President and CEO
Travis Staton is the President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Southwest Virginia.
Over the past decade, he has worked to reposition the organization to a new model United Way by developing an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach creating sustainable solutions to better prepare the next generation for the workforce of tomorrow.
In addition to this change in focus, he has brought his efforts to scale by guiding the organization through eight different mergers and acquisitions to now overseeing geographic operations of 17 counties and 4 cities, nearly 20% of the Commonwealth.
His work has received recognition and support from national organizations including the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and, in 2017, the organization became one of the inaugural recipients of the Virginia Governor’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in Education. In 2018, he was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to serve on the Virginia Board of Workforce Development. That same year Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator, ranked his organization among the 10 best United Way Chapters of more than 1,200 nationwide.
Recently named by Virginia Business Magazine’s top 100 people to meet in 2020, he is serving with Ballad Health as one of the Lead Support Organizations to establish the region’s STRONG ACC, which is aimed at improving the economic, educational, and health outcomes of citizens living in 21 counties in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
In addition to his work with Ballad Health, he serves on the Region One Council for GO Virginia, a Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration;
Partnering for a Healthy Virginia Advisory Committee, a partnership between the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association aimed at improving Virginia’s performance on population health;
Partnering for a Healthy Virginia E-Referral Committee, developing a statewide electronic referral system between hospital systems and community partners utilizing a standardized social determinants of health screening tool;
Partnering for a Healthy Virginia Community Engagement Committee, advising on the inclusion of local health system providers and end-users in the planning, design, development and implementation of health care services in an effort to eliminate health disparities and improve long-term health and wellness for all Virginians;
Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia State Health Assessment/State Health Improvement Plan Advisory Council, assisting with the State Health Assessment (SHA) to examine the health status of Virginia and then providing guidance and oversight to the development of the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) to address the state’s most urgent concerns while ensuring health equity for all Virginians;
United Southeast Federal Credit Union’s Supervisory Committee, overseeing the annual audit and assuring that the assets of members are protected as required by the Federal Credit Union Act;
Southwestern Virginia Rural AHEC Center Advisory Board, developing pipeline programs for all health profession institutions to recruit students from rural and medically underserved populations in Southwest Virginia, instituting rural and small community based training, sponsoring inter-professional educational opportunities and Continuing Medical Education programs, and fostering health policy collaboration engagement programs for rural hospitals;
Virginia Early Childhood Foundation’s Data System Stakeholders, a team of key leaders assisting with the creation of a statewide early childhood integrated data system to better inform services provided to young children and families;
Virginia Department of Education School Readiness Committee Impact Workgroup, working to advise the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, Virginia Department of Education, and the University of Virginia in the research, planning and evaluation of a federal Preschool Development Grant (PDG);
Virginia Department of Education State Perkins V Core Stakeholders Team, providing input on key areas as part of the Virginia Perkins V four-year State Plan for strengthening career and technical education.
Mary Anne Holbrook
Vice President of Development and Outreach
Mary Anne Holbrook joined the team in 2016. With a background in non-profit management, Mary Anne oversees the Community Relations and Marketing & Communications Departments.
A passionate advocate for Southwest Virginia, Mary Anne develops strategies to grow the organization and bring resources needed to implement programs and initiatives. She leads the development and implementation of comprehensive development resource strategies. Mary Anne oversees the daily operations of Marketing & Communications, the corporate image of United Way of Southwest Virginia, public relations, and all external communications.
Mary Anne leads partnership development for the organization, working collaboratively with businesses, non-profits, and government agencies to bring support to the new model United Way. Mary Anne works across the organization to develop products, programs and initiatives to increase the community impact of United Way of Southwest Virginia.
Mary Anne has been a recipient of The TriCities 40 Under 40. She is an alumna of the inaugural class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, a comprehensive program of the Appalachian Regional Commission in partnership with Collective Impact, University of Tennessee Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, and Tuskegee University. A graduate of Radford University, Mary Anne holds a Master’s Degree in English with concentrations in Appalachian Studies and Business and Technical Writing. Mary Anne lives in Washington County, Virginia with her husband, Jon, and their children.
Vice President of Finance and Operations
Mark Seamon joined the team in 2015 as the Director of Finance. Prior to his role here, Mark served as the Director of Budget and Finance for Washington County, Virginia for a total of 33 years.
During his career with the county, Mark was called upon to serve as Acting County Administrator on various occasions. In the role of Director of Budget and Finance, Mark had the opportunity to work with United Way of Southwest Virginia along with many other charitable organizations.
Mark is a graduate of Virginia Tech where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1980. He has lived most of his life in Washington County and is a graduate of Abingdon High School. He and his wife reside in Bristol, Virginia.
Manager of Finance
Tina Camper, currently serving as the Finance Manager, supports the financial operating procedures to ensure financial strength of the organization. With a background in non-profit administration and small business development, Tina brings over 20 years of experience in the areas of finance & administration, small business operations, marketing and communications, and human resources.
Throughout her 18 year tenure at United Way of Southwest Virginia, she has committed to serving and nurturing the growth of this United Way and the families served by its’ programs and initiatives. In 2017, Tina was a recipient of the YWCA Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginias’ Tribute to Women award.
In addition, she graduated summa cum laude from Liberty University’s School of Business in 2020 with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accounting, is a member of and serves on the YWCA Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginias’ Tribute to Women Steering Committee and assists with her husbands two outdoor recreation companies located in Abingdon and Damascus, VA.
Tina enjoys spending time outdoors, photography, cooking and spending time with her family. She lives in Meadowview, Virginia with her husband, Jerry, and son, Cole.
Susan Patrick, Ph.D.
Director of Childhood Success
Joining the team in 2020 as the Interim Director of Childhood Success, Dr. Susan Patrick is a Southwest Virginia native with over 25 years experience working in the field of early care and education as a classroom teacher, an administrator, a teacher trainer, and a university professor.
She is the co-author of the book Being with Infants and Toddlers: A Curriculum that Works for Caregivers, and has studied responsive caregiving in high quality infant/toddler group care environments for many years.
Susan’s work has led her to Germany, Oklahoma, Singapore, and China, but she is thrilled to be back in Virginia and become part of the amazing work being done with children and families at United Way of Southwest Virginia!
Director of Youth Success
Melinda Leland joined the team as Manager of Youth Success in 2018, but recently transitioned into her new role of Director of Youth Success, where she continues to advance our mission to improve educational outcomes among Southwest Virginia’s workforce of tomorrow.
Melinda and her team lead the way with the Ignite Program to provide the middle and high school students in the region with tools for success in the areas of career planning, life skills curriculum, and hands-on learning. Prior to her role with United Way, Melinda served as the Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Virginia Highlands Community College.
Melinda is a graduate of Emory & Henry College with her B.A. in Business Economics and of Virginia Tech with her M.S.ED in Vocational and Technical Education where she also received her K-12 teaching license. She has experience in retail management along with nine years of experience as a Business Educator for Washington County Schools, and 17 years of higher education experience in the area of workforce development and academics.
Melinda and her husband, David, have three adult daughters, Taylor (husband Dillon), Haven, and Macie, and four grandchildren.
Director of Development
A lifelong resident of Washington County, Cristie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Accounting from Emory & Henry College.
Following a successful career in the public sector that included coordinating and provisioning telecommunications for the 2016 United States Vice Presidential Debate, she turned her passion for the residents of Southwest Virginia into a career.
Cristie joins the United Way team after serving Northeast TN and Southwest VA as a Development Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Cristie and her husband Jason were honored to welcome her mother, Debbie, into their home in April 2011. Together with rescue pup Charlee, the family resides in Abingdon.
Director of Operations
Leann Vernon, the Director of Operations, oversees the organization’s daily business activities, including IT, Human Resources, and managing the facilities, ensuring that procedures are carried out properly.
She evaluates organizational efficiency and make necessary changes to maximize staff productivity. She assesses the needs of the company and finds ways to contribute to the big picture by ensuring daily operations run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
Before joining United Way, she served as the Director of Foundation Relations for a medical ministry, BethanyKids. She managed all aspects of the grant funding, direct mail appeals, newsletters, company website and social media presence for BethanyKids.
Prior to her work for BethanyKids, she secured grant funding for Emory & Henry College, including grants for the college’s radio station, a research-quality greenhouse, a program for young women in science, an outdoor leadership program, the Literary Festival, and other infrastructure projects.
Leann also worked for Washington County Schools as the After School Project Coordinator, managing a US Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. She supervised more than 40 staff members and coordinated services with four principals at four project sites.
Leann graduated from Mary Washington College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and art history. She has worked in various nonprofits during her more than twenty-year career, with experience in program development, planning, management, and evaluation; marketing and communications; and fundraising.
Leann is a member of Abingdon Bible Church where she serves as a Sunday School teacher, Awana leader, and Bible study leader. She is the proud aunt of Chloe, Ian, Emmy, Tyler and Abbey.
Melvena was born and raised in Maui, Hawaii, and relocated to Southwest Virginia in December of 2010. Melvena has a diverse administrative background that includes working as an office manager for a security alarm company; an administrative assistant, executive assistant, and facilities coordinator at Hawaii’s oldest Hawaiian heirloom jewelry manufacturer; Human Resources administrative assistant for a large church body of 4000+; and for the last five years has served as an executive assistant supporting three to six hospital executives at Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon.
Melvena‘s hobbies include baking (she has a small home bakery), gardening where has approximately 40 lavender plants that each summer she drys the flowers for bouquets and makes a variety of lavender products. Melvena currently resides in Bristol, Virginia with her husband Mathew and their two fur-babies, Koa – a boxer/lab mix and Kalea – a purebred blue pit.
Childhood Success Senior Manager
Kristy Worley joined the team originally as Childhood Success Coordinator, but since then has transitioned into her new role of Manager of Childhood Success – Health Programs.
Kristy received a Bachelors Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies with a concentration in Secondary Education and endorsement in Earth Science from Emory & Henry College. Before joining the United Way team, she served as the Assistant Director at a local childcare center.
During her time with United Way of Southwest Virginia, Kristy has been the Regional Specialist for the Virginia Quality grant. She is responsible for coordinating professional development opportunities for participating providers while providing them with the technical assistance to either pursue the Child Development Associate (CDA) or obtain a 16 hour Child Studies Certificate. Kristy assists those providers with the scholarship application process for the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) Scholarship and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) Scholarship, Project Pathfinders. Kristy is also a Curriculum Specialist with Virginia Quality and Professional Development Specialist from the Council for Professional Recognition.
Kristy resides in Bristol with her husband, Kevin, their son Rhett and dog Quincy.
Danielle S. Dye
Danielle first joined United Way of Southwest Virginia in May 2012. She helped initiate and grow the original Smart Beginnings Program which now has evolved into the Childhood Success Department. She grew up in Kingsport, TN and went on to obtain her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Athletic Training from Emory & Henry College.
Danielle also attended Lincoln Memorial University where she earned both an additional Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education and her Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction.
Danielle fell in love with Southwest Virginia during her time at Emory. Danielle has come back to United Way of Southwest Virginia as the Community Resilience Specialist under the Childhood Success Department.
She will be working to share education around the importance of Developmental Screenings, continuing moving the work forward around Systems Building (formerly Smart Beginnings), as well as the impact that trauma can play in a child’s life.
Prior to her role with United Way, she helped implement the first Population Health Department for Ballad Health. Her role as Community Engagement Specialist allowed her to work with organizations, hospitals, and non-profits throughout Southwest Virginia and work to enhance a better quality of life for the citizens in our region.
Danielle has experience as an educator as well as in strategic planning and program development. Danielle recently got married to her best friend & husband, Chance. They reside in Bristol, VA where they love on their fur baby, a Labradoodle, named Rudy.
Manager of Youth Success
Crystal joined the United Way of Southwest Virginia team in 2012. She holds a Masters of Arts in Education with a concentration in Organizational Training and Education from Tusculum College, as well as, a Master of Business Administration from King College.
She also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Management. She has completed specific coursework in credit counseling with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors. Her background before coming to United Way of Southwest Virginia was in business development.
This included business loans for small businesses, developing and administering business training, business plan development with clients and technical assistance. Prior to this role, Crystal managed a local physician practice.
She currently serves as the Youth Success Coordinator in the Ignite Program, partnering with school systems throughout the region to work on barriers that influence youth success, as well as, what resource partnerships can be made to assist the overall success of the student.
This includes working with key school personnel, area businesses and agencies throughout the region to make the assistance as specific to the student/school as possible. The collaboration she has developed within the community has been remarkable and assisted with full placement of the Ignite Program in 16 school systems after only piloting the program in three schools the year before. This has included developing program material, organizing meetings, events and site visits with each of the schools.
In her leadership, she has successfully launched the Educators in Industry tours taking teachers into the workplace to learn more of what the local employers need from their future workforce. She also created and developed the Careers Expo for Youth for 7th grade students in Southwest Virginia.
In its first year, over 4,000 students visited to participate in hands on learning activities to learn more about careers in Southwest Virginia. In this capacity, she oversees over 80 Ignite Coordinators within the program. These individuals are school personnel who were designated to assist in the implementation of the Ignite Program at their school.
Manager of Employer Engagement & Support
A native of Connecticut, Johnice spent summers in Abingdon as a child and moved here full time more than 20 years ago. Johnice is an alumna of King University. There she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She brings more than twenty years of customer service and management experience to the United Way.
Before joining the United Way, Johnice was employed by the Town of Abingdon for more than seven years, most recently serving as the Human Resources Administrator.
At United Way, Johnice serves as the Manager of Employer Engagement and Support, where she leads the development of the Employer Sponsored Childcare Benefit program. Johnice brings experience from the private and government sectors to the public-private partnership model designed to bring talent attraction and retention solutions to regional employers.
Marcia Dempsey joined the United Way of Southwest Virginia team in August of 2020. She was born and raised in Johnson City, TN. Marcia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from East Tennessee State University. After college, she spent two years as a Community Organization and Economic Development Specialist with the Peace Corps in El Salvador.
After her service in the Peace Corps, Marcia worked for a small non-profit in Johnson City until moving to Talkeetna, Alaska to work for a small jet boat company. Marcia has spent the past three years as Development Programs Administrator for Friends of Southwest Virginia providing oversight and support for construction and technical assistance grants through federal, state, and private funds. Marcia now resides in Bristol, TN with her pets.
Laura joined the team in August of 2020. Graduating from Northeast State Technology Community College in 2004, Laura holds an Associate’s Degree in Education. Laura has over 20 years in customer service and financial/banking experience. She brings plenty of knowledge of working with children at daycare, teaching Sunday school and helping in other children’s ministries. Laura loves encouraging people and giving a helping hand.
Laura has been on several mission trips to Jamaica, where she taught vacation bible school and was a part of the drama team through her church. In her free time, she loves journaling, writing poetry, scrapbooking and painting. Laura enjoys traveling to visit her family that lives in Charleston, SC and Shallotte, NC near the beach, where she spends most of her summer vacations. Laura is a single mother of two girls ages 10 and 12, who she loves to make memories and experiences with.
Manager of Marketing and Communications
Born in the heart of Appalachia, Ryan grew up in Richlands, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts & Science in Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Music Technology from Virginia Tech, as well as an Associate of Arts & Science with a specialization in Music from Southwest Virginia Community College.
Ryan comes to United Way of Southwest Virginia after working to help tell the stories of Appalachia, while keeping the region informed as a producer at WCYB in Bristol. Whether traveling the region watching local high school sports, finding those “off-the-beaten-path” Mom ‘n Pop restaurants, or just taking a Sunday cruise, Ryan has developed a love of our corner of God’s country that has fostered a deep knowledge base of the communities from Ewing to Radford. Ryan is excited to continue advocating for the people of the Appalachian Highlands that helped mold him while working to grow the region through his work with United Way.
Ryan lives in Bristol, Virginia with his loving wife of five years, Jennifer, his son (JP) and stepson (James) and their dog Chelsea. When not telling the stories of these mountains, Ryan enjoys driving on the iRacing simulator, attending NASCAR races, bowling, Marvel movies, live music and attending games of his favorite sports teams: the Virginia Tech Hokies, Charlotte FC, Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets.
Manager of Childhood Success
Audrey holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Education with specializations in Curriculum Instruction and Adult Education. She also holds eight different technology certifications. She has held the position of Information Systems Director for American National University and for over 5 years she has been Kirk’s Blessings, LLC (Daycare and Preschool) Center Director.
Her early career centered on Computer Technology, including Geographical Information Systems, and Database Management which later grew into a career of educating adults in the technology field. Her passion has always been education and helping children.
Her center has been voted The Best of the Best by the local readers of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph for a total of 4 years. She shares her passion as a devoted volunteer for her church youth programs and in the past for the local high school band.
Manager of Childhood Success
Carolyn joined the UWSWVA team in 2016 as a Smart Beginnings Coordinator, but soon transitioned into the role of Childhood Success Coordinator, supporting child-care providers across the region. She has led many regional coalitions and work groups such as WIC, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and early literacy, and served as Virginia’s state lead for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Carolyn spent a good portion of her life in Cleveland, Ohio before moving to Abingdon in 2011. She has worked in nonprofit, mostly through the creative arts and education. She served as the Director of Education for Barter Theatre, and previously taught art in the schools with William King Museum of Art. Carolyn has extensive experience with collaboration and process improvement, creative thinking, problem solving, project management, and team leadership.
In July 2021, Carolyn was promoted to Manager of Childhood Success, overseeing the implementation of Virginia’s Quality Measurement and Improvement System, which directly supports all publicly-funded early childhood educators in the 21 localities, focusing on curriculum implementation and improving the quality of teacher-child interactions. She is a certified CLASS trainer and observer, and loves being able to make a difference in the lives of children, teachers, and their families through the work she and her team do every day here in Southwest Virginia. Carolyn lives in Abingdon with her husband, Nick, and their daughter, Calliope, who attends William and Mary.
Childhood Success Coordinator
Whitney joined the team in 2019 as a Childhood Success Coordinator. Prior to her work with United Way, Whitney served as a Manager for Kirks Blessing LLC, overseeing daily operations and frameworks for early childhood education. Eventually, it led her to a position as a Mentor for the Virginia Star Quality Initiative, where she provided classroom and individual training on child development and learning.
Whitney was raised in the heart of Appalachia in Bartley, West Virginia. She now lives with her two children and husband in Pilot, Virginia. She attended Bluefield State College where she studied Elementary Education. Whitney is also a current member of Blue Ridge Church where she serves on the First Impressions team. In her spare time, she enjoys being outside and spending time with her family.
Childhood Success Coordinator
Cathy Chapman joined the team in 2020 as a Childhood Success Coordinator. Cathy was born in South Bend, Indiana, and grew up in Washington County, Virginia. Cathy now lives in Saltville with her fiancé, Michael, and two fur babies, Abbie and Lucy. She has two adult sons, Jeffery and Marcus, and a beautiful granddaughter, Marissa.
Prior to joining the team, Cathy worked in the local sewing factory industry until going back to college in 2000. She attended Virginia Highlands Community College and earned her Associates Degree in Administrative Support Technologies, Medical Office Specialist. She worked in a pediatric office until deciding several years later to pursue her passion of teaching.
In 2009, Cathy attended Virginia Intermont College and obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies PreK-6th grade with a Special Education Concentration. She did this while working as a Special Education Teacher’s Assistant in Smyth County Public Schools. In 2010, Cathy obtained a teacher position with Clinch Valley Community Action (CVCA).
After obtaining her teaching position, Cathy decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in 2013. Cathy then worked with CVCA as Head Start Teacher/Center Director and was most recently working as CVCA’s School Readiness/Instructional Coach.
Childhood Success Outreach Coordinator
Crystal is excited about her opportunity to be a part of the United Way team. She is a lifelong
resident of Washington County, VA and graduated from the Washington County leadership
program in 2020. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Bluefield
College. Crystal previously worked for 8 years at a non-profit in early childhood education.
During her 8 years, she worked as a Family Advocate, ERSEA/Transition Specialist, and
Mental Health/Disabilities Specialist. She also contributed to a 5 year strategic plan, a data
analysis team and was on an employee engagement council. Crystal also serves on the
Washington County Prevention Coalition along with other local committees.
Crystal resides in Abingdon with her husband and two sons ages 13 and 5. She is actively
involved at her church, Fletcher’s Chapel, where she is a Sunday school teacher. She enjoys
spending time with her family which includes hunting, fishing, and being a band mom.
Childhood Success Coordinator
Leslie has obtained a certificate from New River Community College in Early Childhood Development, holds a Child Development Associate® (CDA) Infant/Toddler credential and will complete her Associates in Early Childhood Development within the next year.
She has many years of experience working with children as a preschool teacher in various child care centers and worked with infants and toddlers in an Early Head Start classroom. She also worked as a center director for 4 years.
She has a passion for educating young children and finds joy in seeing each child develop to their fullest potential. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.
Mixed Delivery Specialist
Christine comes to United Way after 19 years as a director, most recently at Rainbow Riders Childcare Center in Blacksburg, Va. You may have also seen her visiting schools as a Virginia Quality Rater. She has undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and in Microbiology from Virginia Tech and a Masters certificate from ETSU in ECE focused on Emergent Curriculum.
Christine is the mother of 5 boys, now grown men in the USAF and the Space Force. She enjoys traveling to visit them wherever they are stationed and whenever possible. She is passionate about working with teachers while they navigate their individual journeys and is excited to help them see the value of remaining in the field. Her hobbies include cooking, gardening, and anything involving the outdoors.
Community Resilience Coordinator
Born and raised in Southwest Virginia, Bethany obtained her Associate's degree from Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, VA in Business Administration. Before she began classes at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, she spent the summer working with Family Preservation Services in Abingdon, VA helping with children in the Therapeutic Day Treatment program summer camp. After this exposure to helping children with behavioral obstacles and psychiatric diagnosis, she changed her major from Business Administration to Psychology and the rest is history! Over the last 11 years, Bethany has worked throughout Southwest Virginia in the public school system helping children within the Therapeutic Day Treatment program to be able to maintain stability in the classroom. Bethany then expanded her work experience of helping children within the community by becoming a Therapeutic Foster Care Specialist at DePaul Community Resources in Abingdon, VA. For the last 3 years, Bethany has worked with Ballad Health in Bristol, VA at Ridgeview Pavilion on the acute psychiatric unit working as a Behavioral Health Case Manager.
Bethany currently lives in Bristol, TN with her husband Christopher and 2-year-old son Noah. They love spending time together and especially vacationing each summer at the beach in Florida.
Community Resilience Coordinator
Ryan is excited to be part of the United Way team. The South Dakota native has spent over a decade living in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. He brings with him more than 15 years of experience in education, theatre, and working with youth.
Ryan first made his way to Southwest Virginia to perform as a Barter Player at the historic Barter Theatre. After a three-year stint living and pursuing theatre in Minneapolis, MN, Ryan spent seven years with Barter Theatre’s award-winning education program, Project REAL.
While with the program, Ryan worked with students in grades K-12 in multiple states (Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, and South Dakota) to teach the social and emotional skills necessary for success in school, the workforce, and beyond.
Ryan would eventually create his own education program, Project Polaris, before joining United Way. He is grateful to be part of such a passionate team!
Community Resilience Coordinator
Lori was born and raised in Southwest Virginia. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Bridgewater College. Upon graduating from Bridgewater, she worked as an Admissions Counselor for Virginia Intermont College. While working full-time at VIC, Lori also completed courses for her teaching license. She then taught for several years at a private school in Bristol.
Before coming to United Way, Lori worked as an executive legal assistant at UPM Pharmaceuticals for 3.5 years. Lori currently lives in Abingdon, VA. She is a member of the Junior League of Bristol, a board member of the Bridgewater College Alumni Association, and a volunteer with Serving Orphans Worldwide.
Childhood Success Coordinator
Teresa joined the team on April 1st, 2021 as a Childhood Success Coordinator. Ms. Finch is a native of upstate South Carolina and moved to the Lowcountry of South Carolina while obtaining her Associates in Science. She then moved to Bristol, Tennessee where she completed her Bachelors of Science in Child and Family Studies at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.
She brings almost 19 years of experience in Early Childhood Education working at the ETSU Child Study Center as Lead classroom teacher.
In her prior position, she had a variety of responsibilities including overseeing classes of developing young children and instruction of University students. In this setting she contributed to the advancement of the whole child: physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially as they matured into lifelong learners.
As a lead teacher, she also worked with and supervised University students. Identifying their strengths and areas for improvement provided opportunities for her to develop training and mentoring competencies as well. She is a committed educator with a drive to help people of all ages learn.
That commitment and passion is also seen in her love and faith in God. She also has a dachshund named Madi and 4 adorable great-nephews and nieces who are recipients of her love. She enjoys being outdoors where you’ll find her walking, biking, or working in her yard.
Zac graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with degrees in Family Science and Strategic Communications. He has a deep passion for non-profit work as well as addressing the needs of communities to promote resilience.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Zac moved to Marion, Virginia, in 2021 and has quickly fallen in love with the area. In his free time he enjoys fishing, hiking, and rollerblading. Zac is incredibly excited about this position and the work that he does with United Way.
Childhood Success Finance Coordinator
Taylor joined the team in 2019 as the Administrative Assistant for Childhood and Youth Success. Taylor grew up in the small town of Dante in Southwest Virginia. She is a graduate of Clintwood High School, which has since then been consolidated.
Taylor attended Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap where she received an Associates Degree in General Studies. From there, she transferred to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, she received a Bachelors Degree in English. In her free time, Taylor enjoys reading and writing.
Childhood Success Administrative Assistant
Alice Schlichting grew up in Chilhowie, Virginia but moved to Lebanon, Virginia a little over a year ago when she got married.
She is a full-time student at Southern New Hampshire University where she is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Human Services. Alice is also a graduate of Virginia Highlands Community College where she earned an Associates' degree in accounting. She has been working as an accounts payable/receivable clerk for K-VAT Food Stores for the past two years.
When Alice has free time she enjoys streaming shows and movies with her husband or spending time with friends and family. She loves animals and has a cat named Blake and a Dog named Niki.
Childhood Success Coordinator
Kayla obtained an associate's degree in Human Services with a specialization in Early Childhood Development from New River Community College. After graduating, she served as the lead teacher in the laboratory preschool at NRCC, the Early Learning Center. One of her responsibilities included mentoring and assessing the Early Childhood college students and interns. While there, Kayla played an active role in the center going from a 2-star to a 4-star quality rating with the Virginia Star Quality Initiative. Kayla has a passion for the growth and development of young children, as well as supporting teachers to reach their highest potential as an educator.
Kayla comes to United Way with more than ten years of experience in higher education between Virginia Tech and New River Community College.
She resides in Pulaski County with her husband, three children, and two cats, Milo and Binx.
Childhood Success Coordinator
Amanda acquired a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Development with a minor in Leadership Studies from ETSU in 2016. Her heart for nonprofit organizations began ten years ago when she engaged with an adolescent outreach nonprofit called Young Life. She started as a volunteer, then a staff member, and now serves on the board focusing on at-risk teenagers in SWVA. Amanda brings a lot of experience in development, operations, and fundraising in the nonprofit world and has a desire for community impact. She must use her voice to advocate to ensure everyone has an equal chance at success, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or generational trauma.
Amanda is a Bristol native who married her high school crush. They reside in Bristol with their beautiful daughter and two rescue cats. She also loves to read, garden, and drink coffee.
Before joining the United Way of Southwest Virginia Team, Julie was a small business owner. While operating The Beef Jerky Outlet in Bristol, she was responsible for all aspects of the company, from hiring, training, ordering, and invoicing to payroll. Small business ownership also blessed her with the opportunity to meet and work with other business owners in the area.
She also worked with Great American Opportunites, where she helped students and student-athletes fundraise to meet their goals. Working with students and encouraging them to reach higher was an amazing experience.
Julie was born and raised in Bristol, VA, and attended VA Highlands Community College and Northeast State as a student of Business. In 2006 she married her high school sweetheart, Jimmy, who played professional baseball. Though they have lived across the country, they chose to return to Southwest Virginia. There is nowhere else they would choose to call home; this region is unique and special in so many ways. Julie and Jimmy are the proud parents of three boys, Porter, Palmer, and Patton, and a Goldendoodle named Moose.
Childhood Success Coordinator
Eboni has worked in childcare for over 20 years as a Teacher, Assistant, and Director. She is from West Virginia but has lived in Virginia for 13 years with her awesome husband of 21 years and their three children. Their family moved to Radford, VA in 2018 and they enjoy church, football, and spending family time together.
Currently she and her husband are Pastors over the Music Ministry at their local church as well as leading the children’s choir. She is very blessed to have had the journey of music and raising a family with her husband.
She was afforded the opportunity to be a stay at home mom while her children were younger which she believes has made the difference in their success in education as well as their development to be better individuals.
Once she entered back into the workforce, Early Childhood was always where the path led her. She is so thankful for the opportunity to work with such a wonderful program.