and Program Director of ChildLaw working directly with the Teen Court program. In 2016, Kristen did a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Step by Step program where she started her work nearly 30 years ago.
Her work with strengthening communities is always inspired by her most important role as mother to three amazing young men, Noah, Isaac, and Kevin.
Kasey is the Administrative Director at West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. She was raised in Charleston and returned after spending 10 years in Washington, DC. She has a master’s degree from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. Prior to joining WVHKFC, Kasey worked for the U.S. International Trade Commission and Scripps Networks Interactive. But, it was her passion for volunteer work for the Junior League of Washington that led her to her current position with WVHKC. In her role as Administrative Director, Kasey focuses on office management, fundraising, and communications. She lives in Charleston with her husband and daughter.
Director of Try This
Kate Long, co-director of Try This West Virginia, oversees the year-round Try This program and conference. A Fayette County native, she is a former national award-winning journalist, with stints as a public school teacher and supervisor, counselor for runaway teens and home teacher for families with disabled toddlers. She has won national awards for her songwriting, video editing, radio production and a book on special education, Johnny’s Such a Bright Boy, What a Shame He’s Retarded. She likes to paint pictures, cook, and make hand-built pottery.
Deputy Director of Try This
Kayla Hinkley is the Deputy Director of Try This WV. As a West Virginia native she was born and raised in Hurricane. She graduated in May 2016 after just four years from West Virginia Wesleyan College with her bachelor’s degree in International Business and her MBA in Nonprofit Management. As co-chair of the tobacco free initiative at WVWC she is very proud Wesleyan is now a tobacco free campus. Kayla loves to travel and has studied abroad in Fukuoka, Japan and visited Mexico City, Mexico as well. Prior to joining the Try This team, Kayla worked at the Barboursville Target as the Executive Team Leader for the Salesfloor. She lives in Scott Depot with her two cats, Cleo and Willow, and her partner Garrett.
Coordinator for Try This and Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits Network
Joshua Sowards is a Coordinator for Try This WV and the Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits Network. Both groups are working to knock West Virginia off the top of the worst health lists! He’s a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and an avid believer that our bodies are a temple of God. He wants us to care for them to serve other with His love. He and his wife Desiree are worship leaders at First Baptist Church of Kenova where they and their two daughters, Aslyn and Lila enjoy fellowship and changing the church’s culture on food and physical wellness.
School Wellness Parent Coordinator/Organizer
I am “Just a Parent”! That is what Jenny Anderson was thinking when she first started volunteering at her youngest daughter’s elementary school. Sure, she could read to a classroom and make treats for parties. If she was really lucky, she might even get to make photo copies for her daughter’s teacher. That was the extent of her involvement as a parent at a school when her first three kids went through the school system over a span of 20 years.
Over the past few years, she has created numerous wellness activities and events in the school with the support of the principal and staff. She created the WV Parents for wellness network that includes a fun and informative website, www.wvparents4wellness.com that provides parents and new wellness coordinators with a plethora of free information on policy and how to get wellness implemented into a school environment.
Along side her partner organization Try This WV she has started to help to “connect the dots of wellness” between school & community.