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 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.
Leann Vernon, the Director of Accountability and Strategic Impact, develops key performance indicators to assess implementation of United Way of Southwest Virginia’s business strategy, creates coordinated processes for data collection, provides analysis and reporting across the business, and devises opportunities for leaders across the organization to quickly learn from data. Leann creates and leads a communications and public relations strategy that advances UWSWVA’s impact strategies with key audiences and influencers from multiple sectors (government, non-profit, business, academia), media, the general public and employees.
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 fund raising.
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.
Mary Anne Holbrook joined the United Way team in May 2016. With a background in non-profit fundraising and management and education, Mary Anne helps build and sustain resources for our community initiatives. She has worked in all facets of fundraising including donor development and stewardship, grant writing, governmental relations and events. Immediately before joining United Way, Mary Anne helped launch new graduate medical education programs at Johnston Memorial Hospital. 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.
Robyn joined the team in 2018 as the Director of Childhood Success. Prior to her work with United Way of Southwest Virginia, she served as Center Director of Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center (Abingdon, VA) helping youth and adults of the region, as well as tourists, enjoy experiential learning opportunities. A native of southwest Virginia, Robyn moved back over ten years ago to work as Director of Appalachian Arts Center (Richlands, VA) and then worked at Barter Theatre as an Advancement Officer.
Robyn has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in textile design (minor: drawing and painting) from Moore College of Art and Design (Philadelphia). Prior to returning to Southwest Virginia, she was a Core Fellow at Penland School of Crafts (NC). She recently completed her Master’s Degree in Natural Resources through Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability. She has journeyed through a non-linear career thriving on problem-solving and new experiences. Robyn enjoys time in her art studio and traveling while striving toward balance and practicing yoga. Since returning to Southwest Virginia she has realized both the joys and challenges of growing up in the region. Believing that the positive impact made on children and youth are key to both personal and community well-being, Robyn loves having the opportunity to serve the region as Director of Childhood Success with United Way of Southwest Virginia.
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, Haven, and Macie, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.
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.
Tina serves as the Manger of Finance. She was born and raised in Abingdon, Virginia, and studied Business & Economics from King University. Tina is currently pursuing an Accounting degree from Liberty University. Tina has been with United Way of Southwest Virginia since 2002, working in various positions throughout the organization. In her role as Manager of Finance, she oversees the organization’s finance, marketing and resource development departments, office and technology management, and human resources. Tina enjoys photography, traveling, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with her family. She lives in Meadowview, Virginia with her husband Jerry and son, Cole.
Debbie McCroskey joined the team in 2019 as Manager of Community Relations. Deborah is a native of Washington County, Virginia. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Milligan College. Deborah also attended the University of Tennessee School of Law. She has over 20 years of experience in business development specializing in the cultivation and advancement of partnership initiatives. While with GE Healthcare, Deborah oversaw the application of strategic channel marketing distribution and partnership plans for GE’s cardiovascular imaging systems in the Southeastern region of The United States. Most recently, in her role as Director of Corporate and Government Relations for Barter Theatre, she successfully increased their 2018 sponsorship level by 18% through the introduction of corporate awareness initiatives.
Shauna has been on the team since 2017 as Community Relations Coordinator. She was born and raised in Southwest Virginia, where she received her Associate’s of Art Degree with a major in Education from Virginia Highlands Community College in 2013, and her Bachelor’s of Art Degree with a double major in Political Science and History from Emory & Henry College in 2016. Shauna has worked with multiple nonprofit organizations, including Sprouting Hope Community Garden and Appalachian Community Fund, and co-founded the organization A Reason to Play in 2013. She most recently worked as the Program Assistant at the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing.
Shauna now resides in Abingdon, Virginia with her husband, Dustin, and their daughter Tilly Wren.
Jennifer joined the team as Community Relations Assistant in 2018. She has an Associate Degree in Legal Assisting through Virginia Highlands Community College. She has worked for Boise Cascade/OfficeMax for 17 years where she was responsible for multiple roles in data entry, sales support, contract maintenance, account set up, reporting, quality control and customer service. During her time in higher education, she held the position of administrative assistant for the Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students at Emory & Henry College where she enjoyed supporting many of the different departments on campus from academics to athletics. Jennifer has also held roles at UVA-Wise, where she supported the Business Economics and Psychology Department. Her most recent position was Executive Assistant for the Southwest Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Abingdon.
Today she resides on a farm in Abingdon with her husband, Kevin, two children, Austin and Sydney, and multiple pets.
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.
Joining the team in 2020 as the Manager of Childhood Success – School Readiness, 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!
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.
Carolyn Koesters joined the team in 2016 as a Smart Beginnings Coordinator, but has since then transitioned into her role of Childhood Success Coordinator. Carolyn graduated from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio with a Major in English and hails originally from Louisville, Kentucky. She worked as a greeting card writer/editor for American Greetings in Cleveland, Ohio for seven years, and then became the Writing Manager of the Editorial Studios for five more years until 2011. In 2005, Carolyn was awarded the Chairman’s Award for Innovation for her leadership on re-imagining the editorial creative process, and trained at the executive level in Change Management, PR/Media/Public Speaking, and Corporate Leadership. With a unique blend of experience in critical and creative thinking, Carolyn has extensive expertise in collaboration and process improvement, creative thinking, problem solving, and team leadership.
In 2011, she relocated to Abingdon, Virginia with her husband (a Barter Theatre resident actor) and their daughter. In 2013, Carolyn began as the Director of Outreach for Barter Youth Academy and expanded the theatre education workshops to 4 additional satellite campuses, while supporting Barter’s education initiatives, including BYA and Project REAL. When she was promoted in 2014 to Barter’s Director of Education, Carolyn strengthened and coordinated all educational programming, and working in partnership with schools, colleges, and communities throughout the region, enhanced Barter Theatre’s educational experience for students of all ages. Most recently, she has been a Van Gogh Outreach Instructor for the William King Museum of Art, teaching curriculum through art to second graders in their classrooms throughout most of the counties of Southwest Virginia.
Cassandra Caffee Moorelock joined the team in 2016 as a Smart Beginnings Coordinator, but has since then transitioned into the role of Childhood Success Coordinator.
Cassandra earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee. She continued with her graduate studies there, earning a Masters of Arts in Holistic Education. After three years spent in public school systems in Northeast Tennessee as a substitute teacher, pre-K assistant, and special education assistant, she took a position teaching three and four year old students at the YWCA in Bristol, Tennessee. During this time, she directed her attention specifically to early childhood education. Through her experiences, she began to truly understand how critical the early years of development are for giving a child a strong educational foundation. In December 2012, Cassandra took a position at Emory and Henry College as a Program Leader for Busy Little Bees Child Development Center, where she taught two and three year old students. In addition to teaching while on campus, Cassandra enjoyed modeling her passion and expertise to college students interested in becoming teachers. Cassandra now resides in Tennessee with her husband, Jarrad.
Sherry joined the United Way team in 2019. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Social Science and her Master’s degree in Reading, both from Radford University. With 20 years of teaching experience in special education, elementary education, and Reading Remediation, Sherry is now a also full-time Reading Coach and Title I Teacher.
With a desire to improve teacher professional development, she earned her Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Adult and Postsecondary Education from Capella University. Since then, Sherry has been conducting training workshops for various organizations across Southwest Virginia.
Prior to becoming a part-time Childhood Success Coordinator, Sherry facilitated curriculum implementation and professional development for Virginia Quality as a Curriculum Specialist and Technical Assistant. She also serves as a Professional Development Specialist with the Council for Professional Development Recognition and as a CLASS Reliable Observer with PreK TTT.
Sherry has been married to her husband, Justin, for 20 years. They have two almost grown children, Christian and Victoria. She enjoys family mealtimes, family hikes, and music festivals.
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.
Lisa joined the United Way of Southwest Virginia team in 2017 as the Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist. Lisa is responsible for furthering United Way’s Community Impact work in the area of education by working to design, coordinate, deliver, and evaluate training and professional development within Southwest Virginia to increase the capacity of early care and education programs to deliver high quality services to infants and toddlers.
Lisa earned a Masters of Arts in Education at Emory & Henry College in 2012. In August 2016, she was hired as the primary teacher of a private school, Wolf Hill Heritage School, located in Abingdon, Virginia. Directly before taking that position, she had been employed by Emory & Henry College as program director and lead teacher to Emory’s Child Development Center, known as Busy Little Bees. Lisa brings 30 years of experience as a director and teacher in Virginia’s state licensed years.
Andrea Barrett joined the team in 2020 as an Infant & Toddler Specialist on our Childhood Success team. Andrea has a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies, and a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from East Tennessee State University. She has worked in early care and education since 2002 as a teacher in a university lab school, where she trained and mentored students using best practices. Andrea is an early interventionist, providing developmental therapy to children with delays and disabilities, a children’s ministry coordinator and a preschool director. Andrea is excited to use her education and experience to serve her community through the United Way of Southwest Virginia!
Cathy Crowgey 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.
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.
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.
Megan Atkinson Hamilton Joined the United Way of Southwest Virginia team in 2019. Prior to her role as Youth Success Coordinator, she founded and created Barter Theatre’s award-winning Project REAL. Using theater skills, Project REAL collaborates with local schools, non-profits, government services, and lock-down facilities to teach both academic and social skills through the lens of human experience. Since its founding in 2011, Project REAL has enriched the lives of students in Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The success of Project REAL led Megan to create a graduate program in Applied Theatre Pedagogy at ETSU. She became the Director of Education at Barter Theatre in 2016 where she supervised all of the theatre’s educational programming.
Barter’s Business Training Solutions was Megan’s latest creation. Employing the techniques she developed for Project REAL, Megan has worked with businesses and corporations to enhance the interpersonal skills needed to thrive in the 21st century workplace.
An original member of the Gates Foundation Super School Competition team, Megan helped design a school based on community participation and project-based learning (PBL). Megan continues to promote PBL by helping local teachers design classroom cultures that nurture soft skills and build authentic connections between student work and the wider community. As an adjunct professor at Emory & Henry College, Megan also teaches PBL in the freshman Transitions course.
Laken joined the United Way of Southwest Virginia Team in 2019. Born and raised in Southwest Virginia, Laken is honored to serve the region that she calls home. She is a graduate of Radford University, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Graphic Design and a minor in Marketing. Prior to her work with United Way of Southwest Virginia, Laken held an internship for a year and a half at Volvo Trucks, North America in the communications department.
Her role at United Way has allowed her to broaden her knowledge in email marketing, where she is responsible for creating, testing and sending emails to partners, donors, volunteers and friends of the organization. Laken considers herself a brand-connoisseur with a keen eye for detail. She loves having the ability to be the voice behind the scenes of the organization. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family.
Keri joined the team as the Marketing Coordinator in 2019. Originally from Bassett, Va, Keri is a graduate from Radford University’s class of 2019. She has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree with a major in Graphic Design and a double minor in Management and Entrepreneurship. Keri is a two-time student recipient of the American Advertising Federation’s ADDY awards for her visual designs. She previously worked as a Graphic Design intern with Volvo Trucks North America located in Dublin, Va. There she worked in the communications department and alongside a marketing team to bring ideas and projects to life.
Keri now resides in Bristol with her boyfriend, Cole, and their rescue dog, Shadow. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, drawing, and camping.
Kimberly Hamilton joined the team in 2019 as an Administrative Assistant to the President & CEO and Director of Accountability & Strategic Impact. She has extensive business experience in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts previously working in retail management, real estate development and marketing, and healthcare management and marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Professional Communication from Old Dominion University where she was a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society.
After serving as the Director of Marketing for a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, Kim entered a career sabbatical during which she chose to be at home with her daughters, Chloe and Sophie, during their formative years due to her husband Brian’s travel with his work for CSX Transportation. After this time, she returned to work serving as Administrative and Project Assistant for the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing’s Center of Excellence before coming on board at United Way of Southwest Virginia.