Meshea L. Poore

Meshea L. Poore is the Vice President for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at WVU. As the Vice President, Poore leads the Division’s efforts to create, coordinate, administer and evaluate programming that is inclusive and supportive in order to achieve a sustainable environment that will attract and retain diverse and underserved faculty, staff and students.

Poore is a long-time champion of underrepresented people. An attorney who served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 2009 to 2014, she is an accomplished and sought-after motivational speaker, public and political leadership consultant and strategist. The Women’s Campaign Fund named her a “Game Changer” during her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives for the West Virginia 2nd Congressional District. In 2017, she became the first African-American woman to be named president of the West Virginia State Bar since its 1947 founding. Prior to operating her own practice, she was an attorney in the Office of the Kanawha County Public Defender in Charleston, West Virginia. Poore earned her bachelor’s degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and her law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She also graduated from the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.

Tom Heywood

Tom Heywood is the Managing Partner of Bowles Rice, acting as the firm’s CEO.  His responsibilities include leadership, management and administration of the firm. 

Tom has significant experience in health care, banking and corporate/commercial law, and is frequently called upon by clients and community leaders for advice on business matters related to acquisitions, divestitures and other transactional matters.  An experienced facilitator, he regularly assists businesses and organizations in the strategic planning process. 

As a former Chief of Staff to the Honorable Gaston Caperton, Governor of West Virginia, Tom has extensive experience working with government officials at the federal, state and local levels, and is the leader of the Bowles Rice Government Relations team. 

Tom serves on many charitable and non-profit boards, and actively participates in various business and economic development organizations and trade associations, including the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation, the West Virginia Roundtable (Chairman), the West Virginia Manufacturers Association (Government Affairs Committee Chairman), the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Vision Shared, Imagine West Virginia (Chairman), and the Kanawha County Library Foundation (Chairman).  He is a member of the Board of Directors of West Virginia University Health System, Inc. (Finance Committee Chairman) and the Board of Directors of West Virginia University Hospitals (Finance Committee Chairman).  

Tom is active as a leader in many civic initiatives and organizations, and has received numerous awards for his public service.

Ted Boettner

Ted focuses on pathways that bring sustainable economic development and shared prosperity to the region through research and analysis. Prior to joining ORVI, Ted was co-founding executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy where he authored dozens of publications on economic and energy issues and worked closely with policymakers and stakeholders to raise wages and benefits for thousands of people while also protecting important public goods, such as schools. Ted also helped launch the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, was primary member to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an advisory committee within the U.S. Department of Interior, and was named “one of the most influential business leaders” in West Virginia by The State Journal (WV). His work has been frequently cited in the West Virginia media, as well as the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other publications. Ted has taught political science and public policy at West Virginia University, where he received his undergraduate degree, and has served on the boards of various community organizations and nonprofits. He currently serves on the board of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority and Legal Aid of West Virginia. Ted received his master’s degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire and lives with his partner and two kids in Charleston, West Virginia. When he’s not being a policy wonk, Ted enjoys a nice whitewater paddle in West Virginia, running marathons, hiking at Dolly Sods, some political theory, and cooking for friends.

Sky Kershner

Sky Kershner, is the Executive Director of the KPCC Counseling in Charleston, WV, and is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at WVU School of Medicine, Dept of Behavioral Medicine. Sky has a Doctor of Ministry degree as well as a Masters in Clinical Social Work. Sky is a Member of MINT, the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, and is the Spiritual Leader of the Unity Church in Charleston.

Sky has received several awards for his professional work, including the WV Civil Rights Award and WV Counselor of the Year. Sky was a contributing author for the book “ACT Therapy for Pastoral Counselors,” edited by Steven Hayes, and his biggest “15 minutes of fame” moment is that he once appeared as a guest therapist on the Discovery Studios show “Hoarders.”

Michelle Foster

Dr. Michelle Foster is the President and CEO of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF). Before joining TGKVF, Michelle was the CEO of the Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action, Inc. (KISRA), a community-based, non-profit organization that strengthens West Virginia families through health, employment, asset development, and learning initiatives. Michelle’s original career was as a chemical engineer, most recently at Union Carbide Corporation.

Michelle’s chemical engineering undergraduate degree was conferred at City College of New York. Additionally, she has a doctorate in community economic development (CED) from Southern New Hampshire University and two master’s degrees – one in CED from SNHU and another in engineering management from Marshall University. Her doctoral dissertation was entitled, “The Contributions of Pre-Incarceration Experiences and Prison-Based Programs to Post-Release Employment Acquisition, Retention and Recidivism.” Most recently, she completed additional university-level studies in impact investing at the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School as well as in nonprofit management and leadership at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Through the years, Michelle’s work has been recognized locally and nationally. She has received many awards including the Woman of Achievement Award from the YWCA (2020); Living the Dream Award from the WV Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission (2016); Woman on a Mission Award from Union Mission (2016); Civil Rights Day Award from the State of West Virginia, Office of the Governor (2015); Dr. Martin Luther King, Humanitarian Award from the Saint Albans Ministerial Association (2015); Fatherhood Champion of Change recognition from President Barack Obama at the White House (2012); National Association of University Women, Charleston Branch, Leadership Award (2012); Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Theta Psi Chapter, Citizen of the Year (2012); Charleston Police Department, Award for Community Service (2011); U.S. Small Business Administration, Minority Business Champion (2009); and West Virginia State University, President’s Award for Community Service (2009).

Michelle lives a life of community service and is actively engaged with several organizations in West Virginia and the Appalachian region. She is a member of the WV Workforce Development Board and the Charleston Rotary. In the philanthropy sector, Michelle serves as a co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Appalachia Funders Network, board member of Philanthropy West Virginia, and founding member of African American Philanthropy in Action (a giving circle). She is the President of the Charleston-Institute (WV) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated and has been a member of the organization since 2011. Additionally, she has served as the Minister of Administration of Ferguson Memorial Baptist Church since 1997. Over the years Michelle also served on the boards of the WV Community Development Hub, Kanawha County Library, WV Center on Budget and Policy, WV Non-Profit Association, and Our Children Our Future.

Jennifer Wells

Jennifer Wells, MSW, is both an experienced organizer and social worker. With an extensive background working in child welfare, juvenile justice, community services, program development, and fundraising, Jennifer brings a skilled and multi-layered lens to her social justice and organizing work.

Having joined Our Future WV (then, WVHKFC) in 2015 as an organizer leading the Shared Use public health campaign, Jennifer later transitioned to youth development and leadership work as director of the Young WV program, before stepping into the role of executive director of OFWV. As a Black woman raised in the South (New Orleans, specifically) by a single mother, Jennifer brings her lived experience, passion, and knowledge to the work that not only gives her life but is her joy.

Jennifer serves as state chair for Care International and board president for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. In 2018, she was named Social Worker of the Year by the West Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Jennifer resides in Huntington, WV, with her amazing husband David. Traveling, eating, and listening to live music are favorite pastimes.

Kelly Allen

Kelly Allen is the Executive Director for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. She is a lifelong West Virginian who joined the WVCBP team in 2018. She holds a B.A. in political science and communications from West Virginia University and a Master of Public Administration from Penn State University. Kelly engages with residents, stakeholders, and lawmakers on health policy and issues that impact women and families. She leads the WVCBP’s federal safety net work to protect Medicaid and other vital public programs. Kelly represents the WVCBP on several coalitions and manages the Summer Policy Institute and the WVCBP’s advisory committee.

Rev. James Patterson

For the last twenty years, Reverend James Patterson has led the Partnership of African American Churches (PAAC) as its Founder and President/CEO.   PAAC is a 501c3 collaborative, nonprofit, faith-based community development corporation, based in Charleston, WV.  While the organization serves all communities, it intentionally targets African American communities throughout West Virginia.  Through his work with PAAC, Reverend Patterson focuses his attention on improving individual and community well-being by empowering individuals and congregational communities to achieve positive policy change.  In addition to his experience as a nonprofit leader and community change agent, Reverend Patterson has been a pastor for more than 32 years.  He received his MA in Sociology from Marshall University and his BA in Sociology from WV Institute of Technology. He also holds a Master’s of Arts degree in Applied Community Change and Conservation.  Reverend Patterson is an ordained Elder of the Church of Nazarene.  He serves as a director on multiple community-based boards, including Habitat for Humanity, WV Center on Budget and Policy, and the American Heart Association.  He is the founder of the Saving our Children Program.

Charlie Loeb

Charlie Loeb is a member of Jackson Kelly PLLC, where he leads the Firm’s Commercial Law Practice Group.  Charlie is a member of TGKVF’s Board of Trustees and former Chair of the Board. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the CAMC Foundation.   A former At-Large Charleston City Councilman and a former Chairman of the Charles M. Avampato Discovery Museum, he also has served as a member of the boards of directors of several community organizations.

Jane Powell

Jane Powell joined The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation in 2012. After a career in retail management, Jane now puts her marketing skills to work as the Foundation’s Communications Director. Jane is responsible for directing and administering all aspects of TGKVF’s marketing and communication programs as well as management of the Foundation’s special events. A native of Charleston, Jane grew up on the city’s East End and is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon. She is active in her community through volunteer work with several organizations, including the YWCA of Charleston and the Kanawha County Master Gardeners Program. Jane can often be found working in her garden or, as a contributor to regional publications, writing about her garden. She is also steward to a Little Free Library, which spreads her love of reading throughout her neighborhood and surrounding areas.