Kelli is both the Executive Director and a founding member of Think Kids. She began working in the nonprofit sector in 1999, advocating for public education, then for kids’ health issues since 2004. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the West Virginia School-Based Health Assembly, and as the Director of Child Health for West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
She is a fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, studying the linkages between health care and public education in rural West Virginia with researchers from Penn State University and Child Trends. More on Team West Virginia can be found on the IRL website.
Kelli is a vocal advocate for kids’ health in our state and can be heard and read frequently in statewide media. In 2019, she received the West Virginia Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics’ Friend of Children Advocacy Award. She presents on the national and state levels to a variety of organizations about the health care needs of West Virginia’s kids. Most often, you can find her on Twitter.
Michael R. Brumage, MD, MPH, FACP, FACPM
Dr. Brumage is the Medical Director for Cabin Creek Health Systems and Program Director for the WVU School of Public Health’s Public Health/General Preventive Medicine Residency and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the WVU School of Medicine. He is Co-Chair of the West Virginia Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Coalition. He is motivated to improve the lives of children and communities through educating the public on the profound impact of ACEs and the interaction with the social determinants of health. His deep interest and work in mindfulness provides a pathway to improving mental and physical health at an individual and community level.
He was formerly Assistant Dean for Public Health Practice and Service in the WVU School of Public Health, Executive Director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, and Health Officer for Kanawha County and Putnam County, West Virginia and Director, Office of Drug Control Policy for West Virginia. He has worked as a consultant for five seasons with the West Virginia University Mountaineer Football Strength and Conditioning Staff teaching mindfulness as a means to improve performance and concentration. His prior student-athlete participants include All Americans, All Big XII, and current NFL players. This work was published in Training and Conditioning in December 2015.
He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry (cum Laude) from West Virginia University (WVU) in 1982 and graduated from the WVU School of Medicine in 1986. He received his Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Washington in 2003. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Brumage retired as a Colonel from the United States Army in 2015 after 25 years of service as an internal medicine physician and later as a public health physician. He deployed twice to the Balkans and from 2004-2005 to Tikrit, Iraq with the First Infantry Division as the Division Surgeon, the equivalent of chief medical officer. He holds three Legion of Merit medals and a Bronze Star, among other awards, from his service.
Andrea Darr is the Director of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice which promotes and supports a statewide trauma informed response to child maltreatment and children’s exposure to violence. The Center, housed in the Crimes Against Children Unit at the West Virginia State Police, streamlines resources and minimizes duplicative efforts to address challenges, barriers, gaps and needed improvements in working child maltreatment cases. The Center includes the WV Children’s Justice Task Force and the WV Handle with Care Initiative. Before devoting her work full time on children’s initiatives, Andrea served as the Coordinator of Victim Witness Services for the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute from 2005-2015. In that capacity she coordinated with prosecution based victim witness assistance programs as well as community based programs to improve their collective knowledge concerning available resources and information and to establish a bridge between local, state and federal agencies regarding victim issues. Andrea has also worked in direct services with victims of crime, violence and abuse while serving as the Victim Advocate at the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Andrea is a nationally-sought speaker on the Handle with Care program, now implemented in 28 states and three countries. Her work was most recently recognized with an Innovation Now Award by the Addiction Policy Forum.
Candice Hamilton, MPH
Candice Hamilton is the Assistant Director of Project WATCH/West Virginia’s Birth Score Program in the Department of Pediatrics at West Virginia University and the Executive Director of the West Virginia Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. Candice is also the Period of PURPLE Crying liaison for Our Babies Safe and Sound and works to recruit/engage pediatricians in the statewide campaign.
Since completing her Master of Public Health degree at WVU in 2004, she has worked closely with West Virginia maternal and infant birth outcome data, substance use during pregnancy, and public health policy. Through her experience as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and foster parent, she has developed a passion for advocacy to protect and improve kids health in our state.
Candice is a staunch advocate for kids’ health. She coordinates an annual Tiny Hearts Day at the Capitol– a West Virginia American Academy of Pediatrics Day of Advocacy.
Brittany Smith is a student at the West Virginia University School of Public Health who will be pursuing a PhD in Public Health Sciences. She will be graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. During her undergraduate career, she did extensive research that focused on childhood adversity and substance misuse in women. She has a special interest in studying the consequences of substance use crises on children due to her own childhood experiences. Her experiences have made her self-motivated to prevent the suffering and intergenerational transmission of trauma in this population.
Brittany’s work has been presented at local, national, and international conferences and meetings. She also does advocacy work at the national level to ensure children have access to high quality early education. Other works include designing curriculums to educate providers and families on the impact of adverse childhood experiences. Through research, advocacy, and education, Brittany hopes to ensure that children are not marginalized and forgotten during traumatizing circumstances.
Barbara Wessels, MS
Barbara Wessels is a marketing and communications strategist with a passion for public health.
As part of the leadership team for UniCare, Barbara partners with organizations to promote health and wellness. She was recognized in the 2016-2017 Medicaid Health Plans of America’s Annual Best Practices – Promising Initiative for her work increasing well-child visits in a school-based setting.
Formerly the marketing director for CAMC and Kay Casto and Chaney, Barbara has a BA from the University of Charleston, an MS for Western Governors University in management and leadership. She is a graduate of Leadership West Virginia and is a board member for the American Heart Association, Great Rivers Affiliate in Charleston, WV.
Barbara’s public service began many years ago with the Junior League of Charleston, a service organization focused on volunteerism, working with women and children. Previously, she has been a board member for Daymark, Inc. and has volunteered with the West Virginia Symphony League.